Havard student takes Museveni twitter case to the East African Court of Justice

A Ugandan student in the US has taken the Twitter block case against President Yoweri Museveni to the Arusha-based East African Court of Justice in Tanzania.

Innocent Hilary Taylor Seguya, through his attorney Hassan Male Mabirizi, says he is dissatisfied with the decision of High Court judge Andrew Bashaija of May 20 this year.

The Civil Division of the High Court in Kampala recently ruled against Hillary Innocent Seguya, a Havard University student who petitioned the court on 26 August 2019 for being blocked on Twitter by President Yoweri Museveni, the Government Spokesperson Ofwono Opondo and Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Asan Kasingye.

Innocent Seguya a Ugandan citizen pursuing a Master’s degree in International Relations at Harvard University was seeking Shs 6 billion in damages from the president and the two government officials.

Seguya has lodged his suit at the East African Court of Justice sub-registry based in Kampala.

He lists nine grounds of appeal, which he wants the regional court to adjudicate.

They include delivery of the verdict beyond the 90 days required by the Uganda judicial review rules, sending him an unsigned copy of the judgment, failure to determine the competence of the defence and relying on the Human Right’s Enforcement Act, which he claims was published in the Gazette after filing his case.

Seguya is arguing that it was unlawful for the judge to dismiss his case with costs because it allegedly infringes on the fundamental and operational principles of the East African Community Treaty, which include good governance and adherence to the principles of democracy, rule of law, accountability, transparency, and social justice.

Seguya accused President Museveni, Uganda Media Centre executive director Ofwono Opondo and Police Chief Political Commissar AIGP Asan Kasingye of blocking him from their respective Twitter handles, which he claimed were being used to disseminate public information.

According to Justice Andrew Bashaija, the twitter handles of President Museveni, AIGP Asan Kasingye and Ofwono Opondo are private by virtue and the holders are not barred by any law of Uganda from blocking anyone from accessing them.

Therefore the three government officials have a right to use their personal handles in a manner they deem fit. The judge further noted that alternative Twitter handles used to exclusively communicate official government positions exist.

Justice Andrew Bashaija ruled that the US precedent in which President Donald Trump was ordered to unblock his twitter followers that Sseguya based on during his case is not applicable in Uganda because the law regimes are quite different in the two countries.

Justice Andrew Bashaija further stated in his ruling that there was no evidence that any of Hillary’s rights were violated by being blocked on Twitter by President Museveni and the two government officials. The application was, therefore, dismissed and Hillary ordered to pay costs.

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Joshua Amaitum

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