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Unwanted Witness Cautions Security on Internet Freedom

In a statement posted on its website, Unwanted Witness Uganda expressed its displeasure towards the repetitive threats being issued by different security agencies targeting dissenting opinions on the internet following the arrest of Kyadondo East Member of Parliament Robert Kyagulanyi and 33 other people in connection to the Arua municipality MP by-elections.

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Unwanted Witness Uganda has asked security agencies to desist from infringing on the internet rights of Ugandans under the guise of stopping hate speech.

In a statement posted on its website, Unwanted Witness Uganda expressed its displeasure towards the repetitive threats being issued by different security agencies targeting dissenting opinions on the internet following the arrest of Kyadondo East Member of Parliament Robert Kyagulanyi and 33 other people in connection to the Arua municipality MP by-elections.

Dorothy Mukasa, the Chief Executive Officer Unwanted Witness, says such statements are meant to instill fear among internet users. “Such threats by security agencies are undemocratic, unconstitutional and violate internet freedoms. They are meant to instill fear among internet users who have in the past weeks used the platform for a common cause,” she said.

 

Mukasa says internet is a human right that all state parties should respect instead of trying to infringe on because they do not agree with what government is doing or saying.

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The warning comes a few days following a press briefing in which Martin Okoth Ochola, the Inspector General of Police and the Chief of Defense Forces, General David Muhoozi made veiled threats against internet users for allegedly inciting violence and depicting the country in bad light. Police have since vowed to arrest and prosecute online users under the Computer Misuse Act 2011.

The threats stems from the “Free Bobi Wine” campaign launched by social media users to pressurize government to release the legislator. The MP was granted bail together with his co-accused on Monday after being charged with treason.  According to Mukasa, instead of resorting to threats, security should create an environment of peace.

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According to the CSO, infringing on one's usage of internet contravenes Article 29 of the constitution that gives citizens a right to free speech and expression. As such, they are calling upon the constitutional court to deliver judgment on cases challenging repressive cyber laws.

"We want the constitutional court to come out and make rulings on the cases that we have filed in the past challenging rules some of these cyber laws. If the court makes its ruling, which we believe will be in our favour, security agencies will no longer be able to infringe on opposing views of Ugandans."

 

 

About the CSO

 

 

Unwanted Witness Uganda is a CSO that seeks to create secure uncensored online platforms for activists, netizens, bloggers, freelance journalists and writers to promote human rights through writing and informing, educating the citizenry who also utilize the platform for strengthening free expression and demand for accountability.