Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Uganda; Court nullifies sedition law

Kampala; 25th/08/2010, The Constitutional Court has declared the law on sedition as null and void.

The court ruling which was delivered on 25th/08/2010 morning by the court registrar Asaph Ntegye Ruhinda on behalf of five Judges including Justice Leticia Kikonyogo, Justice Steven Kavuma , Justice George Egwau, Justice Constance Byamugisha and Justice Augustine Nshiime nullified sections namely; 39 and 40 of the Penal Code, Cap. 120 which define and establish the law on sedition.

“Judges ruled that these sections of the penal code are unconstitutional and inconsistence with Article 29 (1) which guarantee freedom of speech” Ntegye said. The existence of sedition sections do not follow within the acceptable limit of speech.

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) welcomes the court ruling which has broaden the space for free speech which has been under attack for many years in Uganda.

In 2005, journalist Andrew Mwenda and East African media Institute through lawyers James Nangwala and Kenneth Kakuru petitioned Constitutional court challenging the provisions on sedition in the Penal Code Act arguing that it was violating the right to freedom of expression which is guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.

Under the Penal code Act, Sedition is defined as where a person alters or publishes statements aimed at bringing hatred, contempt or disaffection against the president, the government or the judiciary. The Act sets seven years of imprisonment on conviction. Mwenda was charged with sedition in 2005 arising from a talk show he modulated on K fm

According to HRNJ-Uganda Mid-Year Press Freedom Index Report 2010, more than a dozen of journalists have been on sedition charges and opposition political party supporters namely; Lubaga north MP Betty Kamya, Mukono north MP Betty Nambooze and Medard Ssengona.

“I commend court for having exercised its independence and struck off sedition out of our law books. This law did not affect us (media) only but the entire country” the Independent Managing Director Andrew Mwenda said. He has been charged with sedition 18 times out of the 25 charges is facing before court.

The court has also made several sections in the penal code act redundant which establish the law on promoting sectarianism including; section 42, 43 and 44 however, section which 41 which precisely define sectarianism was maintained.

The government has threatened to appeal against the sedition ruling according to principal state attorney Patricia Mutetsi as well as Mwenda against promoting sectarianism.

For More Information Contact;

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road, Mengo- Bulange, Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Preparatory School
Tel: +256-414-667627 / +256-701-810079

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