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Uganda: Parliament and journalists in legal battle over working space

Uganda: Parliament and journalists in legal battle over working space


Uganda’s High Court on Monday is hearing a case involving the country’s journalists and legislature.

The country’s Parliament wants to bar journalists without degrees from covering proceedings of the House.

Secretary General of the Uganda Parliamentary Press Association (UPPA), Moses Kajangu, on January 15 petitioned the court after the house communicated new requirements for journalists who wish to cover business when the 10th Parliament begins sitting in May.

The journalists accuse the Director of Parliament’s Communication and Public Relations, Chris Obore of curtailing the freedom of the press.

Chris Obore on the other hand is baffled by the need for journalists to have an office in Parliament.

“We do not have space for every journalist in Uganda to cover parliament, it would require us buying all the offices around here” he said.

“Do journalists work in the office? In my training, a journalist who is in the office is a lazy journalist, he is useless. Their office in parliament is the press gallery,” Chris Obore told Africanews’ correspondent Raziah Athman in Uganda.

Uganda’s parliament has been accused of challenging the strength of the journalism profession.

“We are ‘professionalising’ slowly but what he has attributed to us that most journalists are unprofessional, that one is false. Journalists who are reporting from parliament where I do report, have gone through elementary training or higher institutions of learning where they teach journalism and other related areas,” said Moses Kajangu, Secretary General of the Uganda Parliamentary Press Association.

Even before the court hearing started, there had been different arguments about whether parliament was built with space for the press or if it was just a case that the Speaker was doing them a favour.

Uganda will hold general elections this week which is expected to set up the tenth parliament for which the Commission is seeking to streamline the caliber of journalists who can cover its proceedings.