Parliament asks Court to Dismiss Journalist's Case

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In short
However, the UPPA lawyer, Isaac Ssemakadde argued that UPPA being the umbrella body for journalists accredited to cover the house was affected by the directive from the parliamentary commission and therefore sought redress.

The Parliamentary Commission has asked court to dismiss the petition filed by Uganda Parliamentary Press Association-UPPA challenging the fresh guidelines imposed on media practitioners in the house on grounds that it is defective. In January this year, parliament asked media houses to submit names of journalists with degrees in mass communication or any related discipline for accreditation to cover the 10th parliament. 

It also said journalists who had covered the house for more than 10 years wouldn't be accredited. The move drew angry protests from Uganda Parliamentary Press Association, the umbrella body of journalists accredited to cover the house. The petitioned court seeking for orders staying the enforcement of the new guidelines.

However, on Tuesday, parliament through its lawyers, Sitnah Cherotich and Solomon Kirunda asked High court presided over by Justice Yasin Nyanzi to dismiss the petition with costs, saying it is deficient and baseless. "Evidence on record reveals that while the directive of the Speaker was made on 20th February 2015, the application was filed on 14th January 2016, which is 329 days as opposed to the required 90 days after the directive was issued," Kirunda told court.

He also argued that the application has been overtaken by events since media houses have already seconded journalists to parliament for accreditation to cover the Tenth Parliament.  Kirunda also claimed that Parliament as an institution relates with media houses and not individual journalists. "UPPA is a mere busy body interfering in processes that do not concern them," he said, adding that, "Communication was never addressed to UPPA but to media houses who have never complained but complied with the requirements." 

However, the UPPA lawyer, Isaac Ssemakadde argued that UPPA being the umbrella body for journalists accredited to cover the house was affected by the directive from the parliamentary commission and therefore sought redress. His colleague Sheila Namahe said all technicalities raised by the parliamentary legal team were misconceived and not sufficient for dismissing the case at the preliminary level.

"The technicalities have been raised to waste court's time and increase expense for UPPA", she said. She also noted that it was not unusual for an umbrella body to represent the interests of their members when their rights are affected or threatened by governmental action. 

Justice Yasin Nyanzi adjourned the house to May 2nd to allow the Parliamentary Pommission to make a rejoinder to the submissions before he fixes a date for ruling on the matter.

 

About the author

Olive Nakatudde
Olive Nakatudde is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Nakatudde has been a URN staff member since 2013.

Nakatudde started out in journalism in 2009 with Dembe FM radio in Kampala. In 2012, Nakatudde joined Voice of Africa as a political reporter. She has been a photographer since her journalism school days at Makerere University.

Nakatudde is interested in good governance and public policy, which she reports on intensively from the Uganda Parliament. She is a keen follower of cultural affairs in Buganda Kingdom and covers the kingdom's Lukiiko (parliament). Nakatudde also reports on education and health.