A Ugandan TikTok content creator has been jailed for six years for insulting President Yoweri Museveni and members of his family.Edward Awebwa, 24, was charged over content he shared on his TikTok account ‘Save Media Uganda’ between February and March 2024.

The content was deemed ridiculous and demeaning towards President Museveni, First Lady Janet Museveni, and their son Muhoozi Kainerugaba, who is also Uganda’s Chief of Defence Forces.Awebwa was accused of sharing information claiming there would be an increase in taxes related to President Museveni.

He pleaded guilty to hate speech and disseminating misleading or malicious information last Friday.In its ruling on Wednesday, the court noted that the President, the First Lady and the first son should be respected.“The accused is pleading for mercy but he does not look remorseful at all for his acts, he is a person who was aware of what he was doing and the court had an opportunity to even see the video, the language that was being used was really vulgar,” Entebbe Chief Magistrate Court’s Presiding Chief Magistrate, Stellah-Maris Amabilisi was quoted by the local newspaper Daily Monitor as saying.

“This court is of the opinion that the accused deserves a punishment which will enable him learn from his past so that next time he will respect the person of the president, the first lady and first son.”The court added: “Taking into account the five days he has already spent in remand, the court sentences the accused as follows: six years imprisonment for each of the four counts, with the sentences to run concurrently at Kigo Upper Prison.”

In 2022, Museveni signed into law the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Act, 2022, which provides for a jail term for anybody who shares unsolicited offensive information or hate speech.“A person who uses social media to publish, distribute or share information prohibited under the laws of Uganda, or using disguised or false identity, commits an offence,” the law states.It defines offensive communication as the “willful and repeated use of electronic communication to disturb or attempt to disturb the peace, quiet or right of privacy of any person with no purpose of legitimate communication whether or not a conversation ensues.”

The offence is punishable by a fine or imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both.However, rights groups and activists have expressed discontent over it, arguing that it curtails press freedom and freedom of speech and expression.The law has been challenged in the court and in January 2023, Uganda’s constitutional court ruled that section 25 of the Act is inconsistent with the country’s constitution.

The court ordered that enforcement of the law be halted immediately, including for all cases being prosecuted or investigated.In February this year, another Ugandan TikTok content creator was arrested for allegedly abusing the Kabaka, the king of the Kingdom of Buganda, and other kingdom officials in his videos.Twenty-seven-year-old Ibrahim Musana, who runs social media pages under the name ‘Pressure Pressure’, was accused of defamation, promoting hate speech and incitement to violence. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *