Ugandan LGBTQ ally Stella Nyanzi was ordered freed today after she had served 15 months in prison for insulting Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his family.
High Court judge Henry Peter Adonyo quashed her conviction and her 18-month sentence, ruling that the magistrate who sentenced her last August at Buganda Road Court did not have jurisdiction over the case and had not given her a fair trial.
Nyanzi had been denied requests for expert testimony and for more time to reply after the prosecution finished its case.
Nyanzi, the 45-year-old mother of three, had been in prison since her arrest in November 2018.
She was put on trial for a rude and crude anti-Museveni birthday poem that she posted on Facebook on Sept. 16, 2018, a day after Museveni’s 74th birthday.
After Adonyo’s ruling today, confusion erupted outside the court.
Her activist supporters took her outside. She spoke to the gathering about the injustice of her trial and imprisonment, then collapsed. Prison officials insisted on taking her, unconscious, back to prison for processing before granting her official release. The crowd objected and gun shots were fired in the air before Nyanzi was carried away.
At the court session, Nyanzi displayed “No Roses from My Mouth,” a book of poems that she wrote in prison. An electronic copy of the book is available from Amazon for $5.
Nyanzi is a medical anthropologist, feminist, queer rights activist, and scholar of sexuality, family planning, and public health. Prior to her imprisonment, Stella was an academic researcher at Makerere University’s Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR) in Kampala.
- Activist Stella Nyanzi in good spirits after a year in prison (
- Ugandan academic Stella Nyanzi jailed for ‘harassing’ Museveni (August 2019, Aljazeerah)
- Ugandan activist Stella Nyanzi ‘was already condemned’ before trial (August 2019, 76crimes.com)
- Uganda: Five months in prison awaiting verdict (April 2019, 76crimes.com)
- Uganda: Mom, activist, gay ally Stella Nyanzi imprisoned again (November 2018, 76crimes.com)
- 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)
- Fury over arrest of academic who called Uganda’s president a pair of buttocks (April 13, 2017, The Guardian)
- Battle Over Free Sanitary Pads Lands Ugandan Activist In Jail (April 10, 2017, NPR)
- This blog’s archive of articles about Stella Nyanzi