Government sued over failure to block sale, importation of junk food

Friday December 13 2019



Government has been sued for its alleged failure to restrict the sale and importation of junk foods.
The Centre for Food and Adequate Rights (CEFROHT), a human rights organization, through their lawyers of Dalumba advocates claim that failure by government to monitor the sale and importation of junk food consumed by children, has seen the rise in non-communicable diseases amongst minors.

The organization contends that the government is under a legal mandate to uphold, protect and fulfil children’s right to safety, health, adequate food and wellbeing, a provision that has been faulted.
The Attorney General and Uganda Communications Commission have been listed as the respondents in the case filed at the High Court in Kampala.

Uganda is a member of the World Health Organization and passed a resolution to act on the main risk factors for Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
CEFROHT avers that in Uganda, NCD kill up to 100,000 people annually, about 35 percent of the total annual deaths.
The applicant wants court to direct government to restrict marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children as a way of preventing NCDs and shall ask court to enforce the children’s rights to health, safety and adequate food.

“Unhealthy food marketing affects children’s preferences, purchase requests, diets and consumption patterns, yet in Uganda the marketing is extensive and other forms of marking of food to children are widespread where a significant amount of this marketing is for foods with a high content of fat, sugar or salt,” the organisation contends.

CEFROHT states that marketing, advertising and broadcast of unhealthy foods and beverages in Uganda by the media is done before and after the watershed time lines, exposing children to unhealthy diets compromising their safety, right to health and the right to adequate food.
The organization also accuses the government off failing to protect children from the adverse impact of marketing of unhealthy diets on children’s health in accordance with the rights of children as acknowledged by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the children.

“The actions and omissions of the respondents amount to a violation of the fundamental human rights of children to safety, health, adequate food and wellbeing as enshrined in the Constitution of Uganda, 1995 and other laws,” the organisation contends.
The organisation is seeking an order against UCC to ban all unhealthy food advertisements and programme sponsorship or broadcast before and after the watershed in all media platforms including online media in Uganda.
They also want an order banning all the in-school advertisement and promotion of unhealthy foods to children in Uganda.