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Why Nyanzi must spend Christmas in jail

By Farooq Kasule

Added 19th December 2018 04:35 PM

Prosecution alleges that on September 16, Nyanzi posted on her Facebook page indecent words against the President and his late mother.

Nyanzi 703x422

Prosecution alleges that on September 16, Nyanzi posted on her Facebook page indecent words against the President and his late mother.

CYBER HARRASSMENT  LUZIRA PRISONS

The embattled Makerere University researcher, Dr Stella Nyanzi, will spend this year’s Christmas in Jail.

On Wednesday, Nyanzi, who is battling charges of cyber harassment and offensive communication, was further remanded until January 10, 2019 after her trial hit a snag for the second time.

Immediately after state attorney Janat Kitimbo informed court that prosecution had four witnesses to testify, defence lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde challenged the validity of the charges against her.

Ssemakadde submitted that the particulars of the charges does not disclose the specific offence Nyanzi committed rendering it defective.

He noted that the terms obscene, nude and indecent are not synonymous with each other as they appear on the charge sheet and each constitute a crime and it was wrong for the prosecution to combine them on the charge under a similar count.

Ssemakadde submitted that the particulars of the charge do not indicate the purpose of the alleged indecent communication or whether it was a poem, essay, speech or a mere publication.

 “The accused is embarrassed on whether the prosecution takes issues in the alleged posts as a whole or with selective excerpts thereof because of the lack of clarity about the charges,” Ssemakadde submitted.

Ssemakadde noted that the charge sheet lacked a specific period of time when Nyanzi made the post which he said is an essential ingredient when it comes to prosecution of internet cases.

He also submitted that the particulars of the offence does not disclose any disturbance caused to the peace, quiet, right to privacy of the president and his mother.

Citing Section 132 of the Magistrate’s Court Act, Ssemakadde said the Magistrates have no powers to order for alteration of a charge if found defective.

He, therefore, asked court to dismiss the charges against Nyanzi on grounds that the charges against her are incurable under the law.

Kitimbo requested for time to respond on the objection raised by Ssemakadde.

“Your worship, basing on the lengthy submissions made by the defence lawyer, I request for some time to make a reply,” Kitimbo submitted.

Prosecution alleges that on September 16, Nyanzi posted on her Facebook page indecent words against the President and his late mother.

According to the state, the said posts were intended to disturb their peace and right to privacy.

This is not the first time Nyanzi is charged with similar offences.

On April, 10, 2017, Nyanzi was charged in the same court with the same offences but her trial never kicked off.

Under the law, Any person who willfully and repeatedly uses electronic communication to disturb or attempts to disturb the peace or right of privacy of any person with no purpose of legitimate communication is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty four currency points or imprisonment not exceeding one year or both.

In regard to Cyber Harassment, a person who willfully, maliciously and repeatedly uses electronic communication to harass another person and makes a threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety or to a member of that person’s immediate family commits the crime of cyber stalking and is liable to a fine or imprisonment term not exceeding five years or both.

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