After 6 years, Court dustbin offensive communication law

After a battle of six years, yesterday the constitutional court in Uganda quashed the most sought section in the computer misuse act that has been used to prosecute President Museveni mainly political critics, Uganda journalists, and writers.

The Computer Misuse Act, one of the sections proscribes the use of electronic communication to “disturb the peace, quiet or right of privacy of any person with no purpose of legitimate communication”.

Punishments for offenders can range from steep cash penalties to jail sentences of several years.

In a ruling on a petition filed by a rights activist led by Andrew Karamagi Robert Shaka seeking the quashing of that section of the law, the Constitutional Court agreed, saying it violated the constitution.

Constitutional Court Judge Kenneth Kakuru, who wrote the lead judgment on behalf of a panel of five judges, said that section of the law “is unjustifiable as it curtails the freedom of speech in a free and democratic society”

He declared it “null and void” and banned its enforcement.

Ofwono Opondo was unavailable for a comment on the government response.

Rights activists have long complained about Uganda’s various communications laws enacted by the government of President Yoweri Museveni.

Critics say the laws are indiscriminately broad, disguised censorship and that they have mostly been used to punish opponents of Museveni, who has ruled Uganda since 1986.

The law has seen many government critics charged under the law and some have been convicted, Our founder at Whisper Eye Kaweesa Hope Mulangira was charged with offensive communication in 2018, this followed Stella Nyanzi her criticism attacks on Museveni, who spent more than a year in jail after she was convicted under the same law, Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, who was also prosecuted under the same law and fled to Germany.

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