A Ugandan academic will be spending 18 months in prison after a court sentenced her over some of her comments on Facebook about President Yoweri Museveni.
In protest at her jail term, Stella Nyanzi exposed her breasts via a video link during Friday’s sentencing.
Nyanzi was jailed for cyber harassment but activists say her sentencing undermines Uganda’s commitment to freedom of expression.
The outspoken academic was however acquitted on a second charge, of “offensive communication”.
On Thursday, Nyanzi gave a passionate speech expressing her disappointed with that verdict
“I intended to annoy Yoweri Museveni. We are tired of his dictatorship”, she was quoted as saying.
Nyanzi, 44, previously lectured at Makerere University, one of East Africa’s most prestigious institutions.
She has been one of the harshest critics of President Museveni. In her Facebook posts she frequently launches attacks on the long-time leader through poems often laced with profanity.
I am disappointed that you don’t find me guilty of offending the president. I plan to offend Yoweri Museveni Kaguta because he has offended us. Find me guilty of offending the dictator.”#PushForStellaNyanzi#FreeStellahNyanzi pic.twitter.com/kkSoimj3BT
— Rosebell Kagumire ♉ (@RosebellK) August 1, 2019
Reaction to trial
“My presence in your court as a suspect and prisoner highlights multiple facets of dictatorship. I exposed the entrenchment of autocracy,” she wrote in her most recent post, about the court case.
She adds that “I refuse to be a mere spectator in the struggle to oust the worst dictator.”
Nyanzi’s recent court case started last year when she wrote on Facebook that she wished Mr. Museveni had been burned up by the “acidic pus” in his late mother’s birth canal.
She has been in detention since November 2018 until this week’s conviction and sentencing.
Nyanzi was previously arrested for another Facebook post, in which she referred to Museveni as a “pair of buttocks”. That case is yet to be ruled on as the trial is still pending.
Amnesty’s East Africa Director Joan Nyanyuki is quoted by the BBC as saying that “This verdict is outrageous and flies in the face of Uganda’s obligations to uphold the right to freedom of expression… and demonstrates the depths of the government’s intolerance of criticism.”