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EU asks govt to stop harsh laws on film production

The European Union (EU) Mission in Kampala has warned government against policies and regulations which will undermine or hinder production of local films, documentaries and commercial photography.

The call was made yesterday at the launch of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) project to create tax incentive measures for promotion of local content development in the film industry and professional film associations in Uganda.

Ms Anna Merrifield, the EU deputy head of delegation in Uganda, said under the EU policy, “New European Consensus for Development,” the EU supports culture as an enabler for sustainable development because it is a source for job creation and economic growth.  “The cultural sector, the film industry in particular, needs appropriate regulatory frameworks to thrive. In this context, we have taken note of the recent discussions about regulation of the creative industry here in Uganda,” she said.

She explained that the EU supports regulations and laws but they should not stray into the realm of censoring, stifling creativity and preventing artistes from making a living. Instead, they should be human rights compliant and safeguard freedom of expression so that Ugandans can enjoy the freedom to unleash creativity that will expand the Ugandan film industry and cinema market.

She did not specify any law or incidents that undermine local film production. However, several local artistes, especially who have produced films and videos critical of the State and President Museveni have been arrested and prosecuted or their works have been banned from the media.

Ms Rosie Agoi, the secretary general of Uganda National Commission for Unesco, said : “We need to ensure we have Ugandan films at the theatre, Ugandan music on the radio, Ugandan books in the library, Ugandan art in museums and we need to ensure we have a diversity of cultural goods from other countries.”

Labour Gender and Social Development minister Frank Tuwmebaze, who was represented by the permanent secretary, Mr James Ebitu, observed that during his latest national address on the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Museveni highlighted that one of the ways to respond to the challenge posed by the pandemic was to become innovative and self-reliant.

“In order to strengthen the film industry, the Gender ministry has worked with the National Information Technology Authority to develop a national digital platform for the film sector,” he said.


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