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MPs back artists in calling for scraping of UCC’s art censorship regulations

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MPs back artists in calling for scraping of UCC’s art censorship regulations

UNCC board. Chairman Sam Okello-kello addressing the media recently

Workers representatives in Parliament have joined the artists community in Uganda in calling for a review of the new controversial regulations by the telecommunications regulator UCC.

This comes after artists led by their custodians the Uganda National Cultural Centre (UNCC) rose up in arms over what they branded as censorship dressed as regulations.

Workers MPs Charles Bakkabulindi and Margaret Rwabushaija in a news conference yesterday at Parliament urged artists to bring a petition to the Speaker of Parliament asking to review the regulations.

On May 28, with the stewardship of UCC, Parliament passed the Uganda Communications Film, Documentary and Commercial Still Photography regulations 2019 and the Stage Play and public entertainment rules 2019.

Earlier in the week, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Uganda National Cultural Center Sam Okello-Kello asked government to review Uganda Communications Commission’s new artists regulations.

Okello argued that besides the fact that the regulations encroach on the mandate of UNCC, they stifle creativity.

“A thorough review of the two institutions mandates is needed to create harmony and avoid unnecessary overlaps, confusion and duplication of roles,” he said.

UNCC this week stepped up fight with UCC, both being government institutions, over new censorship regulations for art works such as plays, songs and videos.

The passing of the rules means that artists have to submit their works for approval before they can be allowed for airing or staging.

The regulations have since sparked public outrage as they represent an encroachment on the liberties and very foundations of art as an industry that thrives on freedom of thought and creativity.

Okello said that UNCC was not consulted as a government body whose mandate is to promote and regulate the industry before the new regulations were introduced.

“UNCC was not consulted, we need to have some engagements with UCC to review the law so that everyone is contented,” added Okello.

Okello added that the creative industry operates in a complex environment that requires well crafted laws, policies and regulations for it’s development.

“We definitely need free space for our artists to perform well. If artists are going to bring their scripts for review, we must know to what extent. We must set the dos and don’ts that we all have to agree on to achieve a framework that makes us all happy,” he urged.

This came after artists like Gerald Kiwewa and the comedy group “Bizonto” were recently arrested over their compositions.

Regarding the arrest of Bizonto, Okello said he was not aware of their situation.

“We are not aware of these arrests, we will find out more, but if these artists went out of their way and violated the law then we can only let the police deal with them,” he commented.

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