Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is dismayed by Media Council’s directive to suspend a play „the State of the Nation ku Ggirikiti”. The act is a serious threat to freedom of expression and intended to silence critical voices in the Uganda.
Article 29 (1) (a) of the Constitution guarantees every Ugandan the right to freedom of speech and expression. They are free to express themselves through songs, writings, plays or any other form they choose provided it does not infringe on other people‟s freedom.
On 29th/October/2012, the secretary of the Media Council, Pius Mwinganisa instructed the directors of the play Bakayimbira Dramactors and Afri-Talent theatre groups to immediately stop staging a play until the Council has done a “review”.
The Media Council is a statutory body established by the Press and Journalists Act, 1995 headed by someone appointed by a minister of Information and National guidance whose main responsibility is to ensure freedom of the press and regulate mass media in Uganda.
The Council in its communication sited the Press and Journalist Act which empowers it “to refuse a film, videotape, or apparatus to be shown, exhibited or acted for public consumption”.
John Ssegawa one of the directors of the groups that authored the play told HRNJ-Uganda that the group upon receiving the letter submitted the script to the council on October 29th / 2012 but no response. “It is only 40 pages but how come they have decided to keep quiet? The theme of the play is reconciliation. Acting is our job, so we will go ahead with the staging the play over the week-end”