THE LAW & SOCIAL MEDIA IN UGANDA. Government Can’t Win any Case Locally or Internationally. My summary Insight.
It has become an electoral practice for Uganda Government specifically NRM to target communication and media channels in all recent General Elections.
Locally efforts to overlap the law aided by the already compromised media institutions like Uganda Communications Commission and the likes has seen illegal bans,disconnections and rude military scenes on media and telecommunications providers to freeze targeted channels,personalities,sites inter aria. A case in point was the 2016 General Elections.
THE LAW. All existing international Human rights instruments and treaties ratified by Uganda protects media and social media freedoms. Locally the 1995 Constitution under Article 29 protects freedom of expression. In a celebrated supreme Court ruling in Obbo & another versus Attorney General, Court defined it as freedom to hold opinions and receive/impart ideas and information without interference.
Court emphasised the right is not confined to correct opinion,sound ideas or truthfulness, but court stated that everyone is free to express his or her views and it matters not if it is perceived by another as incorrect,false,controversial or unpleasant. Court emphasised that people have a right to criticise their leaders and advised leaders to grow hard skins to bear. Even in the face of limitation under article 43, the measure must be demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society.
Under international law, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights under Article 19,read together with article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights,Article 25(e) of the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection and Article 6 (d) of the East African Community Treaty ALL are in tandem with the protection of the right to freedom of expression including the right to impart information through any media option including social media handles. International Courts have ruled for example in Yildirim versus Turkey ECTHR 3111/10 that Blocking access to websites is a violation of the right to freedom of expression. The same right is provided for under article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
If UCC or their proxies attempt to file any international suit aimed at blocking any social media site they will terribly fail. Beyond the aspect of rights exist other legal handles including these below;
Among the legal handles is uncertainty of identity, social media accounts don’t require one to be a legal person to operate it,many are run in anonymous names with no singular proof that actually they are persons or companies with capacity to be sued. Yet the law require capacity for one to sue or be sued.
Social media sites operators have a right and duty to protect identity and secrets of users. Its unlikely that any international operator would disclose identity as in all past international cases, these sites operators have won such cases. Refer to the TVO case.
The powers of UCC are equally vague within Uganda Constitutional terms and it has no locus under international law in the matter it attempts to undertake. There is no way UCC can be harmed by any social media user, and indeed its mandate does not extend beyond boarders under international law and diplomacy.
Ugandans need to stay focused and enjoy their social media freedom uninterrupted .your rights to social media have full international protection under the law.
Targeting People Power or NUP friendly social media operators and supporters if any would be outrightly a politically motivated battle by the regime sadly through a would be independent UCC.
The good news is that National Unity Platform stands to rebuild the country towards the rule of law and Constitutionalism to wit its now a matter of days. On 14th January 2021Vote Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Robert ,just tick the Umblella and reclaim your rights as People.
Those in Kyadondo East ,send me as #Nkunyingi Muwada to represent you in Parliament and l defend your rights legislatively.