freedom of expression

Free speech gets a huge boost in Uganda

A key freedom of expression law, used in Uganda to arrest, detain and hamper the work of journalists, along with other writers and political activists, has been declared unconstitutional by that country’s constitutional court. Five judges held that the law, dealing with ‘computer misuse’, imposed curbs that were incompatible with the constitution. The court said that prosecuting people for the content of their communication amounted to a violation of what ‘falls within guarantees of freedom of expression in a democratic society’.

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In a decision likely to have an enormous impact on freedom of expression in Uganda as well as on constitutionalism in that country more generally, five judges have held a key section of a pervasive law on ‘computer misuse’ to be invalid.

Free speech restrictions stressed by Eswatini’s election body make 2023 polls a ‘sham’

Eswatini’s election body has been challenged over recent comments by its chairperson that are seen as threatening free expression, the right to self-determination – and as even making upcoming polls a ‘sham’.

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There’s been sharp reaction to remarks by Eswatini’s elections and boundaries commission (EBC). The remarks were to the effect that members of parliament have only ‘limited’ powers and authority, and that these ‘do not extend to the monarchy’.

‘The monarchy is a no-go area,’ the EBC said earlier this week.


Dispute over Facebook post brings major free speech decision by Eswatini high court

The case of an airline accountant who posted a comment on his Facebook page that his employers have interpreted as being critical of the Eswatini government and the system of governance it operates has given the high court the opening to make an unusually strong defence of free expression. In his FB post, made at the time criticism over the government purchase of a number of luxury vehicles was making headlines, the accountant, Godfrey Exalto, included the word, ‘dictatorship’.

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Eswatini is not usually associated with strong support for freedom of expression. Yet here is the high court doing exactly that, and coming to the conclusion that remarks by an employee of the Royal Eswatini National Airways (Renac,) to the effect that the country’s government was a ‘dictatorship’, amounted to a constitutionally protected, legitimate opinion under the constitution and international law.


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