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Parliament Reporters Reject New Restrictive House Rules

Journalists covering parliament have rejected the new rules of conduct that were issued by the Public Relations office saying that they were not consulted.
Journalists covering parliament have rejected the new rules of conduct that were issued by the Public Relations office saying that they were not consulted.

 

The leadership of the Uganda parliamentary press association met with the Public Relations manager Hellen Kawesa and expressed their dissatisfaction with the new rules and the fear that such rules will greatly hinder their work.

 

Kawesa who attended the meeting with two other officials from her office accepted to review the rules in conjunction with the leadership of the Uganda Parliamentary Press Association (UPPA). The two sides agreed that the rules shouldn’t be effected until after further consultations.

 

The secretary general of UPPA Kajangu Moses said that their major concern was on press coverage of committees where journalists are required to seek permission from committee chairman to take pictures or to record its proceedings and journalists being denied right to take their working gargets to the gallery.

 

According to the new rules, journalists are not allowed to conduct interviews at the entrance of elevators and to insist on interviewing unwilling MPs. They are also barred from going to MPs’ offices unless invited, not allowed to access several places of parliament including the parliamentary library and have to go through the public relations office to interview the speaker, deputy speaker and the clerk of parliament.

 

Observers have seen this as an outright suppression of the media and say that such measures are unrealistic and uncalled for. Kyadondo East MP Ibrahim Semujju Nganda described the rules as unfortunate. He said that parliament is answerable to the public so no one at parliament should interfere with the public’s right to know.

 

He urged journalists to fight against such suppression if they are to fulfil their obligation of informing the public saying that with such restrictions they won’t be able 2 accomplish much.

 

Busiro East MP Medard Lubega Sseggona also expressed disappointment at the management of parliament. He said he never thought parliament would want to stifle the press because even with the leadership of a strong NRM cadre, the press had freedom.

 

Journalists had never questioned their right and freedom to carry out their duties at parliament until two Observer Media Limited reporters Suleiman Kakaire and David Tash Lumu were indefinitely suspended from covering parliament.

 

The instruction to suspend them allegedly came from the speaker saying that they wrote inaccuracies and falsehoods when they reported the speaker’s refusal to recall parliament. Kakaire was yesterday blocked by security from accessing parliament where he had an appointment with Bunya East MP Vincent Bagiire.

 

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga declined to recall the house from recess claiming that some of the members who signed the petition wanted to withdraw their signatures while others claimed their signatures were forged.

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