Ugandan journalists, civil society petition court over computer misuse law


A group of journalists and civil society organizations on Monday petitioned the country’s Court of Appeal, seeking to trash a controversial computer misuse act.

The law, recently signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni, prohibits sending or sharing false, malicious, and unsolicited information.

Peter Arinaitwe, a human rights lawyer, told journalists in Kampala shortly after filing the petition that the law contravenes various rights of citizens.

“We find the criminalization of writing, sharing, transmitting, and taking of video clips goes against the right to freedom of expression. Citizens have a right to express themselves, the right to access information, and the right of freedom to practice one’s profession,” Arinaitwe said.

Arinaitwe said the law would cripple journalists’ work. “Journalists do their work by writing, sharing, and taking video clips. If you criminalize that right and subject it to the consent of the other party you have crippled their right.”

The activists said the country already has laws in place to protect citizens against the misuse of computers.

“If there is a need for the protection of citizens in respect to certain mischiefs in society, which the government feels should be restrained, there are existing laws,” Arinaitwe said on behalf of the petitioners who included Alternative Digitalk Limited and a number of journalists.

The Uganda Computer Misuse Act was enacted earlier in 2011 to enhance safety and security in the digital arena by preventing unlawful access, abuse, or misuse of information systems including computers, and securing the conduct of electronic transactions.

The law was amended in July this year, causing concern from journalists and civil society organizations. Enditem

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