18 May 2017

Uganda: Hearing of Parliamentary Journalists' Case Flops

Kampala — The hearing of a case in which Uganda Parliamentary Press Association (UPPA) petitioned court challenging a move by the House to block reporters without degrees from covering parliamentary proceedings with effect from May 2016, was yesterday adjourned to October 20.

This after the trial judge Patricia Basaza received a letter from the Office of the clerk to the Parliament notifying court about the absence of the lawyers in personal conduct of the case.

"We respondents in the above matter and were required to appear in court for hearing of matter, however counsel in personal conduct of the matter are away on official duty in Arusha- Tanzania and Mogadishu-Somalia respectively and are scheduled to return on May 20.

This is to request you to adjourn the matter for a week where in the counsel shall be in position to proceed with the hearing," read part of the letter that was presented by Mr James Angura the senior legal officer at Parliamentary Commission.

Uganda Parliamentary Press Association (UPPA) petitioned to court challenging a move by parliament that was restricting reporters without degrees from covering proceedings of the House and its committees with effect from May this year.

In a loose minute of January 18, 2016, to Parliament's Sergeant-at -Arms, the director of communications and public affairs, Chris Obore directed that the journalists' office be closed until a good working relationship between the two warring parties is restored.

The journalists are demanding for an apology and clearance in writing from parliament and all its officials that they will not repeat the violation of their right.

They also argue that since parliament is not their employer, then it has no powers to direct media houses on the reporters' specifications to cover its proceedings.

In the same court, Justice Yasin Nyanzi dismissed a preliminary objection by the Parliamentary Commission that sought to throw out the case filed against it by Parliamentary Journalists, challenging their accreditation to start covering the house as degree holders.

Court ruled that the journalists had a case against the Parliamentary Commission that needs to be heard on merit.


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