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Activists Petition Deputy Chief Justice Over Social Media Tax Case

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Although the parties in the suit agreed on some legal matters in the case during conferencing before the Constitutional Court Registrar, Sarah Langa in November 2018, the matter hasnt been fixed for hearing.
30 Jan 2019 11:04
Copy of the Petition Submitted to the Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny Dollo
At least 186 social media activists have petitioned the Deputy Chief Justice demanding an expeditious hearing of their application challenging government for introducing Over the Top Tax- OTT. The activists dragged Uganda Revenue Authority-URA and Uganda Communications Commission-UCC to the Constitutional Court on July 2nd, 2018, a day after government started effecting the tax. Every internet user in Uganda is required to pay Shillings 200 each day to access social media site.

The lead petitioners are Raymond Mujuni, Daniel Bill Opio, Emmanuel Okiror, Moses Baguma and Silver Kayondo. They are represented by the Cyber Law Initiative Limited. In their application, the activists contend that OTT alias social media tax as it is commonly known contravenes article 41 of the Constitution, which guarantees access to information.

Although the parties in the suit agreed on some legal matters in the case during conferencing before the Constitutional Court Registrar, Sarah Langa in November 2018, the matter hasn't been fixed for hearing. At least a panel of five judges is required to hear the matter, which hasn't been constituted. It is against this background that the applicants have petitioned the Deputy Chief Justice, Alphonse Owiny Dollo to expedite their matter.

Through their lawyer, Eron Kiiza, the petitioners contend that the delayed hearing of the matter, which is of public interest, continues to violate the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens. They say the matter has to be fast tracked so as to enable citizens to determine the certainty of their business since many Ugandans and organizations use social media to earn a living.

A quarterly report issued by Uganda Communications Commission-UCC this week shows that the number internet subscribers has since reduced from 8.04 million in July 2018 to 6.84 million. The report also shows that the amount collected from social media tax reduced from Shillings 5.6 billion to Shillings 3.9 billion in the quarter under review.