By Spy Uganda
Alternative Digitalk Ltd and 12 other activists have Monday morning filed a Constitutional Petition challenging the recently signed Computer Misuse Amendment Act 2022 which they say is meant to shield violation of human rights in Uganda.
President Yoweri Museveni last week signed into law the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill, 2022, which was passed by parliament recently. Sponsored by a private member, the Kampala Central MP Muhammad Nsereko, the law makes it a crime to write, send or share hateful, unsolicited, misleading, or malicious information online.
Lawyer for the petitioners Arinitwe Peter, the Managing Director of Arinitwe Peter & Co.Advocates, said the law is unconstitutional and violates fundamental human rights like freedom of speech and expression.
”The law is vague and ambiguous, if you say unsolicited information what do you mean. The phrase unsolicited is vague because you can’t define a certainty,” said Counsel Arinitwe adding;
”Criminalization in this amendment of writing, sharing, transmitting, taking video clips and photos is an attack on freedom of expression and media freedom. I would expect all journalists to challenge this law because it directly targets them.”
The Alternative Uganda Coordinator and Executive Director Alternative DigiTalk, Tumuhimbise Norman said they will fight the law which he said intends to shield law breakers citing corrupt officials, and politicians.
”You can’t close my mouth from speaking against injustice, from exposing corruption agents in government and politicians doing evil things day and night. We’re ready to fight this law, we’re ready to break this law and we’re ready to mobilize masses to get on streets and fight this law,” vowed Norman.
The Computer Misuse Act 2022 states that a person found guilty of recording another person’s voice or video without their person and unauthorized access to personal information will be fined 10 million Shillings or imprisoned for a term not exceeding 10 years or both.
DigiTalk’s petition comes after last month, the Human Rights Network for Journalists-HRNJ, which advocates for media rights, wrote to the President, saying that the amendment has several clauses that raise more questions than provide answers. They cited clause 2(a), which seeks to make unauthorized access to information an offense.
HRNJ noted that this particular clause fails to define, which information about someone can be shared without one risking legal peril and that it also infringes on the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression and of the media.
“The limitations of this protection have been laid down by the Supreme Court of Uganda in the case of Charles Onyango Obbo V Attorney General and clearly this Bill seeks to go way and beyond that,” HRNJ told President.
They also argued that other clauses such as the one that deals with the privacy of children also disregard the fact that some of the gruesome acts against them are committed by their parents. “Therefore, if one must seek the consent of their parents to film, let alone circulate such a video, this will perpetuate the abuse of children’s rights,” HRNJ stated.