Human Rights Commission Rejects Communications Amendment Bill
The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) has rejected amendments to the Uganda Communications Act.
The amendments to the Act were tabled by former Attorney General, Fred Ruhindi before the 9th Parliament wound up. It seeks to allow government to draft regulations regarding the sector without getting approval from Parliament as is the current case.
The Bill seeks to amend section 93(1) of the Uganda Communications Act, 2013 to remove the requirement for parliamentary approval of regulations made by the Minister under the Act.
The Act grants the Minister powers to make regulations relating to among others: fees payable upon the grant or renewal of a license; the classification or categories of licenses; the use of any communications station, apparatus or license; and anti-competitive practices.
In addition, the Minister has powers to make regulations on the retention of records relating to programmes or broadcasts; the obligations of proprietors, producers or broadcaster in respect of public broadcasts; and the regulation of community broadcasting.
However, Medi Kaggwa, the chairperson of Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) said that the move by government to remove parliamentary approval is meant to usurp the powers of Parliament.
Kaggwa, in his submission, noted that Parliament is a key stakeholder in scrutinizing regulations that will affect different stakeholders and must ensure that they abide to human rights standards, including allowing citizens to express themselves freely and access information without any constraints.