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1Report for the Period June-November 2007
Freedom of Expression
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION:
IN DEFENCE OF MEDIA
FREEDOM IN UGAN...
Freedom of Expression
2 Report for the Period June-November 2007
ACHPR African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights
BC Bro...
3Report for the Period June-November 2007
Freedom of Expression
The Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) is an in...
Freedom of Expression
4 Report for the Period June-November 2007
The Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) is deep...
5Report for the Period June-November 2007
Freedom of Expression
Introduction 6
Executive Summary 7
CHAPTER ONE: 9
The Medi...
Freedom of Expression
6 Report for the Period June-November 2007
INTRODUCTION
1.1 Research Objective
T
he objective of thi...
7Report for the Period June-November 2007
Freedom of Expression
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
F
reedom of expression is crucial for th...
Freedom of Expression
8 Report for the Period June-November 2007
The New Vision Newsroom. (Photo by Wilfred Sanya)
9Report for the Period June-November 2007
Freedom of Expression
CHAPTER ONE:
The Media in Uganda: A historical perspective...
Freedom of Expression
10 Report for the Period June-November 2007
Ordinance No. 9 of 1910 and the Press Censorship Ordinan...
11Report for the Period June-November 2007
Freedom of Expression
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Based on their ...
Freedom of Expression
12 Report for the Period June-November 2007
1980s, publication of such papers as Mulengera, Weekly T...
13Report for the Period June-November 2007
Freedom of Expression
1.3 Post 1986 Era: Liberalization, Rapid Growth, and Cont...
Freedom of Expression
14 Report for the Period June-November 2007
In 2005, the NRM government established the Media Centre...
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Freedom of Expression
services. The government has since initiated programs to ...
Freedom of Expression
16 Report for the Period June-November 2007
9
BBC Monitoring Research, February 27, 2007
10
Gariyo, ...
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Freedom of Expression
35
Cap 105 Laws of Uganda
36
Cap 104 Laws of Uganda
37
Ca...
Freedom of Expression
18 Report for the Period June-November 2007
James Tumusiime, Ibrahim Ssemujju of The Weekly Observer...
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Freedom of Expression
CHAPTER TWO
The Legislative and Regulatory Framework: Und...
Freedom of Expression
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Like all other rights that are not absolute, the right t...
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Freedom of Expression
bankrupt or insolvent,” must be “ordinarily resident in U...
Freedom of Expression
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out of the hundreds of practicing journalists there are ...
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Freedom of Expression
An institution that does not exercise its powers granted ...
Freedom of Expression
24 Report for the Period June-November 2007
2.3.2.1 The Broadcasting Council
The Electronic Media Ac...
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Freedom of Expression
possessed, installed, connected, or operated.”34
The Elec...
Freedom of Expression
26 Report for the Period June-November 2007
The provisions in the Electronic Media Act and the manne...
27Report for the Period June-November 2007
Freedom of Expression
have the exclusive duty to (a) plan, monitor, manage and ...
Freedom of Expression
28 Report for the Period June-November 2007
2.3.4 The Media centre
The Media centre was created by t...
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Freedom of Expression
The Secretary of the Media Council, emphasized that the C...
Freedom of Expression
30 Report for the Period June-November 2007
2.3.5 Other Laws Impacting on Media Freedom in Uganda
In...
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Freedom of Expression
Sections 49, 51, and 52 respectively make it a crime, to ...
Freedom of Expression
32 Report for the Period June-November 2007
2.3.5.2 Anti-Terrorism Act, 2002
The global fight agains...
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Freedom of Expression
2.3.5.3 The Presidential Elections Act 2005 and the Parli...
Freedom of Expression
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candidates over the other three.89
Private radio deliver...
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Freedom of Expression
The laws do not enhance media freedom but are often used ...
Freedom of Expression
36 Report for the Period June-November 2007
Regarding the Media Council, strong views were expressed...
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Freedom of Expression
Conclusion:
Meaningful participation of the governed in t...
Freedom of Expression
38 Report for the Period June-November 2007
14
FHRI Interview with Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, Politica...
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Freedom of Expression
63
Joe Oloka-Onyango, “The Limits of Free Expression unde...
Freedom of Expression
40 Report for the Period June-November 2007
Journalists demonstrate against the police. (Photo by Wa...
41Report for the Period June-November 2007
Freedom of Expression
CHAPTER THREE:
Independence of the Media in Uganda
3.0 In...
Freedom of media paper in uganda
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Freedom of media paper in uganda
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Freedom of media paper in uganda

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Conditions for media freedom deteriorated sharply in 2014 to their lowest point in 10 years, as journalists around the world faced mounting restrictions, here is how the situation is in Uganda.

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Freedom of media paper in uganda

  1. 1. 1Report for the Period June-November 2007 Freedom of Expression FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: IN DEFENCE OF MEDIA FREEDOM IN UGANDA (Report for the Period 1st June- 30th November 2007)
  2. 2. Freedom of Expression 2 Report for the Period June-November 2007 ACHPR African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights BC Broadcasting Council CAT Convention Against Torture CID Criminal Investigations Department CMI Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence CSP Community Service Program EC Electoral Commission FHRI Foundation for Human Rights Initiative FIDH Federation of International Human Rights Defenders HURIPEC Human Rights and Peace Centre ICC International Criminal Court ICCPR International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights IDP Internally Displaced Person ISO Internal Security Organisation JATT Joint Anti Terrorism Task Force JLOS Justice Law and Order Sector LDU Local Defence Unit LRA Lord’s Resistance Army NIJU National Institute of Journalists of Uganda NRM National Resistance Movement NRM-O National Resistance Movement Organisation PAS Paralegal Advisory Service PRA People’s Redemption Army SPC Special Police Constable UBS Uganda Broadcasting Service UBC Uganda Broadcasting Corporation UCC Uganda Communications Commission UDHR Universal Declaration of Human Rights UHRC Uganda Human Rights Commission UJC Uganda Journalist’s Safety Committee UN CAT United Nations Committee Against Torture UN HRC United Nations Human Rights Committee UPDF Uganda People’s Defence Forces UPF Uganda Police Force UPS Uganda Prisons Service VCCU Violent Crime Crack Unit ACRONYMS
  3. 3. 3Report for the Period June-November 2007 Freedom of Expression The Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) is an independent, non-governmental, non-partisan and not-for profit human rights advocacy organisation whose mission is to enhance the knowledge, respect and observance of human rights, promote exchange of information and best practices through training, education, research, advocacy and strategic partnerships. The Rights Monitoring and Policy Advocacy Project documents human rights practices in order to promote dialogue and respect for human rights and democratic development in Uganda. Project Team: Ms. Caroline Adoch Mr. Vincent Babalanda Mr. Nicholas Opiyo Contributors: Ms. Aisulu Masylkanova Ms. Brandis Anderson Ms. Julia Fox Ms. Tonya Rawe Mr. Adrian Jjuko Editor: Mr. Livingstone Sewanyana PREFACE
  4. 4. Freedom of Expression 4 Report for the Period June-November 2007 The Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) is deeply indebted to all individuals, groups and government departments that contributed to the research, analysis and production of this report who include among others journalists, editors, academia, civil servants, civil society organizations and individuals who took the time to share with us their opinions. We would like to thank our donor partners DANIDA, HIVOS, NED and SIDA for the financial support to this project and for making the publication of this report possible. However, our partners are in no way responsible for the accuracy and content of this report. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
  5. 5. 5Report for the Period June-November 2007 Freedom of Expression Introduction 6 Executive Summary 7 CHAPTER ONE: 9 The Media in Uganda: A historical perspective. Chapter two: 19 The legislative and regulatory framework: Understanding its impact on media freedom in Uganda. Chapter three: 41 Independence of the media in Uganda Chapter four: 53 The access to information act 2005; a promise delivered? Section two: 61 Brief overview of the human rights situation in Uganda (1st June – 30th November 2007). TABLE OF CONTENTS
  6. 6. Freedom of Expression 6 Report for the Period June-November 2007 INTRODUCTION 1.1 Research Objective T he objective of this research report is to investigate, gather and analyze information on freedom of expression in the period of June- November 2007 and using available data work towards better policies that advance fulfillment of human rights obligations in Uganda. The report explores the right to freedom of expression noting challenges to its full enjoyment and makes recommendations for improvements. 1.2 Primary research methodology The method used in this study was qualitative/key informant interviews. The researchers held several interviews with journalists, editors, government officials and regulatory authorities, scholars, and civil society organizations. The interviewees were randomly selected based on their knowledge of the media in Uganda. The researchers also used secondary data content analysis. Using this method international human rights instruments were analyzed, writings of leading scholars, publicists and newspaper reports of relevant events were reviewed. Information obtained from partner organisations was also analyzed. In this respect, the researchers were not responsible for the collection of original data but only analyzed conclusions and findings of the authors. Several interviews were conducted as a follow up to this content analysis. Content analysis helped the researchers to identify, enumerate and analyze occurrences and developments in the media industry and the human rights climate in Uganda. 1.3 Conceptual framework of the right to freedom of expression The right to freedom of expression is an important right in the functioning of a democratic society. Freedom of expression entails the right to hold opinions without interference and the right to impart, seek, and receive information and ideas, regardless of form, content, or source. It is an essential means by which citizens can influence their government and leaders. Several international and regional human rights instruments guarantee freedom of expression. For instance, Article 19 (2) of the ICCPR and Article 9 of ACHPR recognize the right to freedom of expression. In order for individuals to fully realize their right to freedom of expression, individuals and media outlets must be able to function freely without unreasonable governmental interference- even in the case of government owned media outlets.
  7. 7. 7Report for the Period June-November 2007 Freedom of Expression EXECUTIVE SUMMARY F reedom of expression is crucial for the development of a full democracy particularly; in Uganda’s newly revived multi-party system the media can play a critical role in promoting discussion and debate and ensuring political accountability. Under the NRM government, the media has gained considerable freedom and the number of media outlets has exploded. Statutory and regulatory measures, however, continue to limit freedom of the media, and the freedom of the press has declined considerably during the last two years. Journalists and broadcasters continue to be subject to negative government reactions and interference. Public statements, judicial sanctions and arbitrary police actions have been employed to intimidate media practitioners critical of the current regime. These restrictive measures have created a level of self-censorship, which undermines the role of the media in providing a forum for public debate, public information, analysis, and discussion. In addition, the prevailing economic pressure on the media industry compromises independence of the media. Journalists are poorly paid and often depend on government or civil society support to reach news centres. Government agencies, such as the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) and the Broadcasting Council (BC), have been set up by the government to regulate the media. The authority given to these regulatory bodies has been abused often disrupting the work of the media groups. Some agencies do not have clear mandates and have overlapping duties, particularly the UCC and the Broadcasting Council. The multiple licenses, registration, and certification requirements and fees have created undue burden on the media industry. Although a governmental agency, the Media Centre functions more as a media outlet for the ruling NRM. Restrictive legislation governing the operation of the media and provisions criminalizing particular acts by the media severely restrict journalists’ and broadcasters’ freedom and right to seek, receive, and impart information and the public’s right to access such information. This in turn harms individuals’ ability to fully exercise their rights and responsibilities in a multi-party democracy. The government should therefore streamline the mandate for its myriad media regulatory bodies. Laws governing the operation of the media and those that unfairly criminalize certain acts by the media must be repealed to improve the operating environment. The Access to Information Act (ATIA) 2005 represents a positive step in the promotion of transparency and accountability in governmental institutions. The government, however, must fully implement ATIA, ensure that information is provided quickly and both the public and government agencies should act in tandem to promote freedom of expression.
  8. 8. Freedom of Expression 8 Report for the Period June-November 2007 The New Vision Newsroom. (Photo by Wilfred Sanya)
  9. 9. 9Report for the Period June-November 2007 Freedom of Expression CHAPTER ONE: The Media in Uganda: A historical perspective The Media in Uganda has been transformed with the ever changing political and economic landscape of the nation, and since the liberalization of the media in the early 1990s, the number of print and broadcast media outlets has rapidly increased. However, prior to media liberalization, Uganda experienced limited access to independent, privately-owned media outlets. Today, while freedom of expression is enshrined in the 1995 Constitution, it is still subject to statutory and regulatory restrictions as well as regular government sanctioned attacks and interference. In 2006, Reporters without Borders ranked Uganda 116 out of 168 in its Annual Press Freedom Index. The 2006 ranking represents a sharp drop from the previous year when Uganda was ranked 80th.1 Similarly, Freedom House, in its 2007 Annual report on Press freedom ranked Uganda 116th out of 169 countries, a drop from 111th in 2006. While once heralded as one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s freest countries for the press, Uganda has dropped in the ranks over the past couple of years following the enactment of the anti-terrorism legislation and the tightening of controls on the media, especially in the run up to the 2006 General elections.2 1.1 1900-1962: Early Media Development and the Advent of Government Domination 1.1.1 The Print Media The first media outlets in Uganda were primarily missionary-based monthly newsletters. The first to appear was the English Mengo Notes, published by the Church Missionary Society (CMS). First published in 1900, the newsletter was renamed Uganda Notes in 1902. CMS also published the Luganda monthly religious newsletter Ebifa mu Buganda beginning in 1907, and in 1934 renamed the publication Ebifa mu Uganda. This Publication was redesigned into a bi-monthly journal in 1956, and again in the late 1950s into an English-language church newspaper under the title New Day. Similarly, in 1911, the Roman Catholic Munno was published as a monthly religious newsletter. While primarily a religious publication, in the mid-1950s, Munno began to take interest in and comment on current political developments.3 Munno remained in circulation until 1976 when Idi Amin banned its publication.4 During the early 1900’s, several other newspapers were published, including the Buganda monarchy-owned Agafa e Mengo, the Uganda Herald (first published in 1912 and aimed at European residents), and Matalisi (first published in 1923).5 Newspapers, however, were subject to restrictions imposed by the colonial authorities, including the Newspapers Surety
  10. 10. Freedom of Expression 10 Report for the Period June-November 2007 Ordinance No. 9 of 1910 and the Press Censorship Ordinance No. 4 of 1915 which penalized publication of information regarding British military activity.6 Despite these restrictions, the Uganda Herald quickly became the most widely read and influential newspaper in Uganda, particularly among the European community, as it was the only English language newspaper to address general events in Uganda rather than focus on religious matters as Mengo Notes did.7 Matalisi in the 1920s and the 1930s catered for the growing African intelligentsia and middle class and focused on their growing awareness and opposition to colonial rule and policies.8 The 1930s marked the advent of additional local language print sources, particularly as the population increasingly expressed grievances against colonial authorities.9 During the Second World War (1939-1945), independent newspapers unwilling to publish the official line were censored. Following the 1949 Agrarian Agitation, The Press and Censorship Publications Act was passed, limiting and in effect banning, publication of several prominent, independent newspapers.10 The 1950s registerd another increase in the number of publications, including Uganda Eyogera, Ndimugezi, and Uganda Post, among others. Several of these continued to fill the role of colonial critic. However, a great number of these newspapers were published for only a few years.11 During the 1950s, the colonial government increasingly dominated ownership of the press, publishing as many as twelve newspapers in local languages. Similarly, by 1955, the English- language Uganda Argus, published by the foreign-owned Standard Group in Kenya, was the largest newspaper in Uganda. Taken over in 1972 by the Amin government and renamed Voice of Uganda, Uganda Argus would be the precursor to later government-owned print publications.12 During the 1950s, however, colonial authorities were still prone to exercising tight regulation of newspapers, and publication of the Uganda Post, Uganda Eyogera, and Uganda Express was briefly suspended in 1955.13 Newspapers also faced difficulty in securing trained staff and adequate advertising revenue and at times closed as a result, as in the case of Uganda Mail, Uganda Times, and Uganda Express.14 Prior to Uganda’s independence in 1962, the media was subject to sedition and libel provisions of the Penal Code of 1950.15 Those media practitioners found to have committed an offense by printing, publishing, importing, selling, or distributing seditious material were subject to a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or a fine of up to fifty thousand shillings, and on a subsequent conviction to imprisonment for up to seven years. Those journalists found to have published information prejudicial to national security were subject to imprisonment of up to seven years. The government also had the power to prohibit the importation of publications if such a prohibition was deemed to be in the ‘public interest’- a phrase so ill-conceived and inimical to human rights guarantees. 1.1.2 Electronic Media In the 1950s, the colonial government also pioneered the domain of radio broadcasting with the formation of the Uganda Broadcasting Service (UBS) in 1954 under the auspices of the
  11. 11. 11Report for the Period June-November 2007 Freedom of Expression Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Based on their prior experience with broadcasting in West Africa, British colonial authorities in Uganda wanted the new radio service to fulfill three purposes: propaganda and news, education, and entertainment. UBS broadcast programs in English as well as several local languages; however an early report reviewing UBS criticized the lack of emphasis in the programming on the culture and lifestyles of the rural Ugandan population, a factor that revealed UBS’ greater benefit to the British, Asian and growing (but still small) elite Ugandan population. Similarly, the report criticized UBS’ singular viewpoint regarding political affairs and news.16 As Uganda approached independence, its media landscape had over the previous five decades been a preserve of religious and government publications. However, with the pro- independence movement gaining momentum, the African-owned and vernacular newspapers slowly entered the market and begun to exercise the traditional – and vital – media role of fostering public debate and expressing public opinion on current events. The media, (public and private) however, still operated under government restrictions which would continue even after gaining independence in 1962. 1.2 1962-1986: The Post-Independence Years – Broadcast Dominance and GovernmentMonopoly 1.2.1 The Print Media The growth of the print media continued during the 1960s, but newspapers were frequently short-lived as publications lasted only a few years.17 In addition, post-colonial governments tolerated only those independent newspapers that avoided coverage and criticism of the government, and those publications that chose to voice opposition often found themselves banned or their editors jailed.18 Soon after taking power in 1971, Idi Amin issued the Newspaper and Publication (Amendment) Decree in 1972. The decree stipulated that “the Minister may, if he is satisfied that it is in the ‘public interest’ to do so by statutory order, prohibit the publication of any newspaper for a specified or indefinite period.”19 Under that decree, Idi Amin banned publication of select privately-owned newspapers and further banned foreign newspapers, claiming they belonged to “confusing agents” – in essence those who did not agree with Amin’s beliefs.20 While the Amin government published the Voice of Uganda as the official, state-run newspaper,21 the government largely relied on the airwaves as a means of mass communication.22 By the late 1970s, the growth of print media experienced during the 1950s and 1960s was largely reversed.23 The second UPC regime of the 1980s continued to jail journalists and clamp down on news papers that published stories critical of the government.24 Throughout the first half of the
  12. 12. Freedom of Expression 12 Report for the Period June-November 2007 1980s, publication of such papers as Mulengera, Weekly Topic, The Champion, and Weekend Digest, among others, was banned.25 Some private newspapers did succeed in continuing publication despite government harassment and bans.26 A recent report by the Uganda Media Development Foundation (UMDF) cites Munnansi (Citizen)’s role in the early 1980s as a watchdog on government excesses and abuse. The UMDF report argues, however, that in allowing the newspaper to publish and operate as a champion of the DP opposition, the ruling UPC government was able to gain legitimacy as a parliamentary democracy with a viable opposition.27 1.2.2 Electronic Media Radio and Television, rather than the print media, served as the primary means by which successive governments disseminated policy and information.28 The suppression of print journalism and the state’s reliance on broadcast media helped it to perpetuate state control of information and expression through TV and radio. The post-independence broadcast media in Uganda was dominated by the state-owned Radio Uganda (formerly the colonial authority-owned UBS) and the Uganda Television Service (UTV) founded in 1963. In 1962, Radio Uganda with a second broadcast channel, increased programming to include thirteen languages and over 100 hours of weekly broadcast, and was eventually split into four regional programs. In recognition of the outreach and power of radio, especially as it relates to social and economic development, the government invested considerably in improvements to the broadcast sector.29 Initially set up as a tool of national development, the bulk of Uganda Television programming centered on news and education. According to a 1976 UNESCO report, “The government of the Second Republic of Uganda was quick in recognizing the very important role television can play in the development of the country” and like the previous government had with radio, directed investment towards improving television services.30 The outreach of television however still depended on the prevalence of electricity and ownership of television sets.31 As the national, state-owned television station, Uganda Television continued to exercise monopoly over the airwaves and, rather than serving as a public service broadcaster, UTV was merely seen as a propaganda tool for the government. In response, sections of the Ugandan public voiced criticism of Uganda Television.32 In the first twenty-five years of independence, mass media in Uganda largely echoed government interests and failed to provide the complete spectrum of information necessary to generate public debate and encourage government accountability.33 Despite the existence of such media outlets as Munnansi, the media in Uganda after independence was largely characterized by a dominant, official press, tight state control of broadcasting, and a scarcity of media outlets capable of challenging the official state position.
  13. 13. 13Report for the Period June-November 2007 Freedom of Expression 1.3 Post 1986 Era: Liberalization, Rapid Growth, and Continued Restrictions In contrast with the early post independence period, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government under President Yoweri Museveni has overseen the end of state monopoly of the media as well as its increased liberalization, including the registration of a large number of radio stations and TV channels and an increase in the publication of newspapers. The NRM government is also on record for introducing a diverse media regulatory framework to check such liberalized media industry. 1.3.1 Legislative and Regulatory Measures Article 29(1) of the 1995 Constitution, consistent with article 19 of the ICCPR provides for freedom of expression thereby affording the media sector the requisite constitutional and human rights guarantees.34 As the media sector began to grow, the NRM government began to regulate the industry through statutorily created agencies. The Press and Journalist Act of 199535 established the Media Council as well as the National Institute of Journalists of Uganda (NIJU). Though not officially launched until 2003, as the primary regulatory body, the Media Council is tasked with regulating the conduct and standards of journalists and overseeing their registration. The Media Council is also empowered to moderate disputes between the government or public and the media and to censor material destined for public consumption. Similarly, the National Institute of Journalists of Uganda, launched in 1997, is designed to establish and maintain professional standards for journalists. Among these standards, however, is the requirement that members of the Institute hold a university degree, a requirement that has been met with some criticism within the media fraternity. The Electronic Media Act36 , passed in 1996, created the Broadcasting Council as the body in charge of issuing broadcast licenses and to serve as a liaison with the Ministry of Information. The Electronic Media Act also tasks the Broadcasting Council with standardizing, planning, managing, and allocating the frequency spectrum dedicated to any broadcasting station. In 1997, Parliament passed the Uganda Communications Act37 , establishing the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC). By statute, the UCC regulates the national communications sector, setting and ensuring compliance with national communication standards, encouraging research, private investment and competition, and promoting consumer interests with regard to quality and equitable distribution of services. Much like the Broadcasting Council, however, the UCC is also responsible for licensing and regulating communication services and allocating radio frequency spectrum. In this regard, broadcast media owners have voiced frustration with and criticism of the seeming overlap in the roles of the UCC and the Broadcasting Council.
  14. 14. Freedom of Expression 14 Report for the Period June-November 2007 In 2005, the NRM government established the Media Centre; however the Centre’s functions are not clearly defined. According to media practitioners, the Media Centre has thus far operated as a political prop, in competition with the Media Council, particularly in the accreditation of foreign journalists. In addition, the Media Centre has acted largely as the information outlet for the National Resistance Movement rather than an independent government agency.38 In 2006, the 3rd term Museveni-led government also established the new Ministry of Information and National Guidance. Previously in 2005, Radio Uganda and Uganda Television; the two national/state-owned media outlets had been merged into the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC). The New Vision emerged in 1986 as the official, state-owned newspaper, which surprisingly and in contrast with its predecessors, has at times been openly critical of the government.39 1.3.2 Rapid Growth of the Media Sector With liberalization and adoption of the free market policy the number of media outlets; print, broadcast, and new media – exploded. In the early 1990s, Uganda had one radio station and one TV station: Radio Uganda and Uganda Television, both state-owned/ operated. By April 2007, the number of privately-owned radio and television stations had increased to 145 radio stations and 12 TV stations, in addition to pay-to-view satellite television channels. In fact, the rapid increase in the number of privately registered radio stations prompted a government suspension of registration of new stations until the airwaves could be better organized. Radio and TV (broadcast media) have both benefited from international broadcasts and faith-based programming. In addition, radio hosts a number of vernacular broadcasts.40 The print media in Uganda, which had suffered under previous regimes was revived and flourished under the new, liberal media policy, topping seventy new registered publications by the late 1990s.41 The establishment of The Daily Monitor, an independent daily in 1992 signaled the introduction of the primary counterweight to the government-owned The New Vision, and together the two newspapers represent the two most widely read newspapers in Uganda. The New Vision Printing Corporation also publishes four vernacular language newspapers, one of which, Bukedde, is a daily while the other three; Etop, Orumuri and Rupiny are weeklies. In 2004, the corporation introduced a tabloid, The Sun. The Daily Monitor, on the other hand, introduced one of the first newspaper websites in Africa.42 1.3.3 Telecommunication The telecommunications industry has enjoyed significant growth since the introduction of internet services in Uganda in the early 1990s and the proliferation of mobile phone technology
  15. 15. 15Report for the Period June-November 2007 Freedom of Expression services. The government has since initiated programs to begin to narrow the digital divide between more urban and rural areas, where 80% of the nation’s population lives. The government also introduced the Rural Communication Development Fund in 2003 to provide subsidies to telecommunication firms investing in rural parts of Uganda. In addition, the telecommunications industry has also benefited from international investments, including a pledge of USD 120 million from the Chinese government to develop a national broadband infrastructure.43 Today, the radio remains the most popular source of news and information with over 64% listenership. In contrast, 3% of Ugandans rely on television while only 1% depends on newspapers.44 Much of this reliance on radio is attributed to high poverty levels and limited access to news sources: in 2005, according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, approximately 48 per cent of Ugandans had access to radio while only 6 percent had access to television.45 As the media sector grows and begins to assert its rights as guaranteed in the 1995 Constitution, media practitioners have established a number of professional associations designed to both protect their rights and to provide professional development. Such organizations include the Uganda Journalists Association, the National Association of Broadcasters, and the Uganda Journalists’ Union.46 Conclusion While the freedom the media experiences under the Museveni-led government is unprecedented, the government has also introduced unprecedented statutory and regulatory measures to control the operations of the media industry. 1 Reporters without Borders, Worldwide Press Freedom Index, 2006. 2 Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2007, released May 1, 2007. 3 Zie Gariyo, “The Press and Democratic Struggles in Uganda: 1900-1962,” in Uganda, eds. Mahmood Mamdani, Joe Oloka-Onyango, pp. 409-410. 4 John Isoba, “The Rise and Fall of Uganda’s Newspaper Industry,” in Journalism Quarterly, Vol. 57, no. 2, 1980, pp. 225. 5 Mark Kirumira and Jan Ajwang, “Uganda: The Limping Newspaper Industry,” The Daily Monitor, May 3, 2007; and Gariyo, pp. 411 6 John-Jean Barya, Samson James Opolot, Peter Omurangi Otim, The Limits of ‘No Party’ Politics: The Role of International Assistance in Uganda’s Democratisation Process, Working Paper 28, August 2004, pp. 63. 7 Isoba, pp. 225. 8 Gariyo, pp. 415. End Notes
  16. 16. Freedom of Expression 16 Report for the Period June-November 2007 9 BBC Monitoring Research, February 27, 2007 10 Gariyo, pp. 421-431; The Uganda Herald and Matalisi (despite its support of the growing African bourgeoisie and its opposition to colonial rule) were both more willing to publish views along official lines. Colonial authorities specifically targeted The Uganda Star, Mugobansonga, and Munyonyozi for censorship because of their support of the Uganda African Farmers Union. Likewise, colonial authorities frequently targeted the editors of Dobozi Lya Buganda and Gambuze with harassment and imprisonment on charges of sedition. 11 Gariyo, pp. 433-440; and Isoba, pp. 227-231. 12 Isoba., pp. 226, 232. 13 Daniel Nelson, “Newspapers in Uganda,” in Transition, no. 35, Feb-March 1968, pp. 29. 14 Kirumira and Ajwang, “The Limping Newspaper Industry,” The Daily Monitor, May 3, 2007, and Nelson, “Newspapers in Uganda,” in Transition, no. 35, Feb-March 1968, pp. 29. 15 Cap 120 Laws of Uganda 16 Jacob Matovu, “Mass Media as Agencies of Socialization in Uganda,” Journal of Black Studies, Vol 20, No. 3, March 1990, pp. 347-350. 17 Isoba, pp. 227-31. 18 Uganda Media Development Foundation, The State of Media Freedom in Uganda, 2006, pp. 2-3. 19 Quoted in Barya, et al., pp. 64. 20 BBC Report; Isoba, pp. 232; and Matovu, pp. 346. 21 Isoba, pp. 232. 22 Mark Kirumira and Jan Ajwang, “Uganda: The Limping Newspaper Industry,” The Daily Monitor, 3/05/ 07 23 Isoba, pp. 225, 233. 24 Barya, et al., pp. 64. 25 The Newspaper and Publications (Prohibition) Order, 1981, No. 4 (March 11, 1981), No. 5 (March 25, 1981), No. 48 (September 18, 1981); and the Newspaper and Publications (Prohibition) Order, No.20/ 1986 26 Citizen was itself banned under the Newspaper and Publications (Prohibition) Order, 1981, No. 4. 27 UMDF report, pp. 3. 28 Kirumira andAjwang, “Uganda: The Limping Newspaper Industry,” The Daily Monitor, May 3, 2007. 29 Matovu, pp. 350-352. 30 Quoted in Matovu, pp. 354. 31 Matovu, pp. 353-354. 32 BBC Report. 33 UMDF Report, pp. 2-3 34 Uganda ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1995. Article 29(1) states that “Every person has the right to: freedom of speech and expression, which shall include freedom of the press and other media; freedom of thought, conscience, and belief….” Likewise,Article 41(1) indicates that “Every citizen has a right of access to information in the possession of the State or any other organ or agency of the State except where the release of the information is likely to prejudice security or sovereignty of the State or interfere with the right to privacy of any other person.”
  17. 17. 17Report for the Period June-November 2007 Freedom of Expression 35 Cap 105 Laws of Uganda 36 Cap 104 Laws of Uganda 37 Cap 106 Laws of Uganda 38 BBC Report. 39 ibid 40 BBC Report. 41 Amos Kajoba, “The State of the Media in Uganda,” in Fighting Corruption in Uganda, eds. A. Ruzindana, P Langseth, andA. Gakwandi, 1998, pp. 138, referenced in Uganda Media Development Foundation, The State of Media Freedom in Uganda, pp. 3. 42 BBC Report. 43 ibid. 44 Osservatorio di Pavia, Report on the Uganda 2006 Elections Media Coverage, 2006, pp. 2. 45 BBC Report. 46 ibid
  18. 18. Freedom of Expression 18 Report for the Period June-November 2007 James Tumusiime, Ibrahim Ssemujju of The Weekly Observer are charged in Court. (photo by Godfrey Kimono)
  19. 19. 19Report for the Period June-November 2007 Freedom of Expression CHAPTER TWO The Legislative and Regulatory Framework: Understanding its Impact on Media Freedoms in Uganda 2.0 Introduction T he importance of media as a forum for enhancing public participation in their governance and sharing information can not be over emphasized especially in a democratic dispensation. As Justice Mulenga famously remarked; “A democratic society respects and promotes the citizens’ individual right to freedom of expression, because it derives benefit from the exercise of that freedom by its citizens.”1 Freedom of expression includes a number of rights, including the right to hold opinions without interference, the right to impart, seek, and receive information and ideas, regardless of the form, content, or source. This applies to individual citizens as well as the media. The protection of these freedoms must include measures to prevent control of the media in ways that would interfere with individuals’ right to freedom of expression. While this right is not absolute, limitations to it must be those that are either in public interest or demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society. Freedom of the media promotes participation in governance and the general right to freedom of expression, all essential tenets of a democratic society, its regulation ought to be very carefully exercised so as not to defeat the core principle of the right. In Uganda since 1995, the legislative and regulatory framework governing and impacting media operations has grown significantly. While media freedoms are enshrined in the 1995 Uganda constitution and protected under international treaty, a number of regulatory and legislative measures place undue restrictions on the media’s ability to freely operate. These measures not only directly impair freedom of expression; they have also served to encourage self-censorship among the media. 2.1 Constitutional Guarantees The freedom of expression including the freedom of the media is guaranteed under the national constitution of Uganda 1995.2 Several articles that relate to the exercise of these rights are also provided for in the constitution. For instance the right to Access to Information, which is essential for media operation, is enshrined in the bill of rights3 and parliament has passed an Access to Information Act 2005 for the operationlisation of the said article.
  20. 20. Freedom of Expression 20 Report for the Period June-November 2007 Like all other rights that are not absolute, the right to freedom of the media is subject to the draw back clause in the constitution, which provides for regulation in the public interest and which are acceptable and demonstrably justifiable in a free democratic society, or what is provided in this Constitution.4 It important to note that public interest has been defined in the negative, that is, not to permit political persecution and detention without trial. Public interest cannot and should not be reduced in practice to mean the whims of a particular individual or groups of individuals. 2.2 International Guarantees The guarantee under the municipal law is more or less a reflection of the provisions of several international legal instruments to which Uganda is a state party or signatory. Needless to mention that the instruments include among others the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)5 and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.6 2.3 Exercise of Media Freedom in Uganda The measure of the exercise of the right to freedom of the media can not be done in terms of the posited laws only but in the wider context of the practical realities that obtains alongside the usually considerable good legislative provisions. It is also important that it is examined in light of the other existing laws, both regulatory and administrative, that have a direct or indirect bearing on the right. This section takes a look at the laws and their practice to examine whether the promised legislative freedom is actually being delivered in daily lives in terms of registration, licensing and qualifications. Legislative controls are necessary but only in as far as they enhance and not unduly limit the exercise of the freedom of the media. Legislative controls that in practice and exercise narrows the space for the exercise of any right is bad law. 2.3.1 The Press and Journalist Act 1995 2.3.1.1 Certification of Journalists Designed to professionalize the media, the Press and Journalist Act 1995 institutes minimum standards for editors and journalists and empowers the government to oversee the licensure and certification of journalists. However, because the government is tasked with overseeing the enforcement of these requirements, critics have called the measures “retrogressive.”7 The Act provides that once an editor is appointed, the proprietor of a mass media organization must register the editor’s name, address, and proof of qualifications and experience with the Media Council.8 Failure to comply with these requirements may result in a fine of up to 300,000 shillings. In addition, the Act lays down specific minimum qualifications for editors; he or she must be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind, cannot be “an undischarged
  21. 21. 21Report for the Period June-November 2007 Freedom of Expression bankrupt or insolvent,” must be “ordinarily resident in Uganda” and must meet any other “requisite qualifications prescribed by the Council.”9 The Press and Journalist Act 1995 also establishes the National Institute of Journalists of Uganda (NIJU) designed “to establish and maintain professional standards for Journalists.”10 Requirements for full membership include that a journalist be “a holder of a University degree in Journalism or Mass Communication,” or if the degree is not in journalism or mass communication that in addition to a university degree, the journalist has “qualifications in journalism or mass communication; and has practiced journalism for a least one year.”11 In practice however, several media houses employ people without the minimum requirements pointed above. Many of these people have done tremendous work in the media industry and have received international awards for their work. For instance, Kavuma of The Weekly Observer, who does not have the qualifications, won the CNN African Journalist of the year award for his series on Uganda’s progress on the millennium development goals. Many radio presenters do not have the qualification required but continue to present good programs on radio and TV stations. Media house owners have also found some of the people who have the required qualification wanting in many aspects12 and others have argued that journalism is about talent – not just paper qualifications.13 According to Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda of The Weekly Observer, journalists who graduate with a degree and therefore meet the NIJU requirements often do not measure up to their employers’ expectations because they lack practical experience.14 In a survey conducted by the HRNJ in late 2005, 65% of practicing journalists have a diploma or certificate and only 15% have a degree. As many as 20% have no formal training at all but have gained on the job experience.15 This has raised questions, and justifiably so, as to whether the requirements in the law is indeed necessary. Media practitioners interviewed expressed mixed reactions about the relevance of the law. Some media practitioners argue that the requirement is too high and a certificate level training in journalism should suffice for full membership of NIJU.16 The opinions of the media practitioners is also shared by the secretary of the Media Council who agrees that those with diplomas and certificates should be granted membership and added that non-degree journalists should be encouraged to upgrade their formal qualifications after five years of practicing journalism.17 The Press and Journalist Act stipulates that in order to practice journalism, an individual must obtain a practicing certificate, which carries a fee and is renewable each year. Only with a certificate can a journalist be entered on the Register of Journalists of Uganda. Similarly, foreign journalists and free-lancers must obtain an accreditation card issued by the Media Council, however, at present this role is being exercised by the media centre.18 As of 2007,
  22. 22. Freedom of Expression 22 Report for the Period June-November 2007 out of the hundreds of practicing journalists there are only forty six journalists on the Register of journalists, all of whom are from the electronic media. According to the media centre, journalists are very strongly opposed to the requirement and have simply refused to comply. From a human rights perspective, the right to freedom of the media is a very broad right in terms of scope. The emergence of a free and vigorous press is an essential part of the process of democratization. A free, strong and steadfast press is a powerful institution in support of democracy. The free flow of information is necessary for a proper functioning of democracy and is also important in the protection of a whole range of rights and freedoms. Broadly, the freedom of the media relates to the rights to participate in public affairs and the rights to freedom of expression. This makes the requirements for registration and certification of media practice unrealistic. In any case NIJU does not determine the content of the training of journalists. Even if it did, the media ought to be a free ground for exchange of opinions even among non-journalists. 2.3.1.2 The Media Council The Press and Journalist Act 1994 establishes the Media Council as the primary regulatory body; tasked with regulating the conduct, ethical standards, and discipline of journalists and the media at large. Publishers are required under the Press and Journalist Act to register editors, TV and radio station owners to register producers, with the Council, and the Council is responsible for issuing certificates to journalists as well as accreditation cards for foreign journalists and free lancers.19 However journalists are not being issued certificates and the Council blames NIJU for this failure. Certificates cannot be issued unless journalists are first enrolled by NIJU.20 The Media Council is also empowered to arbitrate disputes between the State and the media or public and the media. In addition, the Council may “censor films, video tapes, plays and other related apparatus for public consumption,” and thereby “may refuse a film, video tape or apparatus to be shown, exhibited, or acted for public consumption.”21 In order to exercise discipline over journalists, editors, and publications, the Press and Journalist Act establishes a Disciplinary Committee comprised of members of the Media Council. The Disciplinary Committee hears complaints against journalists and may dismiss the complaint, admonish the journalist and/or require an apology to the aggrieved party, or require that the media outlet responsible for publishing the material compensate the aggrieved person. The Council may also suspend the journalist for a period of up to six months, during which the journalist may not practice.22 However, disputes are often taken to Court; Government does not bring journalists before the committee. The Media Council views this as a display of lack of trust in the institution by the stakeholders.23
  23. 23. 23Report for the Period June-November 2007 Freedom of Expression An institution that does not exercise its powers granted by the law makes it difficult for the public to appreciate its relevance. The Media Council is supposed to issue certificates of practice to journalists; it is not doing so; it is supposed to be the conflict mediation center in media disputes, it is not performing this task because most cases are either referred to the Courts or other government agencies. In response to the criticism for its role in the expulsion of a Canadian journalist Blake Lambert, the Media Council steadfastly denies allegations that it is toothless, lacks independence and that its functions are being usurped by the Media Center arguing that earlier this year when the Criminal Investigation Department forwarded over fifty print media extracts which it alleged negatively portrayed the State, the Media Council chose not to act on the cases. Asserting its independence, the Media Council resolved that “negative stories” do not fall under the mandate of the Council and further added that some of the stories were not specifically about the State.24 It is contended that the most positive function that the Media Council could serve in Uganda is a mediation role between journalists and the government. But this role has never been taken seriously. In general, the industry has no faith in the Media Council and does not feel that it serves the interests of journalists and editors. The Media Council has never stepped in to influence the government not to prosecute a journalist. In fact, even the state has no proven confidence in the Council, that is why it prefers to take errant journalists to court instead of producing them before the Council. Therefore, the Media Council has no justifiable function except to suppress the media.25 The Council acknowledges that many media practitioners doubt its independence. It is contended that while there is need for regulation, the media as a group that is essentially a government watch dog should not be directly regulated by the government. Registration happens across the board in different professions, e.g lawyers, doctors and architects. With regard to lawyers, the Uganda Law Society is the agency responsible for certification/ registration of lawyers, and since they are an independent body, they can adequately represent the interests of lawyers. A similar structure should be arranged for the registering body of journalists. It is recognized that self regulation is the best way of promoting standards and professional ethics.26 The Media Council is a government-controlled body that tries to suppress critical media bodies27 - it cannot play the role of effective media regulator. 2.3.2 Electronic Media Act, 1996 While the Press and Journalist Act 1995 places requirements on print journalists, the Electronic Media Act regulates media outlets and broadcast journalists. The measures included in the Act were recently described in a report by the Uganda Media Development Foundation as bordering “on state interference with freedom of expression,” particularly as they relate to standards of broadcasting.28
  24. 24. Freedom of Expression 24 Report for the Period June-November 2007 2.3.2.1 The Broadcasting Council The Electronic Media Act 1996 establishes the Broadcasting Council whose role is coordinating, exercising control over and supervising broadcasting activities. The Council also serves as a liaison with the Ministry of Information and advises Government on all matters relating to broadcast policy. The Broadcasting Council (BC) is tasked with issuing broadcast licenses for TV and Radio stations and licenses for operation of a cinematic theatre or video library.29 The Electronic Media Act also tasks the BC with the responsibility of standardizing, planning, managing, and allocating the frequency spectrum dedicated to broadcasting. Similar to the Media Council in relation to journalists, the Broadcasting Council sets ethical broadcasting standards, as set out in the First Schedule of the Electronic Media Act. In conjunction with the Media Council, the Broadcasting Council arbitrates disputes between the public and the broadcast media and between operators of broadcast stations.30 Some of the decisions taken by the BC in exercise of the powers conferred upon it under the Act include inter alia; On 11th August 2005, the BC took Kfm off air after the broadcast of a program on 10th August in which one of the Kfm journalists Andrew Mwenda, accused the government of transporting Sudanese Vice- President John Garang in a poor-quality helicopter and described the President as “coward” and a “failure”. According to the BC, the program had failed to meet the standards set out in the first schedule. The station was allowed back on air on 18th August 2005. On 27th January 2007, NTV signals were switched off by the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation on the orders of the BC. It was re-instated two days later only to be switched off a day later by officials from the BC who also confiscated some equipment belonging to the station. Apparently NTV had failed to meet its pre-license obligations leading to questions about how the station had been granted a license by the BC in the first place. In discussions with FHRI, Godfrey Mutabaazi, Chairman of the Broadcasting Council, explained that the Broadcasting Council had granted NTV a provisional license, despite its failure to meet all the requirements of a license.31 The provisional license was to be made a full license once NTV underwent mandatory pre- and post-installation inspection of equipment. When NTV had not undergone these inspections as of January 27, 2007, the Broadcasting Council moved to close NTV because of its failure to comply with its license obligations.32 The matter became the subject of a parliamentary probe which resulted in criticism of the BC’s handling of the saga and an order that the station should be put back on air.33 There is an overlap in duties between the Broadcasting Council and the Uganda Communication Commission and this was manifestly evident in the roles of the two bodies in the NTV closure and seizures of the Monitor newspaper equipment. The Uganda Communications Act, stipulates that the UCC “may confiscate any apparatus that is unlawfully
  25. 25. 25Report for the Period June-November 2007 Freedom of Expression possessed, installed, connected, or operated.”34 The Electronic Media Act, lays out that the Broadcasting “Council or its duly authorized officer may confiscate any electronic apparatus which is used in contravention of this Statute.”35 The power of the Broadcasting Council and the UCC to confiscate equipment for largely similar reasons amounts to a significant and complicated overlap in the powers of the two regulatory bodies. While the BC argues that there is no overlap between the powers of the Council and the UCC, with regard to the NTV situation, the UCC did seek the opinion of the Attorney General. The Attorney General acknowledged the grey area in the law but encouraged the two bodies to work together amicably and to consult each other when carrying out duties that appear to overlap.36 On 26th August 20004, Radio Simba featured a discussion on discrimination against homosexual individuals in Uganda. The BC imposed a fine of $1000 on the station and ordered it to apologise for having offended a wide section of the Public. According to the BC the program offended public morality. The Broadcasting Council was also implicated in the raid and closure of Choice FM in Gulu in February 2006. As FHRI reported earlier this year, police arrested Program Manager Martin Ojara Mapenduzi and accused the station of being a security threat. The accusation stemmed from a talk show featuring the opposition candidate for the District Chairman seat Norbert Mao and the incumbent, NRM candidate Colonel Walter Ochora. Mao had apparently harshly criticized the local and military authorities and accused them of corruption and mistreatment of local citizens. The station was again closed in March 2006 because the Broadcasting Council had ruled that a program aired on February 28 had not met minimum broadcasting standards. The program, according to the Council, was “likely to cause public insecurity or violence.” The Broadcasting Council also alleged that the station was operating without a license. Choice FM held that it was operating with a license which it had renewed on March 3, 2006.37 In a meeting with FHRI the BC stated that in March Choice FM was suspended because the station had not installed legally required recording equipment.38 The station was given the opportunity to purchase the necessary equipment but had not complied. Thus, the Council ordered the closure of the station to allow them to purchase the equipment. In February 2006, the UPDF raided Unity FM in Lira and arrested the station manager Jimmy Onapa, journalist Paul Odongo and two others. The arrests were the result of their reports of a meningitis outbreak in Moroto region and their remarks that additional NRM supporters were being moved into the region to increase attendance at an upcoming NRM presidential campaign rally.39 The BC explained that they had temporarily closed the station because of the reckless remarks made regarding the meningitis outbreak. The Chairman of the Broadcasting Council argued that there had been no official communication from the Ministry of Health or district health office in the region and thus the remarks by the radio personnel were unnecessarily alarmist.40
  26. 26. Freedom of Expression 26 Report for the Period June-November 2007 The provisions in the Electronic Media Act and the manner in which the BC is exercising the wide powers granted to it open the door to censorship and stand as a threat to freedom of expression. In addition, the mere existence of these provisions in the legislations as well as their ambiguity raises the potential for self-censorship among the media as they attempt to comply. 2.3.3 Uganda Communications Act 1997 In 1997, Parliament passed the Uganda Communications Act, which lays out additional – and seemingly duplicative – requirements for radio broadcasters. The Act stipulates that “No person shall, without a license issued under this Act – (a) establish or use any radio communication station, possess radio communications apparatus, or provide radio communications services; … (c) manufacture, possess, install, connect or operate any radio communications apparatus or interference causing apparatus.”41 Likewise, telecommunications stations and service providers are required under Section 24 to obtain a license from the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to operate.42 Similar to licenses under previous statutes, licenses issued pursuant to the Uganda Communications Act carry a fee and are subject to consideration whether the granting of the license is in the public interest.43 2.2.3.1 Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) The Uganda Communications Act 1997 establishes the UCC. By statute, the UCC regulates the national communications sector, setting and ensuring compliance with national communications standards, encouraging research, private investment and competition, and promoting consumer interests as regards quality and equitable distribution of services.44 As the body charged with implementing the objectives of the Uganda Communications Act, the Commission is in charge of enhancing and expanding coverage and variety of communications services and products as well as establishing and administering a fund for rural communications development.45 Much like the Broadcasting Council, however, the UCC is also responsible for licensing and regulating communication services and allocating and licensing the use of radio frequency spectrum.46 In the case of a radio communications system, these conditions and terms will include “the position and nature of the station, the purpose for and circumstances in which and the persons by whom the station may be installed or used.”47 The Commission has similar powers regarding specifications of telecommunications licenses. According to Section 27 of the UCC Act, “. . . to ensure the orderly development and efficient operation of radio communications in Uganda, the Commission shall be the exclusive authority to issue (a) licenses for radio communications apparatus and spectrum use…” and Section 28 states, “Notwithstanding any other law, the Commission shall
  27. 27. 27Report for the Period June-November 2007 Freedom of Expression have the exclusive duty to (a) plan, monitor, manage and allocate the use of radio frequency spectrum.” Like the Broadcasting Council, the Uganda Communications Commission’s appointed inspectors are empowered to “enter and inspect at any reasonable time any place owned by or under the control of an operator in which the inspector believes on reasonable grounds to be any document, information, or apparatus relevant to the enforcement of this Act and examine…or remove it for examinations or reproduction….”48 The same power applies for “any place in which the inspector has reasons to believe that there is any radio apparatus or interference-causing apparatus, and examine any radio apparatus, logs, books, reports, data, records, documents or other papers, and remove the information, document, apparatus, or equipment for examination or reproduction….”49 The UCC Act however does not specify how the Uganda Communications Commission and the Broadcasting Council are to interact. However, as stated above, under Section 6 of the Electronic Media Act, broadcasters must obtain a license from the Broadcasting Council, and according to Section 10, the Broadcasting Council is “responsible for the standardization, planning and management of frequency spectrum…and [the] allocat[ion of] such spectrum resources….”50 Despite arguments by the BC to the contrary, the powers granted to the UCC duplicate the powers bestowed on the Broadcasting Council as it relates to licensure of radio stations and allocation of frequency. Any difference is a matter of rhetoric and much confusion remains regarding the specific powers of the two bodies.51 In this regard, broadcast media owners have voiced frustration with and criticism of the seeming overlap in the roles of the UCC and the Broadcasting Council.52 As stated earlier, the Attorney General also acknowledged the ambiguity of the division of powers between the two. In discussions with FHRI, Fred Otunnu, Corporate Affairs Officer with the Uganda Communications Commission, argued that the laws need to be reviewed and revised with an eye towards merging the Broadcasting Council and Uganda Communications Commission. Such a merger, similar to that in other countries, would establish a one-stop- centre for the provision of communication services and regulation of broadcast media.53 Under Section 5 of the Uganda Communications Act, the UCC may “arbitrate disputes arising between operators and consumers…,” while the BC under Section 10 is empowered “to arbitrate, in consultation with the Media Council on disputes between…(b) the public and operators of broadcasting stations….” Such overlap creates duplication of government effort, misallocation of resources, and undue burden on media operators to comply with duplicate procedures. It also creates confusion regarding responsibility and accountability of Government as it relates to regulation of the media in as far as the UCC is responsible for advising the Government on communication policies and legislative measures in respect of the provision and operation of communication services, much like the Broadcasting Council advises Government on all matters relating to broadcast policy.
  28. 28. Freedom of Expression 28 Report for the Period June-November 2007 2.3.4 The Media centre The Media centre was created by the government in 2005. Its existence and mandate is not statutorily-based and as a result, the Center’s functions are not clearly defined. According to its website,54 the mission of the Media centre is to cause positive and factual public awareness of government services in the media. Its role is described as: • Through positive interaction with the media, i.e. print and electronic, Uganda Media centre will distribute various forms of government information originating from different departments. • The goal is to have a centralized location where all official government correspondence and information can be easily accessed. • Further, as part of our duties, Uganda Media centre will assist Uganda Media Council in the accreditation of foreign journalists in Uganda. • Our mandate is to assist in the research of journalist’s accreditation from various foreign countries and make recommendations to the Uganda Media Council. The Ministry of Information initiated the idea of setting up a Media Centre with the purpose of providing a one stop centre where journalists would access information concerning government programs without necessarily contacting the sector ministries. The Media Centre is supposed to smoothen the free flow of information.55 However, according to those in the media sector, the Media Center has thus far operated as a political prop, acting largely as the information outlet for the National Resistance Movement rather than as an independent government agency. 56 The Center has also been blamed for attempting to act in place of the Media Council, particularly in the accreditation of foreign journalists. Its “recommendations” to the Media Council are advisory in name only.57 Critics blame the media centre for the lackluster performance of the Media Council; they cite it as an illustration of one of the biggest problems in Uganda during the last twenty years; the destruction of institutions and their replacement with the arbitrary actions of individuals.58 In 2006, in usurpation of the accreditation role of the Media Council, the Media centre refused to renew the accreditation of Blake Lambert, correspondent for The Economist and The Christian Science Monitor. Lambert was declared ‘persona non grata’ and forced to leave the country. When he tried to return to Uganda and renew his media accreditation documents, he was refused entry without explanation. The Director of the Media centre at the time, alleged that Lambert’s work was biased and prejudicial to Uganda’s foreign interests. He added that Lambert expressed the views of the political opposition.59 In similar fashion, the accreditation of BBC correspondent Will Ross was shortened from one year to four months.60
  29. 29. 29Report for the Period June-November 2007 Freedom of Expression The Secretary of the Media Council, emphasized that the Council in this instance exercised its independence with regard to the expulsion of Blake Lambert and that the Media Centre had in fact misunderstood its role in the situation. The Media Council encouraged the government to lodge a formal complaint with the Council regarding the expulsion and upon hearing the complaint; the Media Council examined the evidence and concluded that Lambert had in fact adhered to the professional code of conduct for journalists. The Council encouraged the government, when information it deems injurious to the government is published, to use alternative means – such as correcting the information or filing a complaint with the Media Council Disciplinary Committee – to address the underlying issue of the injurious information. However, despite the Council’s recommendation, these alternative avenues were not explored and Lambert was ultimately expelled.61 However according to the Minister of Information, the Media Centre and the Media Council do not have overlapping mandates. The Media Centre is the main public relations agency of the government and speaks for the government. It is directly linked to the President’s office, while the Media Council under the Ministry of Information is a technical arm of the government to enforce information related laws, and thus, has a broader mandate.62 Journalists from different radio stations have on several occasions made allegations that they receive telephone calls from the Media centre either instructing talk show moderators to provide in advance the topics of discussion or inquiring about topics from recent talk show broadcasts. Such information, once broadcast, is public information, prompting fears that there are more sinister motives for requesting this information. Further, the function of regulating the content of electronic media programs is in fact under the purview of the Broadcasting Council. It is manifestly evident from the above that there is an unnecessary multiplicity of legislations and bodies governing media operations in Uganda; so much so that it is not clear, both in practice and under the law, which body does what and at what time. The multiplicity of regulating bodies has only fuelled confusion and created a situation where the suppression and manipulation of media houses has been made easy, that is, when one body seems independent and unwilling to execute an unlawful and unnecessary closure or seizure, the other body is used to execute the restrictions. This was the case with the expulsion of Blake Lambert and the closure of NTV. A consolidated law on the media, both electronic and print, and the creation of one controlling body, with clear and precise role would be a preferred situation and would enhance the exercise of the right to freedom of the media and provide for easier accountability.
  30. 30. Freedom of Expression 30 Report for the Period June-November 2007 2.3.5 Other Laws Impacting on Media Freedom in Uganda In addition to the laws directly governing the media, there are several other statutes, like the Penal Code, the Anti-Terrorism Act 2002, the Parliamentary and Presidential elections Acts 2005 which have a direct impact on the media and its operations. 2.3.5.1 Penal Code Act, Cap 120 The Penal Code Act contains several provisions that impact on media operations and criminalize various actions. Several of these provisions are quite restrictive. Not only do a number of these provisions restrict media freedom, they “(either in total or in very significant part), are manifestly unconstitutional, [and]…. almost all relics of the colonial epoch.”63 Under the Penal Code Act, the Minister in charge of information may, if he deems it to be in the public interest, prohibit the importation of publications. The definition of ‘’public interest’’ is left up to the Minister’s discretion. Anyone who contravenes the provision is subject to imprisonment for up to two years or a fine up to two thousand shillings. 64 The Penal Code also governs the content of published material. It outlaws the publication of information regarding “military operations, strategies, troop location or movement, location of military supplies or equipment of the armed forces or of the enemy.”65 According to the Uganda Media Development Foundation, during the conflict with the LRA in Northern Uganda, this provision would strongly hinder a journalist’s ability to accurately and objectively report on the conflict. The Penal Code Act further prohibits the publication of seditious material which material includes any material with intention “to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the person of the President, the Government as by law established or the Constitution…[or] to subvert or promote the subversion of the Government or the administration of a district.”66 The penalty for sedition is imprisonment of up to five years or a fine not exceeding fifty thousand shillings. Courts are granted the power to confiscate printing machines on which seditious material was printed and to prohibit the production of the publication for up to one year.67 The Penal Code also criminalizes the publication of material that is likely to promote sectarianism and imposes a penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment68 and outlaws the publication of material deemed to be defamatory: “likely to injure the reputation of any person by exposing that person to hatred, contempt or ridicule.”69
  31. 31. 31Report for the Period June-November 2007 Freedom of Expression Sections 49, 51, and 52 respectively make it a crime, to publish material that in anyway advances the cause of a boycott outlawed by the Minister,70 incites violence, or encourages the public to refuse or delay payment of a tax. The punishment for these crimes is imprisonment of up to six months, three years, and three years, respectively. The offending provisions of the Penal Code, taken together, severely curtail a journalist’s or broadcaster’s ability to fully exercise his or her right to freedom of expression. Further, they encourage a climate of self-censorship which is significantly damaging to press freedom because as a self-imposed restriction, it is difficult to measure or document. The penal provisions mentioned above have at various times been used against media practitioners in both print and broadcast media. There are several cases pending court determination which were brought against various journalists under the penal code. In August 2005 Andrew Mwenda was arrested for making seditious statements against President Museveni and his government relating to the government’s alleged role in the death of Sudanese First Vice President John Garang.71 He was charged with sedition and promoting sectarianism under the Penal Code. He later filed a petition in the Constitutional Court challenging the constitutionality of the law against sedition as well as the law against promoting sectarianism.72 The petition was merged with a similar petition from the East Africa Media Institute Limited (EAMIL) in October 2006.73 The Constitutional Court is yet to make a ruling on it. In June, 2006, James Tumusiime, editor, and Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, political editor, of The Weekly Observer, were charged with promoting sectarianism for having reported in December 2005 on FDC accusations that the President and high ranking military officials were targeting Kizza Besigye for ethnic reasons.74 Tumusiime and Ssemujju continue to report to court monthly based on the sectarian charges.75 The trial is on hold pending a ruling on Mwenda’s petition challenging the constitutionality of the law against promoting sectarianism.76 The Editor in Chief of The Red Pepper, Richard Tumusiime was charged with sedition on February 16, 2007, after the publication the previous day of a story alleging that the State House had paid the Kabaka of Buganda $1 million to fire the Katikiiro Dan Muliika. Mr. Tumusiime was released on bond.77 On September 30th , Chris Obore and Henry Ochieng were summoned to the CID for interrogation of a story that appeared in the Sunday Monitor of September 30th that army officers where being trained to take over top positions in the police. These penal provisions mentioned are archaic and a relic of colonialism. They have no place in modern legislation, democratic dispensation and human rights era. They only serve to enhance intolerance and subdue other people’s opinion. As Justice Mulenga famously remarked the ‘best way to react to falsity is by providing the truth.’
  32. 32. Freedom of Expression 32 Report for the Period June-November 2007 2.3.5.2 Anti-Terrorism Act, 2002 The global fight against terrorism has had an adverse impact on the freedom of the media. Uganda has sadly been no exception. The parliament of Uganda enacted the Anti- Terrorism Act in the wake of the September 11 attack on the USA. The Anti-Terrorism Act imposes additional burdens on the media, specifically related to coverage of any terrorist organization, and imposes a possible sentence of death on those found to have violated the law. The Act criminalizes journalists’ efforts to meet or speak with people or groups considered to be terrorists, again imposing a possible death sentence on the convicted.78 It outlaws the disclosure of information that may prejudice an investigation concerning terrorism.79 Finally, the Third Schedule details information protected under legal privilege, but excludes from that “journalistic material which a person holds in confidence and which consists of documents or of records other than documents.” The Act seeks to compel journalists to disclose sources of information; this is vehemently opposed by media practitioners for discouraging their news sources from providing leads to stories.80 The Act does not provide a definition of a terrorist organization; instead of providing a definition of a ‘terrorist organization,’ the Act delineates a list of acts which, when committed “for purposes of influencing the Government or intimidating the public or a section of the public and for a political, religious, social or economic aim, indiscriminately without due regard to the safety of others or property….” The lack of a clear definition of what constitutes a terrorist group renders reporting on organizations doubly risky for journalists. The Act makes reporting in conflict areas particularly difficult. Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda of The Weekly Observer echoed this sentiment saying that, the Anti-Terrorism Act is perhaps the greatest affront to freedom of the media because it puts significant strain on media efforts to report those stories that originate from parties to a conflict. Mr. Nganda and Frank Nyakairu of The Daily Monitor both pointed out that the law most directly impacts media ability to cover the conflict in Northern Uganda and abuses committed by security personnel. As a result, Mr. Nganda argued, the law deprives the public of information vital for its understanding of the conflict.81 The Anti-terrorism Act should clearly define what terrorist organizations are and should make provisions for the protection of whistle blowers. Security concerns are legitimate but must not override the freedom of expression because the right is a primary right and any limitations can but only be secondary; it should not override the primary rights unless it is justifiable, not far fetched and has a clear nexus with the report in question.
  33. 33. 33Report for the Period June-November 2007 Freedom of Expression 2.3.5.3 The Presidential Elections Act 2005 and the Parliamentary Elections Act 2005 The Presidential Elections Act and the Parliamentary Elections Act 2005, detail candidates’ rights to equal treatment and access to information and the media, and outline the responsibilities of media outlets related to campaigns and candidates. Under Section 24 of the Presidential Elections Act, all candidates are to be given equal treatment by State-owned media.82 Similarly, the Parliamentary Elections Act holds that “a candidate in an election shall not be denied reasonable access to and use of State-owned communication media.”83 During campaigns, private electronic media outlets are prohibited from knowingly using the media or allowing it to be used to enable a candidate to make or use false, malicious, sectarian, derogatory, exaggerated or derisive statements, words, songs, poems, or images.84 Further, both legislations criminalize the publication of false statements regarding a candidate’s illness, death or withdrawal for the purpose of securing the victory of another candidate, whether done knowingly or without reasonable grounds for believing it to be true.85 2.2.6.1 Media Conduct during the 2006 General Elections Studies carried out in the period showed that the state-owned media did not abide by the regulation stipulating that all candidates be afforded equal treatment. It was found that, as of January 2006 and in the weeks leading up to the election, UBC Television’s Prime News coverage and UBC Radio’s News House both demonstrated bias in favor of candidate Y.K. Museveni. Figures in the table below show the percentage of coverage afforded each candidate.86 It was also established that UBC TV’s coverage of Museveni “also tended to be far more positive than that of other candidates.”87 Table 1: Percentage Coverage of Presidential Candidates by UBC TV and Radio Candidate UBC TV88 Prime News UBC Radio News House As of January ‘06 Weeks leading As of Weeks leading up to election January ‘06 up to election Y.K. Museveni 88.5% 58.58% 61% 32.57% Kizza Besigye 11.5% See others 9.7% 22.07% Miria Obote negligible 9.07% 28.3% See others Others negligible Not among five Not among five leading subjects covered leading subjects covered Coverage of the election by WBS TV, on the other hand, was more balanced between Museveni and Besigye. However, significantly more coverage was granted to the two leading Source: DEMGroup/UJSC, Ugandans Decide: Final Report Presidential and Parliamentary Elections 2006
  34. 34. Freedom of Expression 34 Report for the Period June-November 2007 candidates over the other three.89 Private radio delivered more balanced coverage of the candidates90 Table 2: Percentage Coverage of Presidential Candidates by Privately-owned radio Candidate CBS Radio Radio West Prime News Y.K. Museveni 32.4% 39% Kizza Besigye 22.1% 52.6% Maria Obote No coverage No coverage Ssebanna Kizito 33.5% 5.5% Abed Bwanika 12% 2.9% The DEMGroup/UJSC reported that The New Vision “attempted to give equal coverage to all Presidential candidates.” The coverage afforded candidates, however, did not always address the election itself. Candidate Besigye, for instance, received significant coverage in January due to his trial. When looked at in conjunction with its sister, local language newspapers, The New Vision’s coverage demonstrated a bias toward Museveni.91 Table 3: Percentage Coverage and Quotation Granted Presidential Candidates by The New Vision and its sister newspapers Candidate Coverage Quotation Yoweri Museveni 38% 43% Kizza Besigye 31% 22% Ssebaana Kizito 14% 28% Miria Obote 10% 12% Abed Bwanika 7% 5% 2.4 Media Stakeholders’ Perception of the Regulatory and Legislative Framework FHRI conducted several interviews with journalists and other media stakeholders within both print and electronic media to obtain a general perception of the legislative and regulatory framework governing the media. The general sense among the media is that the legal framework does not enhance the freedom of the media to operate and express opinions. The perception of the laws that emerge were that: Source: DEMGroup/UJSC, Ugandans Decide: Final Report Presidential and Parliamentary Elections 2006 Source: DEMGroup/UJSC, Ugandans Decide: Final Report Presidential and Parliamentary Elections 2006
  35. 35. 35Report for the Period June-November 2007 Freedom of Expression The laws do not enhance media freedom but are often used to muzzle the press. Some of the laws are unnecessary, legislations such as that against sedition and the Anti-Terrorism Act, simply promote extreme forms of self censorship and remove all sense of discretion and responsible journalism. The media exercises their right to freedom of expression with restraint; out of fear that they may be arrested, detained, or charged with some offense.92 The restrictions on the media are ambiguous, enabling the government to use the laws to its advantage.93 The laws are applied selectively and unfairly. The government rarely uses these laws except when it is convenient to clamp down on critical journalists and media houses. For instance, while the law against sectarianism is meant to protect groups, it is used to clamp down on media discussion of particular groups. While in enforcing the laws relating to inciting the public, defamation, and sedition, the police express far less interest in stories critical of the opposition than they do in stories critical of the ruling party. The selective application was attributed to the fact that there is no separation in practice between the government and the ruling party. As a result, if a journalist writes about the NRM as a political party and is critical in his analysis, that journalist is viewed as having been critical not simply and solely of a political party but of the government itself. The government is then keen to look for an offense that may have been committed, combing the myriad of statutes governing journalistic content for the most appropriate law to indicate which offense has been committed.94 Deep concerns were also expressed regarding the draft legislation that would require all radio stations to install a device enabling the immediate and automatic interference with normal broadcasting in order to air national news or events like a presidential speech95 . With regard to the regulatory bodies, among the media representatives with whom FHRI spoke, these bodies are seen as either intrusive government instruments or at the least, Kampala-based bodies that have little relevance and interest in media outlets upcountry. The regulatory bodies are seen as largely political and not independent. Their lack of independence is attributed to the discretion afforded to the sector minister in appointing the Chaiperson of each body. Appointments to these bodies have been used largely as rewards to sympathizers of the ruling party and the office holders must appease the appointing authorities who are, in reality, politicians. Furthermore, when a regulatory body attempts to be independent, the government ultimately prevails over Often, the public and media hear different and sometimes conflicting views from the various bodies. The different bodies do not seem to know exactly what each should be doing and there are several contradictions and overlaps in their respective roles. For instance the role of both the Broadcasting Council and Media Council in arbitrating disputes. Reference was made to the confusion which ensued over which body should have acted in the recent closure of NTV.97
  36. 36. Freedom of Expression 36 Report for the Period June-November 2007 Regarding the Media Council, strong views were expressed that the Council does not operate independently of the government. It was argued that the Media Council’s composition is not designed for the media but to look out for government interests. Several journalists expressed the view that the Media Council operates as a means for the government to suppress the media without the appearance of direct government intervention. The Media Council’s role and support of government in the expulsion of Blake Lambert, a correspondent for The Economist, in 2006 was cited in support of this proposition. The role and relevance of the Media centre is ‘very unclear’ especially as all the functions `that the Center purports to exercise are already legislatively conferred on other organs. The Center is seen largely as nothing more than a disseminator of government information and most respondents would like to see its role revisited. A common opinion expressed was that the regulatory bodies are directed by the highest levels of government. Overall, the regulators are seen as weak and lacking independence and as being instruments which the government is able to use to enact repressive policies – without looking repressive. 2.5 Legislative and Regulatory Framework in Uganda vs International Human Rights Standards Several aspects in the legislative and regulatory framework of the media in Uganda fall below the acceptable international human rights standards and are an infringement on the freedom of expression. Broadcast regulation is necessary in order to avoid chaos in the radio spectrum; however any public authority that exercises powers in the areas of broadcast or telecommunications regulation should be independent and adequately protected against interference, particularly of a political or economic nature. The appointment process of members of the regulatory body should be open and transparent, involve the participation of civil society, and should not be controlled by any particular party.98 None of the regulatory bodies in Uganda meets these criteria. The rationale for regulation does not apply to the print media99 and it is acknowledged by African governments that effective-self regulation is the best system for promoting high standards in the print media.100 The licensing of newspapers, journals and magazines by the state is unacceptable.101 Further, statutory licensing of journalists as required under the Press and Journalists Act is a breach of the right to freedom of expression and Assembly.102
  37. 37. 37Report for the Period June-November 2007 Freedom of Expression Conclusion: Meaningful participation of the governed in their own governance, which is the hallmark of democracy, is only assured through optimal exercise of the freedom of expression.103 The regulatory framework for the media can serve as the guardian of press freedom. However, without streamlining, the overlap of functions particularly between the UCC and the BC will continue to hinder the right to free expression. Likewise, the multiple licensure, registration and certification requirements and fees create undue burdens that further hinder press freedom. Legislation governing the operation of the media and provisions that criminalise particular acts by the media, particularly the Penal Code, severely restrict journalists’ and broadcasters’ ability and right to “seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his/her choice.”104 This infringement in turn restricts the public’s freedom to access information and thereby hinders their ability to fully exercise their rights as well as responsibilities in a multi-party democracy. Recommendations: Government of Uganda should: 1) Restructure the Media Council to comprise primarily of professionals within the industry, with minority government representation. 2) Propose amendments to the Uganda communications Act 1997 and the Electronic Media Act 1997 to streamline the powers of the UCC and the BC to prevent the overlap and duplication of functions. 3) Review and define the powers and functions of the Media Center vis the Media Council. 1 Justice Mulenga in Constitutional Petition No. 2 of 2002 2 Article 29 of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda 3 Ibid Article 41 4 Ibid Article 43 5 Article 19 of the ICCPR 6 Article 9 of ACHPR 7 Uganda Media Development Foundation, “The State of Media Freedom in Uganda,” 2006, pp. 15. 8 Section 5 of the Press and Journalist Act Cap 105 Laws of Uganda 9 Press and Journalist Statute, Cap 105, Section 7. 10 Cap 105 Laws of Uganda, Section 14. 11 Cap 105 Laws of Uganda, Section 15. 12 FHRI Interview with Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, Political Affairs Editor, The Weekly Observer, June 15, 2007. 13 FHRI Interview with Godfrey Sebagala, Coordinator, HRNJ, June 25, 2007. End Notes
  38. 38. Freedom of Expression 38 Report for the Period June-November 2007 14 FHRI Interview with Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, PoliticalAffairs Editor, The Weekly Observer, June 15, 2007. 15 FHRI Interview with Godfrey Sebagala, Coordinator, HRNJ, June 25, 2007. 16 FHRI interview with Sebagal, Coordinator, HRNJ, June 25, 2007.and separate FHRI Interviews with Nasser Kayanja, Radio Simba, Frank Nyakairu, The Daily Monitor, June 25, 2007. 17 FHRI Interview with Paul Mukasa, Secretary, Media Council, June 28, 2007. 18 Cap 105 Laws of Uganda, Section 26-29. 19 ibid and Cap 105 Laws of Uganda, Section 3. 20 Presentation by John Mary Waliggo (Rev.Prof) at a Ford Foundation workshop. 27/03/07 21 Cap 105 Laws of Uganda, Section 9. 22 ibid, Sections 30-33. 23 Presentation by John Mary Waliggo (Rev.Prof) at a Ford Foundation workshop. 27/03/07 24 FHRI Interview with Paul Musaka, Secretary, Media Council, June 28, 2007. 25 FHRI Interview with Professor JJuko 9th August 2007 26 UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Information, Commonwealth Media Laws Project. 27 FHRI Interview with Dr. Henry Onoria, MUK Faculty of Law. 28 UMDF Report, pp. 16. 29 Cap 104 Laws of Uganda, Sections 2, 20. 30 ibid, Section 10. 31 Cap 104, S3(2) stipulates that the Council shall, before issuing a license under this section, take into account the following, (b) proof of existence of adequate technical facilities. 32 FHRI Interview with Godfrey Mutabaazi, Chairman, Broadcasting Council, June 19, 2007. 33 Among other things Parliament heard that the closure was done without involving all the members. After it was closed down, a meeting was called to approve the closure 34 Cap 106, Section 6(2). 35 Cap 104, Section 27(2). 36 FHRI Interviews with Godfrey Mutabaazi, Chairman, Broadcasting Council, June 19, 2007, and Fred Otunnu, Corporate Affairs Officer, Uganda Communications Commission, June 18, 2007. 37 FHRI, Uganda: Human Rights Status Report 2006, pp. 68. 38 Cap 104, Section 5 requires the proprietors or producers of broadcasting stations to retain a record of all that is broadcast for a period of not less than 30 days. 39 FHRI, Uganda: Human Rights Status Report 2006, pp. 68. 40 FHRI Interview with Godfrey Mutabaazi, Chairman, Broadcasting Council, June 19, 2007. 41 Uganda Communications Act, Cap 106 Laws of Uganda, Section 23. 42 The Uganda Communications Commission was created under the Uganda Communications Act and is discussed below in Section 2.3.3.1. 43 Cap 106 Laws of Uganda, Section 33. 44 Cap 106 Laws of Uganda, Sections 2, 4. 45 ibid. 46 Cap 106 Laws of Uganda, Sections 4, 23, 26, 27. 47 Cap 106 Laws of Uganda, Section 34. 48 Cap 106 Laws of Uganda, Section 54. 49 Cap 106 Laws of Uganda, Section 54. 50 Emphasis mine 51 Godfrey Mutabaazi, Chairman of the BC, in discussions with FHRI argued that the Council’s function is to coordinate and exercise control over and supervise broadcasting activities and be responsible for the standardization, planning and management of frequency spectrum dedicated to broadcasting. The function of UCC, on the other hand, is to monitor, inspect and regulate communication services and to allocate and license the use of radio frequency spectrum and to process applications for the allocation of satellite orbital locations. FHRI Interview with Godfrey Mutabaazi, Chairman, BC, June 19, 2007. 52 BBC Monitoring Research, February 2007. 53 FHRI Interview with Fred Otunnu, Corporate Affairs Officer, UCC, June 18, 2007. 54 www.mediacentre.go.ug 55 FHRI Interview with Mr. Mukasa, Secretary Media Council 56 BBC Monitoring Research, February 2007. 57 Robert Ménard, Secretary-General, Reporters without Borders, “How to Kick Out a Foreign Journalist,” in The Daily Monitor, March 31, 2006. 58 FHRI Interview with Professor JJuko, FoL, Makerere University. 9/08/2007 59 FHRI, Uganda: Human Rights Status Report 2006, pp. 66-67. 60 BBC Monitoring Research, February 2007; Human Rights Watch, “Uganda: New Government Threatens Free Press,” March 14, 2006; and FHRI, Uganda: Human Rights Status Report 2006, pp. 66. 61 FHRI Interview with Paul Mukasa, Secretary, Media Council, June 28, 2007. 62 FHRI Interview with Hon. Kirunda Kivejinja, Minister of Information and National Guidance, August 24, 2007.
  39. 39. 39Report for the Period June-November 2007 Freedom of Expression 63 Joe Oloka-Onyango, “The Limits of Free Expression under Museveni,” Uganda Journalism Review, No. 1, 1999, pp. 19, quoted in UMDF Report, pp. 10-11. 64 Sec. 34 of Cap 120 65 Penal Code, Cap 120 Laws of Uganda, Section 37. 66 Cap 120 Laws of Uganda, Section 39. 67 Cap 120 Laws of Uganda, Section 40, 42. 68 Section 41 of Cap 120 69 Cap 120 Laws of Uganda, Section 180. 70 The Minister may outlaw a boycott on the grounds that is brings into hatred or contempt or excites disaffection of the Government, jeopardizes the economy, or raises discontent or disaffection among the people or between different classes or races within the population. Cap 120 Laws of Uganda, Section 49. 71 HRW, “Uganda: New Government Threatens Free Press,” March 16, 2006, and FHRI Uganda: Human Rights Status Report 2005, pp. 11-12. 72 The charge of sectarianism referred to the article published in 2005 in The Daily Monitor regarding anti-Bairu remarks. US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2006, Uganda. 73 Milton Oluput and Hillary Nsambu, “Mwenda Petition Merged,” The New Vision, October 13, 2006. 74 FHRI Uganda: Human Rights Status Report 2006, pp. 66. 75 FHRI report on Freedom of Association, pp. 65 76 Hillary Kiirya and Edward Anyoli, “Court Suspends Observer Trial,” The New Vision, June 23, 2006. 77 FHRI The Right to Freedom of Association and Assembly, Human Rights Status Report for the Period January – May 2007, pp. 66. 78 Section 11 thereof 79 Section 12 80 FHRI Interview with Nasser Kayanja, Senior Reporter, Radio Simba, June 25, 2007. 81 FHRI Interviews with Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, The Weekly Observer, June 15, 2007, and Frank Nyakairu, Conflict and Human Rights Reporter, The Daily Monitor, June 25, 2007. 82 State-owned media include radio and television under the Uganda Broadcast Corporation and The New Vision and its local language subsidiaries. 83 The Parliamentary Elections Act, 2005, Section 22. 84 The Presidential Elections Act, Section 24; and The Parliamentary Elections Act, Section 22. 85 The Presidential Elections Act, Section 66; and The Parliamentary Elections Act, Section 70. 86 Democracy Monitoring Group/Uganda Journalists Safety Committee (DEMGroup/UJSC), Ugandans Decide: Final Report Presidential and Parliamentary Elections 2006, pp. 43; and DEMGroup/UJSC, “Report on the State Media Coverage of the 2006 Elections, January 2006, cited in Report of the Commonwealth Observer Group, March 2006, Annex XI. 87 Report of the Commonwealth Observer Group, March 2006, pp. 29. 88 Of its overall coverage of political institutions in January 2006, UBC TV granted 62.4% to NRM-O, 6.4% to the FDC and no coverage to the UPC. DEMGroup/UJSC, “Report on the State Media Coverage of the 2006 Elections, January 2006, cited in Report of the Commonwealth Observer Group, March 2006, Annex XI. 89 Report of the Commonwealth Observer Group, March 2006, pp. 29. 90 DEMGroup/UJSC, “Report on the State Media Coverage of the 2006 Elections, January 2006, cited in Report of the Commonwealth Observer Group, March 2006, Annex XI. 91 DEMGroup/UJSC, Ugandans Decide: Final Report Presidential and Parliamentary Elections 2006, pp. 44. 92 FHRI Interviews with Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, The Weekly Observer, June 15, 2007, and Frank Nyakairu, Conflict and Human Rights Reporter, The Daily Monitor, June 25, 2007. 93 ibid 94 FHRI Interview with Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda 95 FHRI interview with a Journalist who preferred not to be named 96 FHRI Interviews with Joseph Malinga, The Daily Monitor, Mbale Office, June 28, 2007, and Ahmed Wetaka, Open Gate FM, Mbale, June 27, 2007. 97 FHRI Interview with Ahmed Wetaka, Open Gate FM, Mbale, June 27, 2007. 98 Ibid. 99 Article 19: Statement on the Draft Media Council of Kenya Bill, 2006. 100 ACHPR/Res 62(XXXII) 02: Resolution on the Adoption of the Declaration of Principles of Freedom of Expression in Africa (2002). 101 The Commonwealth Media Laws Project; Statement on Freedom of Expression, 1997. 102 In Kasoma v. Ag, 22 August 1997,95/HP/29/59. High Court of Zambia stressed that statutory licensing of journalist would be a breach of the right to freedom of expression and Assembly. 103 Justice Mulenga in Const Appeal No.2 of 2002. 104 ICCPR, Article 19(2).
  40. 40. Freedom of Expression 40 Report for the Period June-November 2007 Journalists demonstrate against the police. (Photo by Wandera W’Ouma)
  41. 41. 41Report for the Period June-November 2007 Freedom of Expression CHAPTER THREE: Independence of the Media in Uganda 3.0 Introduction T he terms ‘’media freedom and independence of the media’’ have most times been used interchangeably to mean the same thing. The terms have become the synonym of the key precept of the freedom of expression and are used in this section in that context. Commenting on the general right to freedom of expression, the UN Human Rights Committee observed that the parameter to be used to examine the exercise of this right are not only the constitutional provisions but also the rules which either define the scope of freedom of expression or which set forth certain restrictions as well as any other conditions which in practice affect the exercise of this right. The right to freedom of expression is grounded, inter alia, in the belief that the creation of a favourable climate for stability, predictability and fair competition is essential for the independence of the media. The two pre-requisites for the freedom of expression are an independent press and a pluralistic press. An independent press means that the press should be independent from governmental, political or economic control or from control of materials and infrastructure essential for the production and dissemination of newspapers, magazines and periodicals. A pluralistic press means the end of monopolies of any kind and the existence of the greatest possible number of newspapers, magazines and periodicals reflecting the widest possible range of opinion within the community.1 Since the early 1990s, the Ugandan media industry has had a major boom. The hitherto state dominated and controlled media space has since been liberalized. The liberalization of the media industry came along with the ratification of several international and regional human rights instruments2 that guarantee inter alia the right to freedom of expression and media freedom; and the promulgation of the 1995 constitution with an elaborate bill of rights.3 These legal provisions have set the standard for the practice and exercise of these rights and have become the benchmark against which compliance and observance of various rights are measured. The liberalization of the media industry in Uganda placed the ownership and management of media houses largely in the hands of the private sector. Private individuals and companies own most of the media houses.4 Private ownership of the media exists alongside state run media houses.5 The multiplicity of media operations and owners in Uganda meets the

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