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Uganda: Court stays mental exam of Feminist University Lecturer

    Tuesday, July 25, 2017 - 16:33
    Dr Stella Nyanzi

    Photo Credit: GAEL GRILHOT/AFP/Getty Images

    Download PDF of most recent update to UA 89/17 Uganda

     

    Please see below a thank you message received from Stella Nyanzi:

    It is almost three months since my release on bail from Luzira Women's Prison. It is also the end of my self-imposed retreat in which I was reflecting about the new circumstances of my life as a marked government critique.

    I am writing to thank you very much for the solidarity and support that Amnesty International gave to me during the difficult days of my imprisonment on remand, as well as the wide publicity that you gave to the different court hearings of my case in which I am charged with cyber harassment and offensive communication of the person of the president. I am grateful for the different public statements that you issued condemning my abduction, denial of bail application, and imprisonment for thirty-three days. When I was in prison, receiving news about the urgent action that you issued strengthened me greatly. Your concerted efforts raised the profile of my case, expanded the reach of the knowledge about the issue, and heightened the pressure against the authorities in Uganda to take requisite action. Thank you very much.

     

    Dr Stella Nyanzi, an academic and feminist, will not be subjected to a mental health examination after a magistrate court ordered a stay of the examination on 25 May. Dr Stella Nyanzi was released on conditional bail by the same court on 10 May. She still faces charges of insulting the president and violating his right to privacy.

    The magistrate court, on 25 May, ordered a stay of the mental health examination of Dr Stella Nyanzi. The state attorney had requested for an examination of the mental health of the academic and feminist saying there was evidence that Dr Stella Nyanzi had previously been a patient at Butabika Hospital, a mental health national referral hospital and had a history of mental health issues. Following the ruling Dr Stella Nyanzi’s defence team has filed a petition at the Constitutional Court challenging the legality of the Mental Treatment Act (1964).

    Dr Stella Nyanzi was on 10 May released on conditional bail by the magistrate court. The conditions for her bail included a 10 million Ugandan shilling non-cash bond imposed on Dr Stella Nyanzi and five of her sureties, as well as her passport were handed over to the court for ‘safekeeping’.

    Dr Stella Nyanzi was arrested and detained on 7 April and subsequently charged with ‘insulting the president’ and ‘violating his right to privacy’ for criticizing President Yoweri Museveni on her social media accounts.

     

    Please send a letter and/or email without delay.

    * Start with a sentence about yourself to make your message unique.

    * Call on the Ugandan authorities to drop all charges against Dr Stella Nyanzi, as the charges are politically motivated.

    * Urge them to comply with Uganda’s Constitution and its regional and international human rights obligations to respect, protect and fulfil Dr Stella Nyanzi’s right to freedom of expression.

     

    Here is the contact information you need:

     

    Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs

    Major General (rtd) Kahinda Otafiire

    Bauman House, Plot 5, Parliament Avenue

    P. O. Box 7183

    Kampala, Uganda

    Email: info@justice.go.ug

    Fax: 011 256 412 548 29

    Salutation: Major General

     

    Inspector General of Police

    General Kale Kayihura

    Katalima Road, Naguru

    P. O. Box 7191

    Kampala, Uganda

    Email: info@upf.go.ug

    Fax: 011 256 414 255 630

    Salutation: General

     

    Please send a copy to:

     

    Minister of Foreign Affairs

    Sam Kutesa

    Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    2A/B Apollo Kaggwa Road

    P. O. Box 7048

    Kampala, Uganda

    Email: protocol@mofa.go.ug

    Fax: 011 256 412 587 22

    011 256 412 328 74

       

      His Excellency John Chrysostom Alintuma Nsambu

      High Commissioner of the Republic of Uganda

      350 Sparks Street, Suite 1210

      Ottawa, Ontario K1R 7S8

      Canada

      Fax: 1 (613) 789-8909

      Email: uhc@ugandahighcommission.com

       

      Additional Information:

      Dr Stella Nyanzi, a university lecturer, was arrested and detained on 7 April for criticizing the president. She was charged in court on 10 April with ‘insulting the president’ on her social media accounts and ‘violating his right to privacy’ under the Computer Misuse Act of 2011. She pleaded not guilty and was remanded in custody. Her detention then and prosecution violate Uganda’s obligations under its constitution and international human rights law regarding the rights to liberty and freedom of expression.

      During the hearing in which Dr Stella Nyanzi was charged, the state attorney requested for an examination of her mental health. To support his request, the state attorney said that there was evidence that Dr Stella Nyanzi had previously been a patient at Butabika Hospital, a mental health national referral hospital and has a history of mental health issues. The defence team asked the court for more time to respond to the claims by the state prosecution as the information presented against their client had not been shared with them. The magistrate accepted the defence team’s request and adjourned the matter to 25 April.

      Dr Stella Nyanzi appeared at the magistrate court on 25 April for a hearing on her application for bail and to get the mental health examination request by the state attorney dropped. The magistrate court adjourned until 10 May, as Dr Stella Nyanzi’s defence team were to make similar applications at the High Court the next day. The High Court judge, on 26 April, ruled that the magistrate court had the power to hear the bail and the mental health examination applications.

       

      If you wish to receive updates on this case, email urgentaction@amnesty.ca. In the subject line, write “Keep me updated on UA 89/17 "Uganda".

       

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