Uganda: Activist poet appears in court over indecency charges

25 July 2019
Stella Nyanzi / Facebook
Image: Stella Nyanzi / Facebook


On 9 May 2019, Stella Nyanzi, a Ugandan activist and academic, finally appeared in court after numerous postponements of her case, after being arrested for her poetry according to the African Arguments.

In November 2018, Nyanzi was arrested for a poem she posted on Facebook on 16 September 2018. The post was considered “obscene or indecent” and, as a result, violated Uganda’s Computer Misuse Act of 2011, BBC News reported. The poem condemned Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s 33 year-long rule and referred to Museveni’s mother’s genitals, stating that Museveni would have been better off if he died during childbirth.

Nyanzi has now been imprisoned for eight months, charged by the Ugandan government for “cyber harassment and offensive communication”.

In response, however, Nyanzi has denied all charges, citing that “she writes only in metaphors”. Some supporters of Nyanzi argued that the charges are an attack against the freedom of expression.

In addition to the charges, state prosecutors are requesting the court to have Nyanzi’s mental state evaluated. If deemed mentally unfit, the poet is at risk for being sent to a psychiatric ward, which Nyanzi fears may be a likely outcome.  

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