Monday, February 6, 2023

Court dismisses frivolous case against journalists

Kampala, 17th/January/2023; Court at Makindye dismissed a case against two Digitalk Online TV staff Norman Tumuhimbise (Executive Director) and Faridah Bikobere –a TV host on 16th January 2023. The duo was facing charges of cyberstalking and offensive Communication provided for under Sections 26 and 25 of the Computer Misuse Act as amended respectively.

Court Presided over by Grade 1 Magistrate Tukundane Lorna Patience dismissed the case after the State failed to adduce evidence against the duo for close to ten months. This was after Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda lawyer Geoffrey Turyamusiima prayed to Court to have the matter dismissed for want of prosecution.

The dismissal comes at a time when Section 25 of the Computer Misuse Act was recently annulled unanimously by the five Justices of Constitutional Court in Andrew Karamagi & Anor. Versus Attorney General of Uganda for being inconsistent with Article 29(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda. Article 29(1) provides for freedom of expression and media freedom. Court also stayed the enforcement of the said section.

Prosecution alleged that the duo and others at large between January 2020 and 9th March 2022 at Lukuli Makindye Division in Kampala district willfully, maliciously repeatedly used electronic communication to wit Alternative Digitalk Online Television and relayed offensive information to wit the politics of kumanyoko, unsowing the mastered seed, liars and accomplices directed against the person of the president of the Republic of Uganda.

The Computer Misuse (Amendment) Act, 2022 has been criticized by many for being used to stifle freedom of expression and speech and is accordingly being challenged in the Constitutional court by journalists bodies, civil society organisations and lawyers.

“HRNJ-Uganda welcomes this court victory. We are grateful to the judiciary for exercising its independence. It is concerning that the State has resorted to trumped up charges against journalists and media practitioners as a way of intimidating them and silencing dissent.” Said the HRNJ-Uganda Executive Director Robert Ssempala.

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