UCC: Halting Sim Card Registration Affects Crime Investigation

4038 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
In a written reply to court, Victoria Sekandi, the UCC lawyer argued that granting interim order stopping the verification exercise will impede implementation of law requirements. Sekandi referred to the Registration of Persons Act, 2015 that requires SIM card users to register their cards using national identification cards.

Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has asked court to reject an application seeking interim orders to halt the ongoing verification of the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards.
  
On Tuesday, Norman Tumuhimbise, the Coordinator of the Jobless Brotherhood, a youth pressure group, filled an application in the Civil Division of the High Court asking court to temporally block the ongoing verification.
  
Through his lawyers of Niwagaba and Mwebesa Advocates, Tumuhimbise, also a member of Rights Trumpet Ltd says it was unfair and unconstitutional for UCC to restrict citizens to using only the national Identity Cards for registration yet there are other official documents like passports. Foreign nationals have been allowed to use these same documents for the same exercise.
  
In a written reply to court, Victoria Sekandi, the UCC lawyer argued that granting interim order stopping the verification exercise will impede implementation of law requirements.
  
Sekandi referred to the Registration of Persons Act, 2015 that requires SIM card users to register their cards using national identification cards.
  
"The grant of interim order will prevent law enforcement organs from investigating and detecting serious crimes committed by mobile phone subscribers," Sekandi told court.
  
She said the Registration of Persons Act enacted in March 2015 made registration of national identity cards mandatory and the act also made use of national identity cards mandatory for SIM card registration services.
  
"The national identity card is a superior identification document capturing all biometrics and personal identification particulars done at local level," Sekandi said.
  
She said the application should not be granted because SIM card verification and registration will continue after the deadline and any person whose card is blocked will have an opportunity to reactivate it.
  
Though the application was supposed to be heard at 9:30am, it's yet to start because lawyers representing both sides are still holding back-door meetings with Assistant Court registrar Joy Kabagye .
  
On April 12, UCC issued a seven-day ultimatum within which all subscribers of mobile telecom services have to update their SIM card details.
  
At a meeting with officials from the telecom companies, UCC executive director Godfrey Mutabazi warned that all SIM cards whose details are not updated and verified by service providers before Thursday this week would be deactivated.
  
But in their main suit, the activists want court to set aside the whole process and declare as invalid UCC's decision.
  
Justice Stephen Musota, the head of the Civil Division is set to hear the main application.