Parliament Passes Communications Amendment Bill

Parliament has Thursday passed the Uganda Communications Amendment Bill, price 2016 which among others gives powers to the Minister of Information and ICT to pass regulations governing the communication industry in the country.

The Bill seeks to amend Section 93(1) with justifications that Parliament enacted two conflicting provisions, Section 93(1) that requires parliamentary approval of the regulations made and Section 93(3) that obliges the Minister to lay the regulations before Parliament.

Some members earlier argued that the amendment gives the Minister more powers to take any actions against the media and the practitioners which he/she might abuse.

Masaka Municipality MP, Mathias Mpuuga argued that despite the current law mandating that the Minister should set up a tribunal to which members of the public can seek redress in case the Minister misuses his power; to date it has not been set up.

“While the Minister has sought these wide ranging powers, we would like to get commitment from the Minister; when we will have the tribunal in place so as to provide a remedy for those in the media industry to see justice where the Ministers are acting in impunity and abusing their powers,” Mpuuga said.

In her response, the State Information Minister, Aidah Nantaba who presented the Bill before the House noted that, “The Executive Director, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) wrote to the Judicial Service Commission to have the Tribunal constituted and established but they have sighted cases of lack of funds adding that as long as the funds are available, they will be able to constitute one.”

The Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah asked whether the funds were provided for in the sector budget and ordered the Minister to ensure that funds are allocated within the current financial year budget.

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