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Court Dismisses Case Against Man Who Circulated Fake News About Museveni’s Death

Jamil Ssekyondwa on handcuffs before he was set free

The Luwero Chief Magistrate Court has dismissed a case against a man who allegedly circulated fake news that President Yoweri Museveni had died.

 

Jamir Ssekyondwa 23, a resident of Kabunyata trading centre in Kamira sub-county, Luwero district has been on remand since July 15, 2021. He was arrested and charged with offensive communication contrary to section 25 of the Computer Misuse Act 2011.

 

According to the charge sheet, on July 5, 2021, Ssekyondwa used his phone number 0707262431 to send messages to 0757453373 where he alleged that Museveni had died yet was false.

 

Ssekyondwa during the court hearing pleaded guilty to the offense and the prosecution asked the court to convict him.

 

But in his ruling Luwero Chief Magistrate Samuel Munobe said that the facts by State do not reveal the major elements of the offense such as repetitive communication or willfulness in such communication and right of privacy of the person in hearing that have been interfered with.

 

Munobe added that the accused cannot be convicted on such facts as doing so would be offending the able constitution principles laid down under Article 28(12) of the Constitution of Uganda (1995) as amended.

 

“ For that matter, the facts don’t reveal the offense under the law. The charge is dismissed and the accused is accordingly discharged” Chief Magistrate Munobe ruled.

 

Ssekyondwa was surprised by the ruling and remained standing in the dock till the magistrate told him that he had set him free.

 

By the time Ssekyondwa was released, he had spent eight months on remand yet the punishment for the offense if convicted is not supposed to exceed a year.

 

Dorothy Mukasa the Executive Director of Unwanted Witness welcomed the ruling but condemned security organs for using the Computer Misuse Act to silence the majority of Ugandans who express their opinions using electronic platforms.

 

Mukasa said that as digital rights activists, they are deeply concerned that the offense is selectively used to jail people who criticize the top government officials and President Museveni but these never appear in court to show how their privacy is interfered with.

 

“Right now you can’t demonstrate physically and electronic platforms are the available spaces where you can express your opinions. But security Organs are closing the space hence plunging the Country into total dictatorship “Mukasa said.

 

Meanwhile, Swaibu Nsamba Gwogyolonga, the Forum for Democratic Change-FDC chairperson for Katikamu South Constituency in Luwero district is still battling charges of offensive communication over  Facebook posts against President Museveni.

 

Nsamba was arrested in 2017 after he made a post expressing how he will announce and mourn the death of President Yoweri Museveni when he dies. The post was accompanied by a Photoshop of Museveni and how will look after his demise.

 

He was granted non-cash bail of 50 Million Shillings and each surety bonded 50 million Shillings.

 

But Nsamba’s case has never been disposed of to date and is supposed to appear before the Magistrate Court at Buganda Road every month.

-URN

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