KAMPALA – The Uganda Law Society (ULS) has said the Uganda Communications Communication (UCC) has no authority to order media houses to suspend journalists.
Last week, UCC directed 13 media houses, including NBS TV, to suspend 36 journalists, including senior editors, for allegedly breaching the minimum broadcasting standards.
But in a letter issued on Monday, ULS president Simon Peter Kinobe said disciplinary action against journalists is the mandate of the Media Council and not UCC.
“UCC does not have any legal mandate to order suspension of any media staff. Disciplinary action against journalists is the mandate of the Media Council, whose functions are clearly articulated in section 10(1) of the Press and Journalist Act, Cap 105,” Mr. Kinobe’s letter reads in part.
He also accused UCC of being the complainant, investigator, judge and executioner of the alleged breach of minimum broadcasting standards.
“The alleged ‘directive’ is illegal, null and void for violation of due process and fair hearing principles enshrined in articles 28, 42 and 44 (c) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 (as amended). The UCC cannot be the complainant, investigator, judge and executioner of the alleged breach of minimum broadcasting standards,” Mr Kinobe wrote.
“The purported directive by the UCC is prejudicial, an affront to the media freedom and intended to muzzle journalistic expression and access to information such as live coverage of political events contrary to Article 29 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda,” he adds.
ULS calls upon the UCC Executive Director,to rescind the directive.
UCC wants the suspensions effected at six TV stations; NBS TV, BBS TV, NTV, Bukedde TV, Kingdom TV and Salt TV. The same suspensions have also been demanded at seven radio stations; Akaboozi,, Beat FM, Capital FM, Pearl FM, Sapientia FM and Radio Simba. So far NBS TV’s Joyce Bagala, a news anchor, and Charles Ssenkubuge aka Siasa, of Salt TV, have already been fired in line with UCC’s directives.