Arusha, 14th/November/2018; The Appellate Division of The East African Court of Justice has on Tuesday 13th Nov, 2018 consolidated two Applications filed by the Attorney (A.G) of Uganda and the Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI) together with 19 other Organizations. The A.G filed an Application seeking Leave of Court to file a Notice of Appeal out of time whereas MLDI and 19 other Organizations through the Pan African Lawyers filed another Application seeking to have the Attorney General’s Application struck out.
The Court bench of Justices Liboire Nkurunziza, Aaron Ringa and Geoffrey Kiryabwire ordered the consolidation of both Applications after the A.G represented by Nabasa Charity and Natuhwera and Nelson Ndeki of Pan African Lawyers for MLDI and Others prayed for the same. All parties are expected to file written submissions in respect to their Applications between 14th December 2018 and 14th January 2019 with hearing of the Applications to be held on Notice.
Earlier on 4th January 2018, the Attorney General filed an Appeal in the same court which was later withdrawn on 8th August 2018.
On December 2nd 2014, Ronald Ssembuusi, a deceased Ugandan radio journalist, petitioned the East African Court of Justice in Arusha Tanzania challenging the continued use of sections 179 and 180 of the Penal Code of Uganda which provides for the offence of criminal defamation claiming that it violates the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community. Ssembuusi died a few weeks after filing the reference. He had been convicted and sentenced by a Magistrates Court in Uganda.
The HRNJ-Uganda Legal Officer, Diana Nandudu, who was in Arusha to follow up the matter described the step as a good stride towards challenging the law of defamation which is a big hindrance to journalists’ work.