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Open Letter To President Museveni Over Lacuna In The Newly Passed Computer Misuse Amendment Bill

By Yusuf Osuta

Greetings your Excellency President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

I hope this finds you well and the family members.

I am one of the patriotic Ugandans, originating from Maracha District, West Nile region – Uganda

I treasure this time to write to you, your Excellency, and I hope through your Cabinet Members and other officials who inform you on weekly basis about what transpires in Uganda, my letter will reach to you.

I would like to draw your attention to Computer Misuse Amendment Bill, 2022 which the Parliament of Uganda passed on Thursday 8th September, 2022 and it’s  awaiting your signature.

Whereas we all want laws and by-laws to govern us, our environment and our country, we should reflect  on both positive and negative aspect of it.

From my point of view, I am not undermining what our MPs are doing for our Country, but I am having an insight into what they did as far as this new amendment is concerned.

On that fateful day of passing the bill, a minority report was also presented in the house, before majority of the MPs of the Eleventh Parliament voted to pass that bill.

I speak not only on my behalf but also on behalf of many Ugandans who were not consulted, as by law, to gather their opinions before such bills are passed.

Your excellency, there are a number of anomalies in that new bill but I would like to draw your attention and that of Ugandans to a particular clause.

Those who have already read the entire bill know that, there is a clause in it that criminalizes someone who records videos or audios or takes photos of some people and posts them on internet without their consent.

Much as that may avoid misuse of people’s private data, among others, think of the other side of it.

Your Excellency, my vivid reference to this particular clause is the fight against bribery and corruption related scenarios in Uganda.

As you are aware, secretly recorded videos, audios and photos have so much helped State House Anti-corruption Unit, IGG, Police and other state agencies in fighting bribery and corruption incidents in the country.

It’s most times whistle-blowers and citizen journalists who leak such information on social media and these government agencies pick it from there to start follow ups, which has in many times helped the government in recovering stolen monies or punishing perpetrators of such crimes.

If we go by what the MPs have passed in the bill, it means, before exposing on internet unethical acts, Whistle-blowers “MUST” have to first seek for the consent of a government official or politician or police officer who is secretly recorded on video or audio or captured on camera receiving a bribe or participating in embezzling public funds, which in this case, is impossible because the culprit will just turn to threaten to jail the whistle-blower.

Citizen journalism evolved after people observed some gaps in handling such incidents.

For example, someone or some people may capture on camera, or record a government official asking or receiving a bribe or misusing government funds and properties, when such a case is reported, some people who are also hungry side with the culprit and negotiate on how much money he or she can get from that bribe / corruption and the case dies in that point.

Please, your Excellency Yoweri Museveni, should you assent to that new Computer Misuse Amendment Bill 2022, it will hamper the fight against bribery, corruption and other heinous crimes that cause disservice to the government and the people of Uganda yet fighting corruption is one of the core agendas of National Resistance Movement (NRM) Party.

I beg you on behalf of the many concerned citizens of Uganda, your Excellency, do not assent to that law because it will  give a stellar ground for extortion, bribery, corruption and other crimes that derail development and service delivery in Uganda.

Those with ill intentions who have always been orchestrating such crimes will use that bill to harass decedents, activists and other concerned citizens from exposing their dubious dealings in the Country.

It’s my prayer and the prayer of majority of the Ugandans, that, you throw away that bill or have some of those blind clauses in it to be repealed by Parliament.

Please, please, please, dear President Museveni, do not sign that bill.

Must that bill be assented to;

I foresee a catastrophe!

I foresee an impending calamity as a result of “Bad Legislation”!

I foresee a prison that will be full just in less than three years from the date of assenting on that bill!

I foresee not only ordinary Ugandans who will be thrown into jail but also, politicians and other government officials will be victims to that ambiguous, draconian law.

I speak all this, for God And My Country.

The author is an activist and freelancer.

 

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