What you need to know:
- In his March 17 communication to his lawyers, he instructed them to stop representing him, reasoning that the charges of offensive communication against him have since been annulled from the law books.
Exiled satirical novelist Rukirabashaija Kakwenza has stopped his defence lawyers from representing him in court.
In his March 17 communication to his lawyers of Kiiza & Mugisha Advocates, Nalukoola Advocates & Solicitors and Wanda & Arinda Advocates, he instructed them to stop representing him, reasoning that the charges of offensive communication against him have since been annulled from the law books.
“As you are aware, on January 10, 2023, the Constitutional Court declared the offence of offensive communication void in the constitutional case of Andrew Karamagi and Robert Shaka Vs AG. The court further ordered all courts to halt proceedings based on Section 25 of the Computer Misuse Act, 2021, which created the ambiguous offences that were preferred against me,” Mr Kakwenza wrote to his lawyers.
He added: “Pursuant to this judgment, it is my understanding that any further proceedings in the aforementioned court would make us appear like acquiescent faineants kowtowing to their incorrigible madness. I understand other courts, as they should, are observing the said orders of the Constitutional Court. I cannot understand why Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s Court continues to preside over and elongate my persecution on charges which are not provided for in law.”
On January 10, the Constitutional Court in a unanimous judgment, annulled Section 25 of the Computer Misuse Act, which constituted the offence of offensive communication for being unconstitutional as it was used to curtail freedom of speech.
“I find that the impugned Section is unjustifiable as it curtails freedom of speech in a free and democratic society,” Justice Kenneth Kakuru (RIP), who wrote the lead judgment, ruled.
He added: “I would allow the petition with costs to the petitioners and make the following declarations and orders … that Section 25 of the Computer Misuse Act No.2 of 2011 is null and void as it is inconsistent with the Constitution.”
Justice Kakuru also noted that “prosecuting people for the content of their communication is a violation of what falls within guarantees of freedom of expression in a democratic society.”
He cited a case in the European Court of Human Rights where “it was observed that freedom of expression includes the right to say things that ‘offend, shock or disturb the peace of the state or any sector of the population’.”
Kakwenza was facing two counts of offensive communication before Buganda Road Chief Magistrates Court. The case was pending trial.
Prosecution alleged that Mr Kakwenza, on December 24, 2022, in Kampala, willfully and repeatedly, used his twitter handle to disturb the peace of President Museveni and his son Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, with no purpose of legitimate communication.
Mr Kakwenza, who said he was tortured by security personnel while in detention, has since fled the country.
His aforementioned lawyers have since complied with Kakwenza’s instructions.