Stella Nyanzi appeals against conviction, sentence

Tuesday August 20 2019

Suspended Makerere University researcher Dr

Suspended Makerere University researcher Dr Stella Nyanzi in the dock at Buganda road court on June 26, 2019. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA  

By JULIET KIGONGO

Imprisoned Makerere University Research fellow, Dr Stella Nyanzi has appealed to the High Court challenging her conviction and sentence.

On August 2, 2019, Buganda Road Court Grade one Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu Musenze sentenced Nyanzi to 18 months in prison after she was convicted of cyber harassment contrary to sections 24(1) and 24(2) (a) of the Computer Misuse Act (2011).

Nyanzi is however expected to serve nine months in prison since court deducted the nine months she had spent on remand.

Nonetheless, in her appeal, Nyanzi argues that the court did not have the jurisdiction and that she allowed the charge that was incurably defective, unacceptably vague and barred by law.

She wants the conviction quashed and the punishment set aside on grounds that the magistrate passed an illegal and disproportionate sentence.

“That the learned trial magistrate erred in law and fact when she failed to accord to the appellant the necessary facilities to compel the attendance of witnesses, and thereby infringed on the appellant’s right to a fair hearing,” reads the court document.

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Dr Nyanzi further adds that the trial magistrate erred in law and fact, when she refused to facilitate the compulsory attendance and examination of a defense witness, Mustapha B. Mugisa after he had absconded from court.

She states that the failure of the court to compel the witness infringed on her right to fair hearing.

“The learned trial magistrate committed a grave procedural irregularity when she deprived the appellant of the right to address the court after the close of the defense case and in reply or opposition to the written submissions of the prosecution which were concealed from the appellant,” she states.

Dr Nyanzi says the magistrate failed to properly evaluate the evidence on record, thereby arriving at a wrong decision in convicting the appellant of cyber harassment.

She alleges that the magistrate contravened Article 28(5) of the 1995 Constitution, Section 123 of the Magistrates Court Act, and the Judicature (Visual-Audio Link) Rules (2016) when she conducted proceedings on August 2, 2019 via Visual-Audio Link.

Prosecution said that on September 16, 2018, Dr Stella Nyanzi posted on her Facebook page suggestions deemed obscene against the President’s deceased mother.

It is stated that Dr Nyanzi also repeatedly posted messages to disturb or attempted to disturb the peace, quiet or right to privacy of the President.

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