Media Should Challenge Defiance Coverage Ban in Court - Rukutana

2165 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Rukutana says that the directive announced by Information Minister Jim Muhwezi is based on a court order issued by Deputy Chief Justice Stephen Kavuma on April 29. The order follows a constitutional application lodged by the Attorney General seeking determination of the legality of the defiance campaign and its activities.

The Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana has advised Journalists to seek legal redress if they feel offended by a directive barring the coverage of activities under the opposition-led defiance campaign.

Rukutana says that the directive announced by Information Minister Jim Muhwezi is based on a court order issued by Deputy Chief Justice Stephen Kavuma on April 29. The order follows a constitutional application lodged by the Attorney General seeking determination of the legality of the defiance campaign and its activities.

Muhwezi declared that any media house that continues covering the defiance campaign risks having its broadcasting license revoked. Media practitioners however believe that the ban is ridiculous and unconstitutional.

Rukutana says journalists and media houses will be prosecuted under section 117 of the penal code if they ignore the court order. He says that a court order can only be set aside by another order even when one thinks that it is not justified.

Rukutana says it is better for journalists to challenge the order through legal means.
 
//Cue in: "disobeying lawful order…….
 Cue out: …a competent court"//
 
In the same order, Justice Kavuma barred the Forum for Democratic Change-FDC party, its presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye, party supporters and any other person from holding demonstrations, processions, media campaigns and meetings pending determination of the main application.

The campaign was started by the forum for democratic change in protest of the outcome of the 2016 presidential election in which National Resistance Movement presidential candidate Yoweri Museveni was re-elected for another five year term of office.

Dr George Lugalambi, a media consultant says that the journalism fraternity needs to unite to challenge the order. He says that if the media does not act now, the silence will set a bad precedent for Uganda's media industry and the quest for freedom of expression.

He says both the legitimacy and legality of the court order is questionable.

 

About the author

Alex Otto
“Journalism that changes lives is my goal,” Alex Otto has said on more than one occasion. That is his career’s guiding principle. Has been since he was a radio journalist in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu in 2009.

Otto passionately believes his journalism should bring to the fore the voices of the voiceless like the shooting victims of Apaa. Otto tries in his journalism to ask tough questions to those in positions of authority.

Based in the Kampala bureau, Otto is especially interested in covering agriculture, politics, education, human rights, crime, environment and business. He has reported intensively on the post-conflict situation in northern Uganda.

A URN staff member since 2014, Otto previously worked with The Observer Newspaper from 2012 to 2013 and later the Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR based in Gulu.

He was the URN Gulu bureau chief 2014-2016.