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Student sues govt over Museveni blocking him on Twitter

By Farooq Kasule

Added 26th August 2019 10:07 AM

He wants a declaration that blocking him infringes on his right against discrimination guaranteed under Articles 21, 29, 38, 41, 42 and 43 of the Constitution

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He wants a declaration that blocking him infringes on his right against discrimination guaranteed under Articles 21, 29, 38, 41, 42 and 43 of the Constitution

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KAMPALA - A Ugandan student at Harvard University has petitioned the High Court in Kampala seeking to quash a decision by President Yoweri Museveni to block him on Twitter.

In a suit lodged at the Civil Division of the High Court in Kampala on Monday morning, Hillary Innocent Taylor Seguya wants a declaration that the decision by the President to block him from accessing his Twitter account infringes on his right against discrimination guaranteed under Articles 21, 29, 38, 41, 42 and 43 of the Constitution.

Article 21 of the Constitution provides that all persons are equal before and under the law in all spheres of political, economic, social and cultural life and every other respect and shall enjoy equal protection of the law.

Through his agent Hassan Male Mabirizi, Seguya also wants a permanent injunction restraining government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo and the Police Director of Political Commissariat, Asan Kasingye, from blocking him on their Twitter handles.

In the suit, the Attorney General (AG) who is chief government legal adviser is a respondent while Museveni, Kasingye and Ofwono are not.

He contends that the trio’s twitter accounts are used as public forums to disseminate information relating to the activities of their public offices in their official capacities and to get feedback from citizens.

“As a Ugandan citizen living abroad, I am only capable of getting information relating to his country’s governance and to communicate to the respective officers including the President through their respective Twitter handles,” Seguya contends.

According to Seguya, he was on July 30, 2019, blocked by President Museveni from following, viewing, contacting, replying, liking, tagging and retweeting the tweets on his handle without notice and/or affording the applicant a hearing.

Opondo is said to have blocked Seguya on August 8 while Kasingye blocked him on July 20.

Seguya says that their actions infringe on his freedom from discrimination, thought, conscience and belief guaranteed under Article 29 of the Constitution.

Article 29 of the Constitution states that every person shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, which shall include freedom of press and other media.

Seguya says it is only fair, equitable in line with promotion of accountability in public offices, transparency and protection of the right to fair hearing and other fundamental freedoms that the application is allowed.

Even though Museveni, Kasingye and Ofwono are not respondents in the suit, Seguya wants the trio to pay costs of the suit and general damages to him for the inconveniences allegedly caused to him.

The deputy registrar of the Civil Division of the High Court has given the AG fifteen days to file defence against the allegations.

Recently, US president Donald Trump was sued over blocking American citizens on Twitter in a case he ultimately lost.

Court found that his Twitter account is a public forum and that he cannot block his critics from reading his tweets or participating in the forum because he merely dislikes them or their ideas.

 

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