UCC Says Anti-pornography Bill is a Constitutional Challenge

2567 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
There is need to explain terms such as sexual activity and conduct, sexual parts and whether it applies to both men and women contained in the anti-pornography Bill.

There is need to explain terms such as sexual activity and conduct, sexual parts and whether it applies to both men and women contained in the anti-pornography Bill.

The Uganda Communication Commission led by Patrick Mwesigwa notes that failure to define such terms raise constitutional challenges with regard to implementation with respect to investigation and arrest of offenders.

Appearing before the Legal and Presidential Affairs committee led by Fox Odoi MP West Budama, UCC also notes that the Bill does not provide time frames for the proposed implementation strategy.

Mwesigwa appeals that the Bill should look mainly at the content and not the platform since technology is evolving and this might render some of the provisions inapplicable.

He adds that there is need to explain cultural dress and dance which reveal sexual parts. Others are erotic behaviour that is intended to cause sexual excitement and indecent behaviour intended to cause corrupt morals.

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Javerson Kamugisha, the head legal affairs at the Uganda Communication Commission, also notes that the proposers of the Bill did not take into account the constitutional requirement of respecting cultural practices and customs.  

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The Bill also proposes conviction of offenders found in custody or viewing in a premise unless authorized in writing for purposes of education and sensitization. Mwesigwa wonders what happens if it’s for private viewing.

It also further proposes to close indefinitely any internet provider who promotes, publishes, sells or imports pornography contrary to the Act. The Bill also gives power to the committee to install equipment on land, premises or vehicle for purposes of monitoring compliance with the act, but the UCC asks how it can happen without a court order which would tantamount into criminal trespass.

Last week Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo presented the proposed law arguing that it is needed to protect women and children against exploitation and curb the increasing immorality. Mwesigwa says there are a number of areas in the Bill that are already catered for in the Uganda Communications Act 2013 passed early this year so as to avoid any possible conflict.

However, MP’s on the committee dismissed the Bill saying Father Lokodo should not waste their time since it is already unpopular. Yona Musinguzi MP Ntungamo municipality wonders who is going to supervise him when he decides to watch pornography on social websites such as twitter, you tube and facebook.

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The Bill also prohibits any combination of the preceding that depicts unclothed or under clothed parts of the human body such as breasts, thighs, buttocks and genitalia.

Wilfred Niwagaba wonders which culture will be crimialised citing his Lukiga culture which allows them to put on hide thus rendering some of their private parts exposed. Niwagaba calls for a review of the Bill or else it risks being shelved.

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