Tiktoker Bags 6 years imprisonment for insulting President

Tiktoker Bags 6 years imprisonment for insulting President

A 24-year-old Ugandan TikToker has been sentenced to six years in prison for spreading defamatory content about President Yoweri Museveni, his wife Janet Museveni, and their son Muhoozi Kainerugaba on social media. Edward Awebwa’s offense was sharing a video that alleged a rise in taxes under the current administration.

Despite the TikToker pleading guilty and apologizing for his actions, Awebwa’s language was deemed to be too coarse and lacking in remorse by the presiding magistrate. The court decided that a punitive measure was necessary to teach him to respect the president and his family.

This development has raised concerns about the Ugandan government’s commitment to upholding freedom of expression. Critics argue that authorities are using laws to silence dissenting voices, particularly on social media.

In recent years, several individuals have faced legal action for criticizing the president or his family. In one notable case, award-winning author Kakwenza Rukirabashaija was charged with “offensive communication” after making disparaging remarks about the president and his son on Twitter. Rukirabashaija fled the country after a month in detention, claiming he was subjected to torture.

Stella Nyanzi, a prominent activist and writer, also faced imprisonment after publishing a critical poem about President Museveni. The president signed a hate speech law in 2022, which rights groups claim is designed to stifle online freedom of speech. While a portion of the law was later ruled unconstitutional, Awebwa was charged under the broader law that remains under challenge.

Human rights lawyer Michael Aboneka argued that public figures like the president and his family should expect constructive criticism from the public. “They cannot use their power to silence every individual who dares to criticize them,” he said.

The case highlights the need for a delicate balance between protecting individuals’ rights and maintaining social order in an increasingly digital age.

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