High Court Cancels Suspension of Journalists from Parliament

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In short
The ruling follows a successful petition through which the journalists challenged a directive by the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga barring them from covering Parliament.

High Court in Kampala has annulled the suspension of two journalists Sulaiman Kakaire and David Tash Lumu from covering parliament procedures.

The ruling follows a successful petition through which the journalists challenged a directive by the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga barring them from covering Parliament.

The suspension came as a punitive measure for having authored two stories allegedly against Kadaga her and her deputy Jacob Oulanyah.

The articles were titled; How Kadaga, Oulanyah fought over petition and House recall; petitioners strike deal with Kadaga, Published in the Observer Newspaper on January 21, 2013 and January 23, 2013 respectively.

Kadaga said that the two articles were inaccurate and to that effect; damaging the offices and persons of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Parliament.

Her annoyance was followed by a letter dated January 28, 2015, by Parliament Public Relations Manager Helen Kaweesa, accusing the two writers of filing "inaccurate" articles.  Kaweesa added that the two Journalists had been indefinitely suspended from Parliament for "flouting rules and guidelines" that govern Parliamentary media coverage.

But Justice Yasin Nyanzi held in a verdict today that the journalists were never granted a right to be heard, an omission he said is against the rules of natural justice.

"I find that the applicant's right to a fair hearing was violated and the decision made and or passed in absence of a fair hearing ought to be quashed." the judgment reads.  He adds that; "the decision made by Parliament through the office of the Clerk to Parliament dated 28th January 2013 to suspend the applicants (journalists) was Invalid."

The court also awarded costs to the journalists for having successfully pursued this law suit.

But on the contrary, the judge declined to award the journalists damages on grounds that they failed to show court that as the result of their suspension, they suffered loss of income.

The journalists had brought the law suit against Parliamentary Commission and the Clerk to Parliament.