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Law on sedition scrapped

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Andrew Mwenda (L) together with his lawyer James Nangwala at the court of appeal on Wednesday. PHOTO BY ISAAC KASAMANI. 

By Alfred Nyongesa Wandera

Posted  Wednesday, August 25   2010 at  15:44
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The law on sedition has been scrapped from the Penal Code by the Constitutional Court, paving way for full enjoyment of freedom of speech and expression which is a right to criticise people who wield political power.

The judgment follows a petition filed by East Africa Media Institute and a journalist Andrew Mwenda, the Independent Magazine Managing Editor, who in 2005 mounted a constitutional challenge, arguing that penal code provisions on sedition, sectarianism, and criminal defamation contravene Article 29 of Uganda’s constitution, which guarantees free speech and free press.

The judgement offers a sigh of relief to journalists and politicians who have been facing various charges related to sedition.

He was accused of inciting the public towards hatred of the person of the president when he repeatedly said during his Andrew Mwenda Live Talk show Programme on Kfm Radio that the government of Uganda was partly responsible for the death of former President of South Sudan Dr John Garang.

Mr Mwenda said the government opted to offer Dr Garang a junk chopper during his flight back to Sudan after his state visit arguing that Dr Garang took off from Uganda at dusk and in bad weather, to embark on a route that would take him over rebel-controlled territory.

Consequently, following Mwenda’s efforts through his lawyers James Nangwala and Kenneth Kakuru, sections 39 and 40 of the Penal Code that erstwhile allowed existence of sedition have been struck out whereas sections 42, 43, and 44 which relate to sedition have been declared redundant by the Constitutional Court.