UCC bows to pressure, extends SIM cards registration deadline

Kampala, 01st/March/2013; Uganda Communications Communication has extended the SIM card registration deadline for 90 days after Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda and Legal Brains Trust (LBT) dragged it to court seeking an injunction not to switch off unregistered subscribers on 1st March 2013. The matter had come up for final disposal before the Deputy Chief Registrar of the High Court Civil Division, His Worship John Eudes Keitirima on Friday 1st March.

HRNJ-Uganda and LBT agreed with UCC and the Attorney General of Uganda to withdraw the application for a court injunction on the switch off deadline which was before His Worship John Eudes Keitirima of the High Court. UCC’s head of communications, Fred Otunnu through his lawyer, Joseph Mastiko told Court that they had extended the SIM card registration deadline by 90 (ninety) days to 29th May, 2013 explaining that extension would not affect the hearing of the main suit due on the 20thMay, 2013 in which HRNJ-Uganda and LBT claim that the registration process is marred with irregularities, illegalities and anomalies which must be rectified.

HRNJ-Uganda and LBT through their lawyers Denis Sembuya, Isaac Kimaze Ssemakadde and Mugabi Siras Kahima have also filed another application for a temporary injunction stopping UCC from setting any other arbitrary deadline until the anomalies are resolved. The application will be heard on 11 March 2013. Otunu told court that the extension of the deadline will not also affect the application for a temporary injunction.

“This is a major victory and stride made in protecting the rights of Ugandans whose freedom to communicate was at stake if UCC had deactivated their SIM cards. We implore UCC to overhaul and rectify the anomalies in the process to prevent the looming economic and social implications,” said HRNJ-Uganda’s National Coordinator Wokulira Ssebaggala,

According to UCC, Uganda currently has 16 million phone users and, only 70 per cent of them have reportedly registered their SIM cards.

Telecommunication companies including MTN, Warid, Uganda Telecom, Airtel and Orange on February 26th, 2013 told the Ugandan Parliament’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) Committee that out of 16 million active subscribers, only 60 per cent had so far registered their SIM cards. They also revealed to the committee that they have encountered enormous challenges as the exercise has been marred by inconsistencies, confusion and uncertainties. They unanimously asked for an extension.

HRNJ-UG Admin

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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