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Parliamentary Journalists Go to Court Over Fresh Guidelines :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Parliamentary Journalists Go to Court Over Fresh Guidelines

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According to Rwakafuzi, parliament is a public place, where everyone has a right to comment on what transpires there, be it a journalist or rumormonger.
Centre for Legal Aid Lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde

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The Uganda Parliamentary Press Association-UPPA has decided to challenge a decision by parliament to eject journalists without degrees from the house. On Tuesday, parliament issued fresh guidelines requiring journalists accredited to the house to hold a Bachelor\'s Degree in Journalism and three years of professional practice.

In the letter to Editors, Okello Obabaru, the Deputy Clerk to Parliament, notes that the new guidelines will facilitate complete, fair, accurate and balanced coverage of parliamentary committees and plenary sessions. 

The letter asks editors to submit names of reporters accompanied by relevant supporting documents for accreditation to Chris Obore, the Director Communication and Public Affairs not later than 25th January 2016.

The Uganda Parliamentary Press Association has instructed its lawyer, Isaac Ssemakadde from the Center for Legal Aid to seek an interim order to stay the implementation of the letter. Ssemakadde told URN that the letter is unfortunate, adding that it is arbitrary and unconstitutional. 

He cited an ongoing case filed by Sulaiman Kakaire, a journalist with The Observer challenging the powers of the Parliamentary Commission to fix the guidelines for news editors to follow when selecting journalists to deploy at parliament.

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Ssemakadde further notes that the letter violates press freedom and in particular editorial freedom. He says the role of the State is to guarantee such freedoms rather than curtailing them without justification.

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Human Rights Lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuzi says the move by parliament has no legal basis. According to Rwakafuzi, parliament is a public place, where everyone has a right to comment on what transpires there, be it a journalist or rumormonger.  

He says media houses have their own editorial policies and have a right to send a person of their wish to parliament. Agnes Nandutu, the UPPA president says they will do everything possible to challenge the new guidelines.

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