The Parliamentary Committee of Human Rights has summoned the National Association of Broadasters (NABS) board and presidents of media associations next week to brief the committee on the souring relations with Uganda Communications Commission (UCC).
The summons follow UCC Executive Director Engineer Godfrey Mutabazi’s non-appearance at the committee on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. Mutabazi was supposed to respond to queries from the committee stretching from 2017 to date on the violation of rights of the media.
Members of the committee said parliament had been closely monitoring the recent deterioration of relations between the media and its regulator UCC. They hoped an interface between the human rights committee and UCC ED Mutabazi would clarify on the standoff.
To their dismay, Mutabazi was a no show on Wednesday.
Mutabazi sent in his place the UCC Director of Cooperative Affairs Fred Otunnu which angered the committee members.
The committee chairperson Egunyu Nantume argued, “We could not accord audience to UCC without Mutabaazi and its unfair for him not to respect the committee and we think this is unfair for UCC to undermine the committee.”
During a closed door meeting, committee members resolved to summon NAB and heads of media houses to further educate themselves on the impasse with the regulator.
UCC issued a directive to suspend close to 13 heads of media houses over a live broadcast of Kyadondo East legislator Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu.
After the meeting, Nantume said, “We have to meet NAB and to brief us on how their rights have been violated by UCC.”
Kalungu West MP Joseph Ssewungu Kalungu said, “We suspect Engineer Mutabazi was fearing to face us because of the recent headlines in papers over suspension of editors and that’s why we have resolved to interact with them first before facing off with him.”
Otunnu’s attempts to defend UCC fell on deaf ears as the MPs insisted he return to the committee with his boss Godfrey Mutabazi. Otunnu explained that UCC ED Mutabazi was unable to respond to the summons because he had an urgent board meeting to attend.
He went on to say that Mutabazi does not belittle the human rights committee and has always honoured all invitations.