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|Title: ||Reflections on freedom of expression in Uganda’s fledgling democracy: sedition, “pornography” and hate speech|
|Authors: ||Ojambo, Henry Odimbe|
|Keywords: ||Freedom of expression|
Freedom of speech
|Issue Date: ||Feb-2008 |
|Publisher: ||Human Rights & Peace Centre, Makerere University|
|Series/Report no.: ||HURIPEC Working Paper|
|Abstract: ||Since the ascendancy of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) regime to power, Uganda has consistently been viewed and perceived by the international community as a source of hope for development and democratization in Africa. But Uganda can hardly boast of a strong economy, let alone strong democratic institutions. The country remains among the poorest on the continent with significant democratization challenges. In other words, one need not look at Uganda’s current situation to agree with those who see so much hope in the country. Rather, Uganda’s newly acquired international reputation is the consequence of her history, a history which has been characterized by anarchy, poverty and authoritarianism. Under the stewardship of President Yoweri Museveni, who has been president since 1986, the NRM government has registered notable success in restoring peace, promoting constitutionalism and democratization, initiating economic programs aimed at poverty alleviation, and promoting the rule of law, to mention but a few of its varied achievements. As part of its programs for the rejuvenation of the economy and democratic governance, the NRM regime has been at the forefront of promoting economic liberalization programs such as privatization and attraction of foreign investment, as well as enactment of new laws and the reformation of old ones.
It is within this context that the country has experienced the unprecedented proliferation of media houses -- both electronic and print -- over the past two decades. This development raises many issues relating to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression, a right that forms an integral and critical component of democratization and good governance. Against the above background, this paper examines the extent to which the right to freedom of expression is actually enjoyed in Uganda and whether the legal regime pertaining to that right is adequately developed in order to ensure its sustainability. While different accounts could be offered for the proliferation of media houses under the NRM regime, the paper concludes that freedom of expression lacks a sound legal foundation and is thus extremely vulnerable.
In particular, Uganda’s legal regime respecting freedom of expression is characterized by; (a) archaic and outdated restrictions (such as sedition) which only serve to undermine the enjoyment of the rights and in effect lead to a retardation of the democratization process and (b) weak and inappropriate regulatory mechanisms such as the Media Council. It is recommended that there is an urgent need to revisit the legal regime governing media freedom and among other things include provisions to address emerging challenges like racial intolerance.|
|Description: ||Copyright © Human Rights & Peace Centre, 2008. All rights reserved.|
|Appears in Collections:||Research Articles (Law)|
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