Political activist, gay ally and devoted mother Stella Nyanzi will spend Christmas in prison, still awaiting court action stemming from her Nov. 2 arrest for online insults directed at Uganda’s strongman president, Yoweri Museveni, and his family.
Court sessions of Nov. 9, Nov. 22 and Dec. 19 were inconclusive.
At her last court appearance, through her attorney, she asked to be released on the grounds that the cybercrime charges she faces under Uganda’s Computer Misuse Act are faulty.
The Nation reported that her case was adjourned until Jan. 10 to allow time for State Attorney Janat Kitimbo to prepare a response to Nyanzi’s objection.
In the meantime, Nyanzi was sent back to Luzira Prison.
The prosecution charges that Sept. 16 posted on her Facebook page suggestions deemed obscene against the president’s deceased mother. She is also accused of repeatedly posted messages aimed at disturbing Museveni’s peace and right to privacy.
The Ugandan Observer interviewed Nyanzi in prison, where she stated that she believed her Nov. 2 arrest was a blessing in disguise, “since she had credible intelligence that her life was in danger.”
“Several people would come to warn me that I should watch out; that something bad was going to happen to me. Actually, I had started seeing people trailing me. I think I needed this until the threat subsides,” she said.
On Dec. 22, Nyanzi was been fired from Makerere University along with 44 other senior academic staff as part of a “massive staff reshuffle.”
Barnabas Nawangwe, vice chancellor of the university, said most of the fired staff members had been failing to show up for work or were involved in sexual harassment cases, the Daily Nation reported.
Drop absurd charges against academic Stella Nyanzi
The Ugandan authorities must immediately drop charges against radical academic Stella Nyanzi and put a stop to the charade that has seen her spend weeks in jail, Amnesty International said today as her case finally went to trial.
The charges levelled against Stella Nyanzi under the Computer Misuse Act are in direct contravention of Uganda’s constitution and its international human rights obligations to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the right to freedom of expression.
“Stella Nyanzi has been repeatedly harassed, arrested and detained, simply for daring to speak out against the government. These latest charges relating to Facebook posts in which she criticized President Yoweri Museveni and First Lady Janet Museveni, are yet another callous attempt to silence her,” said Roland Ebole, Amnesty International’s Uganda researcher.
“We are calling on the Ugandan authorities to drop these absurd charges and ensure that she is able to enjoy her human rights without any fear of intimidation or arrest.”
The Ugandan authorities must also scrap the Computer Misuse Act 2011 — a repressive law has been used to systematically harass, intimidate and stifle government online critics.
The Makerere University academic was arrested on 2 November at a police station where she had gone to notify officers of a protest she was planning to hold at the university.
This is the second time she has been charged with insulting the president and violating his right to privacy.
- Uganda: Mom, activist, gay ally Stella Nyanzi imprisoned again (
- Stella Nyanzi: Activist mom’s writings from prison (
- Uganda: LGBTI ally Stella Nyanzi freed on bail (
- Uganda: Stella Nyanzi free but ludicrous charges must be dropped (May 10, 2017, Amnesty International)
- How to help Stella Nyanzi, activist now teaching and learning in Ugandan jail (April 14, 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Lawyer: Jailed Uganda Critic Resists Forced Psychiatric Exam (April 13, 2017, Voice of America)
- Uganda Tries to Commit Critic of President to Mental Institution (April 13, 2017, The New York Times)
- Fury over arrest of academic who called Uganda’s president a pair of buttocks (April 13, 2017, The Guardian)
- Uganda targets LGBTI ally Stella Nyanzi (UPDATED) (April 11, 2017, 76crimes.com)
- Battle Over Free Sanitary Pads Lands Ugandan Activist In Jail (April 10, 2017, NPR)
- This blog’s archive of articles about Stella Nyanzi