10th July 2014
HRNJ-U Statement: Computer Misuse Act 2011
The Computer Misuse Act, 2011 is a major threat to digital freedoms and other fundamental human rights in Uganda. According to an analysis report produced by Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda), the law gags freedom of Information, Expression, Privacy and it contains a number of unnecessary vague sections that can be used to infringe freedoms of Assembly, Association and other fundamental human rights. This coincides with the new global trend adopted by states to muzzle citizens in their quest to demand for free expression and other internet freedoms as they seek to cause positive change in their societies.
The analysis report funded by the Web We Want, points out such Sections like 5, 12 and 18, which unduly limit access to information in a broad manner and does not conform to the standards set out within the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The limitations set out in the Act do not serve any pressing social need; they are overly broad, unjustifiable and irrelevant. Others include Sections 9, 10 and 11 which pose a serious threat to the right to privacy. Unlimited powers are granted to an ‘investigative officer’, not defined by law, to access data stored or processed by a computer for purposes of criminal investigations or prosecution of an offence.
The vague and imprecise provisions that can be interpreted to the detriment of persons include among others sections 3, 21(2), 24, 25 and 28(5)
HRNJ-U is concerned by the revelations of the analysis. Such clauses should be repealed in order to safe guard the fundamental media rights and freedoms of express and information HRNJ-U calls on all stakeholders to engage in a process which will lead to elimination of such restrictive sections in the Computer Misuse Act, 2011.