The Uganda Media Council has overuled attempts by authorities to reprimand the journalist who leaked the rather embarassing video recording of the country’s Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja which has since went viral.
The Media Council on Sunday ruled that the video “as it is” or it’s publication did not offend the code of professional ethics, and the probable culprit in the ongoing investigation intended to punish the person behind the leaked video, is innocent.
The ruling follows social media outcry and widespread concern over a video recording from PM Nabbanja’s interview with UBC, allegedly leaked by a one Ivan Kahwa. The short video recording shows the Rt Hon Prime Minister starting an interview and pausing midway and talking in vernacular to the camera. Immediately after, she reclines in her seat which falls back and makes her to exclaim.
The video’s publication provoked anger from the PM who has since prompted the management of UBC to issue an apology and further stating that the national broadcaster will ensure “appropriate action is preffered against the probable culprits.” Public opinion is also divided over the matter with one section condemning the video and citing journalism ethics with others questioning what wrong has been committed by the publication.
Now, quotting the Press and Journalism Act 2015 Cap 105 which prescribes the professional code of journalism ethics that guide media practice in Uganda, the Media Council says it did not find any breach of the code by the impugned video.
“We have perused the length of the code vis-aviz the video and find no breach of the code” Paul Ekochu the Chairman of Uganda Media Council said in a letter dated 23 January 2022.
Mr Ekochu also underscored the existence of media laws in Uganda which protect freedom of expression and media freedom and “importantly to protect the public interests such as media pluralism and diversity.”
The Press and Journalists Act provides the code of professional ethics for journalism in Uganda. This code provides an itinerary of rules which if breached constitute unethical and or unprofessional behaviour in journalism. The Uganda Media Council derives its mandate from the Act.
However, Uganda Media Council says if it turns out that the said video was doctored, there is breach of law and the culprits are liable for reprimand.
“We hasten to add that this opinion is based on the facts we are so far apprised of. However, should it transpire that the video is forged or a malicious misrepresentation of what actually happened at the interview then whosever made it and published it would have breached the professional code of ethics and is at fault.”
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that UBC management acting on directives from the Prime Minister suspended its journalist Ivan Kahwa over the matter.
In a statement issued on 21 January 2022, the management of UBC noted it had “taken the matter seriously” and had reached out to Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to help in the investigations to acertain the exact source of the “rather regrattable” video.
It has since been established that the interview with Rt Hon Nabbanja involved journalists from another media house alongside UBC which further complicates the efforts to ascertain the actual person who leaked the video.