By Ronald Kabuye
High court Judge Lydia Mugambe Ssali has adjourned the hearing of the main application in which Uganda Journalists Association (UJA) and others challenge the directives of Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) directives suspending 39 journalists that’s the head of programming, producers and News managers from 13 media houses for purportedly falling short of the minimum broadcasting standards to 08th October this year.
The long adjournment followed a request byUCC to accord them ample time to study and file response to the consolidated new applications filed by Human Rights Network for Journalists (HRNJ), Centre for Constitution Governance and others to the original application filed by UJA and lawyers Ronald Bwire and Byansi Henry whose hearing was slated for today.
In the new applications the Attorney General and the Executive Director of UCC Godfrey Mutabaazi as person have been sued.
Michael Wandyebera, one the new petitioners said the reason why they added Attorney General is because the Uganda Media Council is not yet fully constituted and the UCC tribunal which is supposed to be set up by the president is also not in place.
On the Mutabaazi’s side, they allege that he takes personal decisions as opposed to acting on board decision.
The UJA secretary for human rights and media safety Mukose Arnold Anthony said though the adjournment is long but they are still optimistic that journalists and public will emerge the victor.
On the 22nd of May this year, Justice Lydia Mugambe issued an interim injunction stopping media houses from implementing the said of suspending 39 journalists until final determination of their case
Justice Mugambe noted that if the directive is not stopped it will impact the rights of journalists.
She further stated that although she has put into consideration UCC’s regulatory mandate, she says that the mandate should not be used to curtail the human rights and freedoms of the media.
UCC issued an order to six TV stations; NBS TV, BBS TV, NTV, Bukedde TV, Kingdom TV and Salt TV as well as seven radio stations; Akaboozi,, Beat FM, Capital FM, Pearl FM, Sapientia FM and Radio Simba to suspend the producer, head of news and head of programmes over their coverage of the arrest of Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine and the subsequent riots that broke out in parts of Kampala city on April 29.