Home News Computer Misuse Act fate awaits Regional Court Judgement

Computer Misuse Act fate awaits Regional Court Judgement


A week after President Museveni authorized into law the New Computer Misuse (Amendment) Act 2022, lawyers under the Legal Brains Trust (LBT) have moved to challenge block the law in East African Regional Court.

The petition filed before the Arusha-based East African Court of Justice, listed Uganda’s Attorney General who is upon the petition expected to file the government’s response within 45 days without fail as its first respondent.

“The applicant (Legal Brains Trust) alleges that all the provisions of Uganda’s Computer Misuse (Amendment) Act passed by Parliament of Uganda on September 9, or thereabouts and signed into law by the President, on October 13, are an infringement of the principles of good governance enshrined in Articles 6 (d) and 7 (2) of the Treaty for the establishment of the East African Community, including adherence to the principles of democracy, rule of law, accountability, transparency, social justice, equal opportunities, as well as the recognition, promotion, protection and maintenance of universally accepted standards of human rights,” the petition reads in part.

Petitioners allege that the Government of Uganda violated its duties under Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Articles 29(1)(a) and 43 of the Constitution of Uganda, which set a high standard for democracy and freedom of expression in the region, and thereby failing to abide by the principles of good governance enshrined in Articles 6(d) and 7(2) of the East African Community Treaty.

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Legal Brains Trust further asserts that the law cripples good governance to which all regional governments must keep adherence.

 “It is a defectively processed blunt instrument that disproportionately restricts freedom of expression online on vague, overly broad and unfounded pretexts, and will immediately be weaponized by the Ugandan authorities to silence dissent and prevent people from speaking out against bad governance.”

It’s on this basis that Legal Brains Trust seeks a declaration from the East African Court of Justice that all the provisions of Uganda’s Computer Misuse (Amendment) Act, 2022 as recently passed are an infringement of the principles of good governance and hence invalid.

The legal petitioners also seek to convince the court to issue an order directing the government of Uganda to cease and desist from implementing any part of the contested law to which they also want to be awarded the costs of the suit.

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An insight into the law

The Amendment was signed into law on Thursday, October 13, 2022, which among others criminalizes unauthorized access to data and prohibits sharing of data relating to children without authorization from their parents or guardians.

This followed the passing of the bill an Act of Parliament by the August House on September 8, 2022, amid criticism from several human rights defenders and other stakeholders who argued that it was drafted in bad faith, to protect the corrupt while penalizing those demanding accountability from their leaders.

The law furthermore, prohibits sending malicious information, hate speech, and unsolicited information against any member of the public with its punishment upon conviction being Shs.15 million or a seven-year jail term or both.

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