Uganda: UJU decries new move to control online data communication
The Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) is to introduce new restrictions on all online data communications it announced on 7 September.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the Uganda Journalists Union (UJU), in condemning this direct assault on freedom of expression, media freedom and access to information.
According to a public notice issued by the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) on 7 September, "all persons currently offering or planning to commence the provision of online data communication and broadcasting services, including but not limited to blogs, online television, online radio, online newspapers, audio over IP (AOIP) Internet protocol TV (IPTV) video on demand (VOD) digital audio radios and televisions, internet web radio and internet web television (should) obtain authorisation from UCC before providing such services to the public" before the deadline date of 5 October".
The UJU has condemned the UCC for trying to suppress freedom of expression and press freedom. "The UCC is preparing to gag the independent media from critical reporting on President Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Movement (NRM) government ahead of 2021 General Elections," said UJU President Ms Lucy Anyango Ekadu.
The union warned that the UCC announcement violates article 29 of the 1995 Ugandan Constitution which protects freedom of expression, and article 41 which guarantees access to information by all Ugandans. "The UCC is trying to suppress independent media, curtail freedom of expression and in the long run, muzzle media freedom altogether. Ugandan journalists must join forces to resist vehemently the draconian requirement imposed on the media," Ekadu said.
UJU has committed to support and back stakeholders who have dragged the UCC to court over the draconian directive.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said that the decision is a flagrant violation of citizens' rights to freedom of expression and access to information. "Asking online media houses who post content online and other service providers to seek an authorization from the Commission before providing such services is a deliberate attempt to suppress media freedom and freedom of expression. This is another attempt to intimidate journalists and force them into self-censorship which cannot be accepted in a democratic society."
The IFJ and UJU have jointly called on the Ugandan Government to abandon the policy.