Museveni social media critic seeks stay of trial

Thursday February 4 2016

Robert Shaka

Robert Shaka 

By BETTY NDAGIRE

KAMPALA- President Museveni social media critic Robert Shaka yesterday asked Buganda Road Court to suspend his trial until the Constitutional Court decides on his petition challenging provisions of the Computer Misuse Act, upon which the charges against him are based.

Mr Shaka’s lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde, presented copies of the said petition to Buganda Road Chief Magistrate James Ereemye who is conducting the criminal trial.

The petition is challenging section 25 of the Computer Misuse Act 2011.

The law
Mr Shaka argues that section 25 of the Act is an insidious form of censorship which restricts free flow of opinions and ideas essential to sustain the collective life of the citizenry in the digital age.

His co-petitioner is city lawyer Andrew Karamagi.

Further, Mr Shaka contends that he finds the contested section to be an excessive restriction on his freedom of speech and expression.

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He adds that the same section accords the Director of Public Prosecutions “unbridled administrative and prosecutorial discretion” which has led to selective prosecution of internet users based on certain views deemed objectionable by the government.

Chief Magistrate Mr Ereemye adjourned the case to February 24 to rule on whether to call off Mr Shaka’s trial pending the determination of the constitutional petition or proceed with the trial.

Mr Shaka is accused of using offensive communication by posting statements on Facebook about President Museveni’s health condition.

Prosecution contends that Mr Shaka, disguised as Tom Voltaire Okwalinga, between 2011 and 2015 repeatedly used a computer to disturb the privacy of the President by posting statements about his health status on social media.

Mr Shaka, a government critic on social media, wants court to declare Section 25 of the Computer Misuse Act 2 of 2011 is inconsistent with Article 29(1) (a) of the Constitution and is to that extent null and void.”

bndagire@ug.nationmedia.com

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