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Uganda Court scraps sedition law

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Sheria (The Law Forum)' started by ByaseL, Aug 26, 2010.

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    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

    Aug 26, 2010
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    The Constitutional Court scrapped the law on Sedition from the country's law books in a landmark ruling delivered on Wednesday.

    The ruling comes five years after journalist Andrew Mwenda and the Eastern Media Institute (EAMI) petitioned the Constitutional Court to repel the laws on sedition and promoting sectarianism.

    The petitioners argued that both laws infringed on the freedom of speech and expression as provided for in the Constitution.

    In a judgment read by the Registrar of the Constitutional Court, Asaph Ntengye, the panel of five justices led by Deputy Chief Justice Letiticia Kikonyogo, ruled that the law on sedition is unconstitutional since it limits peoples' freedom of speech and expression.
    The judges, however, upheld the law on promoting sectarianism. According to the Penal Code Act, sedition occurs when a person utters or publishes statements aimed at bringing hatred, contempt or disaffection against the President, the Government or the Judiciary.

    The penalty is imprisonment for up to seven years. In the past, the government has used the section (on sedition) to charge several journalists.

    City lawyer James Nangwala who represented the journalists welcomed the ruling but said he will appeal against the upholding of the law on promoting sectarianism.
    "It's a 50-50 victory for my clients because those who have been on charges of sedition will be told to go home and their bail money refunded at the next hearing," Nangwala said after the Constitutional Court ruling on Wednesday.

    "Nobody can now be arrested on the account that what has been published is seditious," he added.

    Although the judges said in their ruling that they didn't find anything unconstitutional with promoting sectarianism, Nangwala said; "I'm not satisfied with the reasons they (judges) gave so we're going to appeal in the next fourteen days."