Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) in a letter to Ruhakana Rugunda, Prime Minister of Uganda expressed concern over a move resorting to the offence of contempt of parliament and invoking parliamentary privilege in Uganda as weapons or threats to discourage positive constructive criticism from the media.
PPF Secretary General Owais Aslam Ali in his letter urged the government of Uganda to respect the independence of media that is responsive to the people and is serving as their watchdog in reporting the actions of parliaments and governments.
According to Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda), act to resort to the regressive legal inheritance of the offence of contempt of parliament and parliamentary privileges would discourage positive constructive criticism from the media.
In the past, this privilege stemmed from the concerns of members of the House of Commons to protect them from the state. Parliamentary privilege and contempt of parliament are limited to protecting the legislative function expressly granted by the Constitution and therefore the present conduct of parliament is a clear abuse of this power. It’s worth noting that Britain where this offence was inherited from last used this said law against the press in 1948 as it poses grave challenges to freedom of expression and democracy.
Every democratic society needs the independence of the media from the state control, or government interference. The media plays vital role in sharing parliamentary activities to citizens, which is mandatory to empower the public. The media also provides the channel through which public opinions and problems are communicated to the parliament members for social justice and development.