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Rights body protests excessive powers given to communications minister

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Rights body protests excessive powers given to communications minister

Robert Ssempala Coordinator of HRNJ

Robert Ssempala Coordinator of HRNJ

Human Rights Network for Journalism Uganda (HRNJ) has protested the way in which Parliament passed an amendment to the Uganda Communications Act 2013 which granted the Communications minister overwhelming powers to make regulations without Parliament’s approval.
On April 6, 2017 Parliament passed an amendment to the Uganda Communications Act 2013 that granted the Minister of Information Communication Technology full powers to make and enforce regulations minus prior approval from the legislature.
HRNJ filed the petition in the constitutional court in 2016, before the amendments were passed.
Robert Ssempala, the Coordinator of HRNJ argues that: “We challenge the constitutionality of the law which gives powers to the minister, yet the flamers of this particular law in 2012 saw it that communication is such a sensitive sector which will never at any time be led by a political appointee.”
Ssempala expressed shock that almost all stakeholders who submitted views on the amendment to the Parliamentary Committee, but were still adopted.
“100% of us (stakeholders) were against the amendment of giving too much powers to the minister in this new system and its this same minister who now has brought about new directives that are dangerous to the operations of the sector,” said Ssempala
Ssempala argued that the minister is well known for introducing orders that violate article 29 of Uganda’s constitution which guarantees citizens freedom of expression.
Ssempala argued that minister’s capacity to misuse his powers was recently exposed when the current minister defied Frank Tumwebaze recently defied Parliament resolutions on switching off unregistered sim cards.
Sempala appealed to the media and all other sector players to stand together to oppose the law, saying: “If we don’t stop this the minister, he will wake up one day and say no more live coverage of events, or he could say no covering press conference called by opposition because he has all the powers to do so.”

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