Uganda: Radio moderator challenges Sedition charge against him

Regulation & Policy

The Constitutional Court has set January 18 for hearing a petition in which the East African Media Institute and journalist Andrew Mwenda try to outlaw sedition.The petitioners are challenging the provisions on sedition in the Penal Code arguing that it contravenes the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution.

Sedition is where a person utters or publishes statements aimed at bringing hatred, contempt or disaffection against the President, the Government or the Judiciary. The punishment is imprisonment for up to seven years.

Mwenda, the publisher of the Independent magazine, complains that the sedition charge against him for his moderation of a radio talk show in 2005 violates his constitutional right to freedom of expression.

Through his lawyers, Nangwala, Rezida and Company Advocates, he wants the court to declare that sedition is unconstitutional and that it should be scrapped from Uganda's law books.

The East Africa Media Institute argues that the sedition clause limits the public's right to enoy their freedom of expression and speech. However, the Attorney General argues that freedom of expression is not an absolute right. He denies that the law prevents criticism of the Government or public officials.