Government has been dragged to court over its recent directive requiring journalists to be registered and accredited before covering the forthcoming 2021 general election.
The Media Council recently directly that only registered and accredited journalists by the council will be allowed to cover the forthcoming polls.
However, in a suit filed on Thursday, the Editors Guild Uganda Limited and the Centre for Public Interest Law the directives by the Media Council were said to be illegal and curtail media and press freedoms.
“The directive to register all journalists before they are permitted to cover any election and other state events barely a month to the 2021 general election is irrational,” an affidavit sworn by Daniel Kalinaki, the interim chairperson of the Editors Guild Uganda Limited says.
“The impugned directives will have the effect of fuelling the brutality of the security forces and malicious against journalists in the guise of enforcing and implementing the impugned directive further curtailing and unreasonably restricting constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms.”
The editors’ body argues that the Media Council’s directive to register and licence journalists contravenes cap 105 of the Press and Journalists Act which emphasizes the need by government to constitute, maintain and operationalize the National Institute of Journalists of Uganda(NIJU) as a body mandated to enroll journalists in the country.
According to the editors, it is illegal and irregular for the Media Council to carry out the mandate of registering journalists under the Press and Journalists Act, cap 105 when it is not fully constituted.
The Editors Guild Uganda Limited and the Centre for Public Interest Law have in their application asked court to quash the registration and accreditation of the journalists for covering the forthcoming 2021 general election since it is illegal and irregular.
“The applicants are seeking for an order of prohibition restraining the Media Council of Uganda and any other regulatory agents of the government of Uganda and security organs from illegally and irrationally curtailing media and press freedoms of journalists to cover 2021 elections and other state functions.”
The editors’ body also wants court to declare that failure by government to constitute, maintain and operationalize the statutory National Institute of Journalists of Uganda to enroll journalists under the Press and Journalists Act is illegal and irregular.