Ameriques Asie Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
 
Uganda17 February 2004

Supreme Court invalidates "false news" law

Reporters Without Borders today welcomed an 11 February ruling by the Ugandan Supreme Court that a law banning "publication of false news" was unconstitutional..

It said it was a boost to press freedom and hoped the authorities would also remove other restrictions on the media. It noted that about 50 privately-owned radio stations were threatened with closure by the broadcasting supervisory body and that several journalists, including two with the independent daily The Monitor, were being prosecuted for alleged terrorism for reporting on the activities of rebel forces.

Section 50 of the criminal code allows politicians to intimidate journalists who criticise them by claiming their reports are subversive and brandishing the threat of two years imprisonment for allegedly "false news." The Monitor had sought to have the law struck down several times since 1997.

The Supreme Court’s seven judges unanimously ruled that section 50 conflicted with article 29 of the 1995 national constitution that guaranteed freedom of expression, saying the law did not specify what material could or could not be published and thus hampered the media from doing its job.

Monitor editor Charles Onyango-Obbo and reporter Andrew Mwenda were accused in 1997 of publishing "false news" in an article headed "Kabila paid Uganda in gold." They appealed against the "false news" law to the Constitutional Court but lost, though they were acquitted of the offence after two years. They then appealed to the Supreme Court.



In this country
29 April - Uganda
Military intelligence raids new fortnightly, arrests publisher and two journalists
20 February - Uganda
Community radio presenter raped and killed
3 April - Uganda
How to "kick out" a foreign journalist
24 February - Uganda
Net censorship reaches sub-Saharan Africa
25 January - Uganda
Government puts foreign press under close watch four weeks before election

in the annual report
Uganda - Annual report 2006

Africa press releases
3 June - Somalia
Alarm at TV station director’s abduction near Mogadishu
27 May - Gabon
Government imposes news blackout on President Bongo’s health
26 May - Somalia
Radio reporter shot by militia dies of injuries, fourth journalist to be killed this year

africa archives
archives

reports
18 March 2009 - Democratic Republic of Congo
“Bukavu, murder city”: investigation report into murders of journalists in the capital of Sud-Kivu
21 May 2008 - Eritrea
Naizghi Kiflu, the dictatorship’s eminence grise
6 March 2008 - Kenya
"How far to go ?" Kenya’s media caught in the turmoil of a failed election
archives

Sign the petitions
Eritrea
Sign the petition for the release of ten Eritrean journalists