News Brief

Eddy Kenzo, Femi & Seun Kuti, Bono, Mr Eazi & More Sign Petition Against Uganda's Censorship Law

The proposed law would require government approval before the release of any songs, videos or films.

Although freedom of expression is protected under the Uganda constitution, it's been coming under increased fire from the government of President Museveni.

We saw the unjust imprisonment, government harassment and physical violence against musician and opposition lawmaker Bobi Wine for speaking out against the president. Wine was arrested twice and tortured while in military custody in August of last year.

Now, Uganda's government is proposing a new law that would require the vetting of new songs, videos and film scripts prior to their release.

Under the new legislation all Ugandan artists and filmmakers would have to 1) register and obtain a license, which could be revoked for any perceived infraction 2) submit song lyrics for songs and film scripts to the government prior to release for approval. Content deemed to contain offensive language or be lewd or would be censured. 3) Musicians will also have to seek government permission to perform outside Uganda.

A number of high-profile artists, authors, managers, and politicians have now banded together to sign a petition against the proposed law.

Read the full letter below, which is signed by Bono, Brian Eno, Dele Sosimi, Femi Kuti, Irene Ntale, Jonathan Lethem, Lemi Ghariokwu, Les Claypool, Margaret Atwood, Mr Eazi, Peter Gabriel, Seun Kuti, Stephen Budd, Stephen Hendel, Yeni Kuti, Wole Soyinka, Amy Tan and more.

Read the full letter:


Artists should not have to seek government approval to make their art.

Uganda's government is proposing regulations that include vetting new songs, videosand film scripts, prior to their release. Musicians, producers, promoters, filmmakers andall other artists will also have to register with the government and obtain a licence thatcan be revoked for a range of violations.

We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned by these proposals, which are likely to beused to stifle criticism of the government.

We, the undersigned, vehemently oppose the draconian legislation currently beingprepared by the Ugandan government that will curtail the freedom of expression in thecreative arts of all musicians, producers and filmmakers in the country.

The planned legislation includes:

- All Ugandan artists and filmmakers required to register and obtain a licence,revokable for any perceived infraction.

- Artists required to submit lyrics for songs and scripts for film and stageperformances to authorities to be vetted.

- Content deemed to contain offensive language, to be lewd or to copy someoneelse's work will be censured.

- Musicians will also have to seek government permission to perform outside Uganda.

Contained in a 14 page draft Bill that bypasses Parliament and will come before Cabinet alone in March to be passed into law, any artist, producer or promoter who is considered to be in breach of its guidelines shall have his/her certificate revoked.

This proposed legislation is in direct contravention of Clause 29 1a b of the UgandanConstitution which states: 29. Protection of freedom of conscience, expression, movement, religion, assembly and association.(1) Every person shall have the right to—(a) Freedom of speech and expression which shall include freedom of the media;(b) Freedom of thought, conscience and belief which shall include academic freedom in institutions of learning;

Furthermore, in accordance with Clause 40 (2)(2) Every person in Uganda has the right to practise his or her profession and to
carry on any lawful occupation, trade or business.As a Member State of the African Union, the Republic of Uganda has ratified the AfricanCharter on Human and Peoples' Rights. Article 9 of the Charter provides:

1. Every individual shall have the right to receive information.

2. Every individual shall have the right to express and disseminate his opinions within the law.

We therefore call upon the Ugandan government to end this grievous and blatant violation of the constitutional rights of Ugandan artists and producers, and to honour its international obligations as laid down in the various international human rights conventions to which Uganda is a signatory and for Uganda to uphold freedom of speech.

ABTEX – Producer, Uganda ADAM CLAYTON – Musician, U2 ALEX SOBEL – Member of Parliament, United Kingdom AMY TAN – Novelist, Screenwriter ANDY HEINTZ – Freelance journalist and author, USAANN ADEKE – Member of Parliament, Uganda ANNU PALAKUNNATHU MATTHEW – Artist, USA and India ASUMAN BASALIRWA – Member of Parliament, Uganda AYELET WALDMAN – Writer BELINDA ATIM - Uganda Sustainable Development Initiative BILL SHIPSEY – Founder, Art for Amnesty BONO – Musician, U2 BRIAN ENO – Artist, Musician and Producer BRUCE ANDERSON – Journalist Editor/Publisher CLAUDIO CAMBON – Artist/Translator, France CRISPIN BLUNT – Member of Parliament and former Chair of Foreign Affairs SelectCommittee, United Kingdom DAN MAGIC – Producer, Uganda DANIEL HANDLER – Writer, Musician aka Lemony Snicket DAVID FLOWER – Director, Sasa Music DAVID HARE – Playwright DAVID SANCHEZ – Saxophonist and Grammy Winner DEBORAH BRUGUERA – Activist, Italy DELE SOSIMI – Musician – The Afrobeat Orchestra DOCTOR HILDERMAN – Artist, Uganda DR VINCENT MAGOMBE – Journalist and Broadcaster DR PAUL WILLIAMS – Member of Parliament, United Kingdom EDDIE HATITYE – Director, Music In Africa EDDY KENZO – Artist, Uganda EDWARD SIMON – Musician and Composer, Venezuela ERIAS LUKWAGO – Lord Mayor of Kampala Uganda ELYSE PIGNOLET – Visual Artist, USA ERIC HARLAND - Musician FEMI ANIKULAPO KUTI – Musician, Nigeria FEMI FALANA – Human Rights Lawyer, Nigeria FRANCIS ZAAKE – Member of Parliament, Uganda FRANK RYNNE – Senior Lecturer British Studies, UCP, France GARY LUCAS – Musician GERALD KARUHANGA – Member of Parliament, Uganda GINNY SUSS – Manager, Producer HELEN EPSTEIN – Professor of Journalism Bard College HENRY LOUIS GATES – Director of the Hutchins Center at Harvard University HUGH CORNWELL – Musician IAIN NEWTON – Marketing Consultant IRENE NAMATOVU – Artist, Uganda IRENE NTALE – Artist, Uganda JANE CORNWELL – Journalist JEFFREY KOENIG – Partner, Serling Rooks Hunter McKoy Worob & Averill LLP JESSE RIBOT – American University School of International Service JIM GOLDBERG – Photographer, Professor Emeritus at California College of the Arts JODIE GINSBERG – CEO, Index on Censorship JOEL SSENYONYI – Journalist, Uganda JON FAWCETT - Cultural Events Producer JON SACK - Artist JOHN AJAH – CEO, Spinlet JOHN CARRUTHERS – Music Executive JOHN GROGAN – Member of Parliament, United Kingdom JONATHAN LETHEM – Novelist JONATHAN MOSCONE – Theater Director JONATHAN PATTINSON – Co-Founder Reluctantly Brave JOHNNY BORRELL – Singer, Razorlight JOJO MEYER - Musician KADIALY KOUYATE – Musician, Senegal KALUNDI SERUMAGA – Former Director - Uganda National Cultural Centre/National Theatre KASIANO WADRI – Member of Parliament, Uganda KEITH RICHARDS OBE - Writer KEMIYONDO COUTINHO – Filmmaker, Uganda KENNETH OLUMUYIWA THARP CBE – Director The Africa Centre KING SAHA – Artist, UgandaKWEKU MANDELA – Filmmaker LAUREN ROTH DE WOLF – Music Manager Orchestra of Syrian Musicians LEMI GHARIOKWU – Visual Artist, Nigeria LEO ABRAHAMS – Producer, Musician, Composer LES CLAYPOOL – Musician, Primus LINDA HANN – MD Linda Hann Consulting Group LUCIE MASSEY – Creative Producer LUCY DURAN – Professor of Music at SOAS University of London LYNDALL STEIN – Activist/Campaigner, United Kingdom MARC RIBOT – Musician MARCUS DRAVS – Producer MAREK FUCHS – MD Sauti Sol Entertainment, Kenya MARGARET ATWOOD – Author MARK LEVINE – Professor of History UC Irvine – Grammy winning artist MARY GLINDON – Member of Parliament, United Kingdom MATT PENMAN – Musician, New Zealand MARTIN GOLDSCHMIDT – Chairman, Cooking Vinyl Group
MEDARD SSEGONA – Member of Parliament, UgandaMICHAEL CHABON – Writer MICHAEL LEUFFEN – NTS Host, Carhartt WIP Music Rep MICHAEL UWEDEMEDIMO – Director, CMAP and Research Fellow King's College London MILTON ALLIMADI – Publisher, The Black Star News MORGAN MARGOLIS – President, Knitting Factory Entertainment, USAMOUSTAPHA DIOP – Musician, Senegal MusikBi CEO MR EAZI – Musician, Producer, Nigeria MUWANGA KIVUMBI – Member of Parliament, Uganda NAOMI WEBB – Executive Director, Good Chance Theatre, United Kingdom NICK GOLD – Owner, World Circuit Records NUBIAN LI – Artist, Uganda OHAL GRIETZER – Composer OBED CALVAIRE – Musician OMOYELE SOWORE – Founder Sahara Reporters and Nigerian Presidential Candidate PATRICK GRADY – Member of Parliament, United Kingdom PAUL MWIRU – Member of Parliament, Uganda PETER GABRIEL – Musician RACHEL SPENCE – Arts Writer and Poet, United Kingdom RASHEED ARAEEN – Artist, United Kingdom RAYMOND MUJUNI – Journalist, Uganda RHETT MILLER – Musician, Writer RILIWAN SALAM – Artist Manager ROBERT MAILER ANDERSON – Writer and Producer ROBIN DENSELOW – Journalist, United Kingdom ROBIN EUBANKS – Trombonist, Composer, Educator ROBIN RIMBAUD – Musician RUTH DANIEL – CEO, In Place of War SAMIRA BIN SHARIFU – DJ SANDOW BIRK – Visual Artist, USASANDRA IZSADORE – Author, Artist, Activist, USASEAN JONES – Musician, Composer, Bandleader, Educator SEUN ANIKULAPO KUTI – Musician, Composer SHAHIDUL ALAM – Photojournalist and Activist, Bangladesh SIMON WOLF – Senior Associate, Amsterdam & Partners LLP SRIRAK PLIPAT – Executive Director, Freemuse STEPHEN BUDD – Africa Express SEBASTIAN ROCHFORD – Musician, Pola Bear SOFIA KARIM – Architect and Artist STEPHEN HENDEL – Kalakuta Sunrise LLC STEVE JONES – Musician and Producer SUZANNE NOSSEL – CEO, PEN America TANIA BRUGUERA – Artist and Activist, Cuba TOM CAIRNES – Co-Founder Freetown Music Festival WOLE SOYINKA – Nobel Laureate, Nigeria YENI ANIKULAPO KUTI – Co-Executor of the Fela Anikulapo Kuti Estate ZENA WHITE – MD, Knitting Factory and Partisan Records

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