2017: Uganda: Stella Nyanzi

Prominent feminist academic and activist Dr. Stella Nyanzi was released on bail on 10 May in Uganda, however she is still being charge with cyber harrassment and offensive communication. Th Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee call for her charges to be dropped immediately and unconditionally

 

Major General (rtd) Kahinda Otafiire
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs
Bauman House, Plot 5
Parliament Avenue P. O. Box 7183
Kampala
Uganda

Oslo, May 24th 2017

 

Dear Sir,

I am writing you on behalf of the Norwegian Writers in Prison Committee. We welcome the news that prominent feminist academic and activist Dr. Stella Nyanzi was released on bail on 10 May, but continue to call for the charges against her to be dropped immediately and unconditionally, as she should never have been arrested in the first place. Dr. Nyanzi was arrested on 7 April 2017 and charged three days later with cyber harassment and offensive communication, for her Facebook posts criticizing Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni. She was detained for 33 days before she was granted bail. We believe Dr. Nyanzi has been charged for peacefully expressing her views and call on the Ugandan authorities to uphold freedom of expression and allow Dr. Nyanzi to continue her activism unabated by dropping the charges against her.

The right of free speech is enshrined in Uganda’s constitution and as a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Uganda has the obligation to protect freedom of expression. Freedom of expression includes the right to offend, particularly within the context of thoughts and opinions relating to public officials.The United Nations Human Rights Committee which oversees the implementation of the ICCPR, has made clear that the ‘mere fact that forms of expression are considered to be insulting to a public figure is not sufficient to justify the imposition of penalties’. Human rights bodies have also pointed out that heads of state and public figures should tolerate a higher degree of criticism than ordinary citizens.

We therefore ask you to immediately and unconditionally drop the charges against Dr. Stella Nyanzi. The freedom of expression is protected in the Ugandan Constitution and as a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

Yours sincerely,

Øivind Hånes
Member of the Writers in Prison Committee
Norwegian PEN

COPY: Norwegian Ministry of Foreing Affairs, Uganda Consulate in Oslo, Directorate of Public Prosecutions in Uganda