By Ronaldo Kalangi
Kampala, Uganda: The Uganda Law Society (ULS) have filed a petition with the Court of Appeal seeking to have the Computer Misuse Act of 2011 revoked and scrapped off.
Lawyers led by ULS President Peter Kinobe are seeking court’s interpretation to have sections 24 and 25 of the Computer Misuse Act declared inappropriate, because security agencies have been using them to curtail the freedom of expression and speech to some victims who are always deemed as opposition politicians. The lawyers highlighted the several cases like that of Dr Stella Nyanzi, who is currently in Luzira, over charges of offensive communication. She is accused of allegedly degrading late President Museveni’s Mother in a poem which was circulated all over social media. The other victim is musician Viboyo and many people who been charged with cases under the Computer Misuse Act. They are accused of using their gadgets with intentions to harm and injure the reputation ,disturbing peace of prominent people like President, ministers and businessmen.
The wise counsels want the constitutional court to have articles like 43(2) revoked immediately because freedom of speech can’t be considered as harassment and fake. ”This act was passed with intentions to curtail some people from expressing themselves .We have petitioned court, in order to have some of the sections scrapped off so that it can benefit and serve all Ugandan s,’ Kinobe said. Ever since the law was passed a section of police detectives sitting at Kibuli based Criminal Investigations Directorate have been arresting people and detaining them on charges of cyber harassment and computer misuse. Their gadgets like phones, computers, IPads have occasionally been confiscated on grounds that they would be imaged and used as evidence against the suspects. Lawyers argued that confiscating such gadgets is the denial of someone’s right to access his own private property.
They gave an example of YMCA student Brian Isiko, who almost failed his course because he was in Luzira prison after court sentenced him to jail because of cyber harassment and computer misuse by sending endless love messages to Hon. Sylivia Rwabwogo. The case has since been dropped by court. Civil society and ULS are still waiting for the date which court will set to have their matter heard.