Nine Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and 5 individuals have petitioned the Constitutional Court in Kampala to challenge the Computer Misuse Act, claiming it undermines freedom of speech and expression.

The petitioners are journalists’ associations and advocacy organizations, including the Human Rights Network for Journalists, the African Center for Media Excellence, the Uganda Parliamentary Press Association, the Guild of editors and the Center for Public Interest Law, among others. The individual petitioners are; former opposition leader Winnie Kiiza, journalists Agather Atuhaire and Ronald Muhindo, and lawyers.

The group argues that the law was passed in bad faith primarily to target critics of the government and also to prevent the public from speaking out on pressing issues.

In the said petition filed today before the Constitutional Court, the petitioners argue that they were not consulted at a crucial stage in the drafting of this law, and that therefore many things that touch the heart of journalism as a profession and a trade are affected by this law.

They also argue that the law reduces political mobilization and civic space and therefore heated debates regarding the same online can be frustrated by said law.

The petitioners want the court to strike down the entire law whose articles undermine media freedom and expression.

However, since the Constitutional Court is slow to fix the petitions to be heard, the petitioners must also file a petition to temporarily suspend the application of this law.