Parliament calls for dismissal of journalists case


Lawyers representing the Parliament of Uganda have asked court to dismiss with costs the case brought against it by the Uganda Parliamentary Press Association (UPPA) for being defective and lacking grounds.

In its communication to media houses in January 2016, the Clerk to Parliament, citing the need for fair, accurate and balanced reporting, set the bar high for accreditation of journalists covering the 10th Parliament to only those with degrees.

UPPA, being unhappy with the new measures took Parliament to court with the prayer that court quashes the directive of the Clerk to Parliament and also stops it from implementing the directive.

While making his preliminary objections before Justice Yasin Nyanzi at the High Court Civil Division on Tuesday, 26th April 2016, Mr. Solomon Kirunda, raised various grounds upon which the application should be dismissed.

“Evidence on record reveals that while the directive of the Rt. Hon. 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.

“Media houses have seconded journalists and Parliament has accredited them. The application has been overtaken by events and is therefore moot,” said Mr. Kirunda.

He told court 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 explained, adding “Communication was never addressed to UPPA but to media houses who have never complained but complied with the requirements.”

On his part Mr. Isaac Semakadde, lawyer for the applicants, argued that UPPA being an umbrella body of journalists was affected by the directive from the Clerk to Parliament and therefore sought redress.

Parliament is being represented by Sitnah Cherotich (Lead Counsel) and Mr. Solomon Kirunda while the applicants (UPPA), are represented by Isaac Semakadde and Sheila Namahe.

Court adjourned until 2nd May 2016 at 11:00a.m. for a rejoinder by the Parliamentary Commission after which it shall fix a date to deliver its ruling on the matter.

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