President Museveni has assented to the controversial Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill 2022 which targets critical voices online.
The Bill which now becomes an Act of Parliament was passed by August House on September 8, 2022 amid criticism from several human rights defenders and other stakeholders who argued that it was drafted in bad faith, to protect the corrupt while penalising those demanding for accountability from their leaders.
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The legislation, which was introduced by Kampala Central MP, Mr Muhammad Nsereko, listed a raft of punitive measures against people who send malicious information, hate speech, unsolicited information and sharing information about children without the consent of their parents or guardians. The punishment for the convicted person is Shs15 million or a seven-year jail term, if not both.
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It also criminalises writing, sending or sharing of any information through a computer, which is likely to ridicule, degrade or demean another person, group of persons, tribe, ethnicity, religion, or gender; create divisions among persons, a tribe, an ethnicity, a religion or gender; and or, promote hostility against a person, group of persons, a tribe, an ethnicity group, a religion or gender.
It should, however, be noted that the Bill was passed with scarcely any audible yes to combustible proposals put to the House for consideration.
Mawogola County MP, Ms Gorreth Namugga, attempted to put up a spirited fight through her lone minority report but it was all in vain as her pleas fell on deaf ears.
Amid heckling voices by a section of dissatisfied MPs, especially from the Opposition wing, Speaker of Parliament Anita Among advised them express their dissatisfaction by seeking legal redress.
“Honourable Members, I can hear some of you say we are going to court. If you want to go to court please do. Let’s create work for the court,” Ms Among said.
President Museveni on Thursday assented to three other Bills, which include the Mining and Minerals Act 2022, the Kampala Capital City (Amendment) Act 2022, and the Physical Planners Registration Act, 2022.