Born-again Church leaders from various parts of Uganda have joined forces and petitioned the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), complaining about rampant arrests and prosecution of their members over noise pollution.
The pastors cited several ‘irregularities’ relating to NEMA operations, noting that the body’s definition of noise pollution ‘threatens’ the Christian faith.
During a meeting chaired by the Executive Director of NEMA, Dr Barirega Akankwasah and members of the Born Again Christian Faith, led by the president of the National Pastors Platform of Uganda, Bishop David Kiganda, deliberated on mechanisms to strengthen the relationship between NEMA and the Church leadership and agreed as follows:
- No arrest shall be made for noise pollution unless an improvement notice has been first issued in writing by either NEMA, Urban Authority or Local Government.
- Churches will designate focal persons for coordinating environment compliance issues including noise management.
- The government will through NEMA, undertake scientific review of the standards for noise to establish whether the standards we have today are appropriate
- Arrests should be preceded with criminal summons and no arrests should be effected during a church service
- NEMA will work with the Church leadership to sensitize the churches and the general public about noise standards
- Noise meter readings should be transparently recorded and where possible countersigned by the complainants and the accused person.
The two parties resolved to strengthen the working relationship including regular engagements to effectively prevent noise pollution and promote best environmental practices through the Church.