27 September 2017

Uganda: UCC Bans Live Broadcasts of Age Limit Events

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has banned live broadcasts of events it says incite violence, are discriminatory, stir up hatred and promote a culture of violence.

In a one page statement sent to all broadcasters today morning, signed by the executive director Godfrey Mutabazi, UCC said it "has noted with concern that both radio and television broadcasting operators are relaying live broadcasts which are inciting the public, discriminating, stirring up hatred, promoting a culture of violence amongst the viewers and are likely to create a public insecurity or violence."

Adding: "... The Commission hereby directs all broadcasters to immediately stop and refrain from broadcasting live feeds which are in breach of the minimum broadcasting standards and the best practice guidelines for electronic media coverage/reporting and broadcasting of live events.

"The Commission shall not hesitate to carry out enforcement for non-compliance with these guidelines and any further breach will result in suspension and revocation of your license in accordance with Section 41 of the Uganda Communications Act 2013.", the statement concluded.

Although UCC was not explicit enough in its communication that it was the ongoing controversial age limit debate in parliament and country-wide protests that it was targeting, subsequent social media communication from the Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Frank Tumwebaze seems to indicate just as much.

"Violent scenes & fights offend minimum broadcasting standards.@UCC_Official [UCC] is obligated by law [to] enforce these standards & protect consumers", Tumwebaze wrote.

"Democracy entails tolerance & listening to one another..Those fighting to stop others from expressing themselves are the ones anti-democracy.

"They can shout, disagree, express but decorum matters...Fighting is not debating ....Space to speak and speak is too wide in Uganda..", Tumwebaze wrote further on his twitter account.

Yesterday, for the second time in less than six days, parliament was prematurely adjourned as the ruling party MPs attempted to smuggle onto the Order Paper a motion by Igara West MP, Raphael Magyezi seeking leave to table a bill on the lifting of presidential age limits.

The anticipated motion has caused uproar and country wide protests in various parts of the country especially among the youths who argue that the Constitution should not be changed for an individual, President Yoweri Museveni who will be ineligible to stand for presidency in 2021.

Museveni will be 77 years, two years above the constitutional age of 75.

Also, yesterday saw a brawl break out on the floor of parliament with MPs exchanging blows and throwing chairs at each other.

The events (protests) and debate in parliament have been extensively covered 'live' by most local media houses.

MPs opposed to lifting the age limit were involved in filibustering, singing the national anthem endlessly, forcing the speaker to adjourn the plenary to today, 2pm.

Parliament's spokesperson, also director of Communications Chris Obore later said that whatever had happened in the House should not be mistaken by the media or public as an abnormality as MPs are expected to debate charged on when such hot topics are tabled. Obore said it was up to the electorate to judge how their MPs had behaved in the House.

Today's filibustering by MPs opposed to lifting #agelimit is not an abnormality says Parliament's spokesperson Chris Obore 📹 @bamulanzeki pic.twitter.com/TdYR860nnB -- The Observer (@observerug) September 26, 2017

JOURNALISTS ARRESTED

In a related development, four journalists from Lira spent a night in prison after they were arrested for covering anti age limit amendment protests.

Issac Otwi (Daily Monitor), Robert Kalibongo (Unity FM), Denis Engena (NBS TV) & Martin Ongom (Dwon Luo, a local newspaper were picked up by police and reportedly beaten for covering the protests.

The youth in Lira have been very vocal against lifting of the presidential age limit from the Constitution. They have been staging protests ever since the country country got wind of the fact that Magyezi motion was to soon be tabled in parliament.

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