The Penal Code Act (1950 amended in 2007)

Largely a colonial legislation meant to protect the interests of the colonialists, some of the offending anti-freedom and rights provisions remain prevalent therein to date. This Act still maintains some provisions that are injurious to free speech such as sections 41, 179 and 180 among others. Section 41 provides that : a person who prints, publishes, makes or utters any statement or does any act which is likely to (a) degrade, revile or expose to hatred or contempt; (b) create alienation or despondency of; (c) raise discontent or disaffection among; or (d) promote, in any other way, feelings of ill will or hostility among or against any group or body of persons on account of religion, tribe or ethnic or regional origin commits the offence of promoting sectarianism and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a period of no more than five years.
Additionally, section 53 provides, ‘Any person who, without such justification or excuse as would be sufficient in the case of the defamation of a private person, publishes anything intended to be read, or any sign or visible representation, tending to degrade, revile or expose to hatred or contempt any foreign prince, potentate, ambassador or other foreign dignitary with intent to disturb peace and friendship between Uganda and the country to which such prince, potentate, ambassador or dignitary belongs, commits a misdemeanor.’

Moreover, sections, 53 (foreign dignitaries) 179 (libel) and 180 (defamation) have been invoked by various government officials with questionable credentials of accountability and (ab) use of public office to shield themselves from public scrutiny by journalists.

Top