Journalists Warn on Withdrawal of Office Space

1659 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Through its lawyer, Isaac Ssemakadde, UPPA argues that the decision by Chris Obore, the Director of Communications and Public Affairs at Parliament to withdraw office space from journalists could result into unnecessary and avoidable conflict.

The Uganda Parliamentary Press Association - UPPA has written to the Clerk to parliament, Jane Kibirige protesting the withdrawal of office space from journalists.

Through its lawyer, Isaac Ssemakadde, UPPA argues that the decision by Chris Obore, the director of communications and public affairs at parliament to withdraw office space from journalists could result into unnecessary and avoidable conflict.

On Monday, Obore wrote to Ahmed Kagoye, the sergeant-at-arms in parliament instructing him to close the UPPA offices with immediate effect. It came after some journalists opposed fresh guidelines requiring all parliamentary reporters to be holders of degrees and three years of experience.

However, Ssemakadde says parliamentary reporters were not given a fair hearing before the decision to withdraw the office space was reached. 

"Obore's actions are therefore inconsistent with the constitutional doctrine of participatory democracy, which parliament is duty-bound to respect, uphold and promote", reads the 19th January letter.

He says the decision by Obore to withdrawal office space from journalists pending the disposal of their court application challenging the contested guidelines are not only a violation of the sub judice rule, but also a violation of the constitutionally guaranteed right to a fair hearing on one hand and rights of freedom of the press an freedom of information on the other.

On Friday, High Court Registrar Her Worship Beatrice Stella Atingu, issued an interim order restraining the clerk to parliament from implementing the fresh guidelines pending the hearing of UPPA application on January 28th.

Ssemakadde wants parliament to withdraw the decision to remove office space from UPPA and apologise in writing.

He also wants parliament to desist from making further statements regarding the matter, which he says amounts to sub judice or contempt of court. He is also demanding Shillings 500 million from parliament for damage, injury and embarrassment caused to UPPA as a result of parliament's misbehavior. 

Ssemakadde has given parliament up to February, 15, 2015 to meet his demands or else he initiates legal proceedings against parliament and Obore for abuse of lawful authority.

 

About the author

Olive Nakatudde
Olive Nakatudde is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Nakatudde has been a URN staff member since 2013.

Nakatudde started out in journalism in 2009 with Dembe FM radio in Kampala. In 2012, Nakatudde joined Voice of Africa as a political reporter. She has been a photographer since her journalism school days at Makerere University.

Nakatudde is interested in good governance and public policy, which she reports on intensively from the Uganda Parliament. She is a keen follower of cultural affairs in Buganda Kingdom and covers the kingdom's Lukiiko (parliament). Nakatudde also reports on education and health.