Journalist asks court to dismiss defamation charges against him

December 29, 2014 OPINION/NEWS




Robert Ssewankambo

The Court at City Hall in Uganda’s capital, Kampala resumed the hearing of a case in which a former Daily Monitor Journalist, Timothy Kalyegira Nyakahuuma is charged with defaming the President of the Republic of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

Through his lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, Kelyegira prayed to the court that criminal defamation charges brought against him by the State should be dismissed on grounds that Section 179 of the Penal Code Act under which he is being charged contravenes international standards and best practices of media freedom.

He further argued that according to the recent decision delivered by the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which Uganda is party to, found criminal defamation to be contrary to the guarantees on freedom of expression. The trial Magistrate, Moses Nabende advised Rwakafuzi to furnish the court with said decision.

In 2012, Kalyegira filed an application to the High Court raising a question of law as to whether online publication was envisaged under s.179 of the Penal Code Act. In deciding the matter, Justice Lameck Kigozi held that publication online can constitute a commission of an offence under section 179 of the Penal code Act and the case was referred back to the magistrate for trial.

The Prosecution alleges that on 12th and 16th July, 2010 in Kampala district, with intent to defame the person of the president, Kalyegira unlawfully published defamatory matter on the Uganda Records, an online publication, when he published that government was responsible for the bombs that went off on July 11th killing more than 80 Ugandans at the Ethiopian village in Kabalagala and Rugby Club in Lugogo.

The case was adjourned to 16th January 2015.





Robert Ssewankambo

Robert Ssewankambo is a Ugandan writer. Working currently on a freelance basis, he is a regular contributor to major newspapers in Uganda and electronic online magazines and media sources in Africa, such as the Bukedde newspaper, Hindered radio, Red Pepper, Eddobozzi newspaper and African Interest online.

For media enquiries, contact Robert at the following email address: [email protected]


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