Law Reform Commission Rejects Anti-Pornography Bill

The Uganda Law Reform Commission has rejected the Anti-Pornography Bill saying it is irrelevant. Last week, Simon Lokodo, the minister of Ethics and Integrity tabled the Anti-Pornography Bill arguing that it is needed to protect women and children against exploitation and curb the increasing cases of immorality.

The Anti-Pornography Bill legislates against the distribution, public exhibition, production and possession of obscene materials which is already catered for under section 166 of the Penal Code.

It also prohibits importation, exportation of obscene material, business sales, advertisement, public indecent shows and performances. However, the Uganda Law Reform Commission has   a different opinion.

According to the commission there is need to review the existing laws before coming up with another bill. Patrick Nyakaana, the Commissioner Law Reform proposes that Lokodo first carries out consultations on the anti-pornography Bill and ensure it is done in Karamoja.

Nyakaana says when they critically observe the provisions of section 166 of the Penal code it almost captures everything provided for in the proposed Bill.

He says the only difference is in the definition of pornography, adding that the definition contained in the bill is vague and ambiguous. It defines pornography as erotic behavior intended to cause sexual incitement. It also talks about cultural practices and dancing which Nyakaana says may put the country in a tight spot, because many cultural dances could end up being listed as pornography.

The Bill also tackles exposing of body parts such as the breasts, thighs and buttocks. However, Nyakaana wonders whether the law will be exempt to people in Karamoja where the Minister comes from.

The Bill also legislates on child pornography which is already covered in the Prevention of trafficking in persons Act 2009 and the computer misuse Act. Clause 7 of the Bill provides for the Pornography committee which shall ensure that the perpetrators of pornography are apprehended and prosecuted which the law reform commission argues that is already being done by police and the director of public prosecution. Clause 11(1, f) of the Bill presumes an establishment is likely to cause the public to access pornography.

The Uganda Law Reform commission says it contravenes the provisions of Article 28 (3, a) of the constitution which provides for the presumption of innocence. MPs on the legal and presidential affairs committee are considering coming up with a resolution to stop the tabling of bills that contradict the constitution.

Grace Namara, the Woman MP Lyantonde wants government especially Cabinet to respect the mandate of the Law Reform Commission to do its work.

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