Members of Parliament have called for tougher laws to curb inaccuracies and sensationalism carried in the media.
MPs, who were reacting to a communication from Speaker Rebecca Kadaga during plenary on Thursday, 15th September 2016 said media houses were abusing their freedom of expression.
In her communication, Speaker Kadaga said several publications and broadcasts were meant to ridicule and tarnish the image of Members of Parliament.
Media reports that incensed legislators centred on funds budgeted for MPs’ funerals, motor vehicles, and inaccurate reports that 78 members were facilitated by Parliament to attend the Uganda North American Association (UNAA) Convention held in the US at a cost of Shs 2billion.
“If this continues, we are going to issue sanctions; editors will be called here to explain what they published, and apologise to the country. Do not abuse your privileges,” Kadaga said.
She added that the “campaign was a pattern that was well funded.” She also warned MPs not to comment about subjects on which they do not have the right information.
The Speaker instructed the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline to examine the said publications and reports with a view of charging the media houses with contempt of Parliament.
“If we hit the media houses (with lawsuits), they’ll end up like the Uganda Confidential (which suffered huge losses following court suits),” said Kadaga.
Hon. Odonga Otto (FDC, Aruu) also advocated for aggrieved MPs resorting to courts of law but warned Members against ridiculing colleagues on international duty and recommended that those cited be referred to the Committee on Rules.
Honourable Peter Sematimba (NRM, Busiro South) said the Electronic Media Act and the Press and Journalists Act were weak on the media and journalists and needed to be strengthened to put discipline into the media field.
Hon. Anthony Ssemuli (NRM, Mubende Municipality) moved that Parliament amends the laws governing local content and media institutions so as to make media houses and journalists accountable under oath.
“Why not take media to court? We cannot watch while they are committing crimes against Parliament,” said Hon. Charles Angiro (FDC, Erute North).
Parliament Commissioner Peter Ogwang (NRM, Usuk) said it’s only in Uganda that freedom of the media is abused.
“We should review laws regulating the media and look to the future,” he said adding “I appeal to journalists to be nationalistic; you are destroying the country.”
Minister Chris Baryomunsi (NRM, Kinkizi East) asked the Parliamentary Commission to strengthen guide