Lec­turer ar­rested for ‘but­tocks’ slur

CityPress - - News -

Lawyers for a Ugan­dan aca­demic, who was de­tained af­ter she called Pres­i­dent Yow­eri Mu­sev­eni “a pair of but­tocks” on Face­book, said she feared au­thor­i­ties were try­ing to have her de­clared in­sane.

Univer­sity lec­turer Stella Nyanzi was ar­rested this week af­ter re­peat­edly crit­i­cis­ing Mu­sev­eni and his wife, who serves as education min­is­ter, in “sex­u­ally ex­plicit” terms.

Her case is seen as a key test of free­dom of ex­pres­sion in the east African na­tion. The coun­try is con­sid­ered a reli­able West­ern ally in a re­gion of­ten roiled by vi­o­lence, but crit­ics say hos­til­ity to dis­sent is grow­ing in Uganda.

Ac­tivists such as Nyanzi, who was charged with cy­ber­crimes on Mon­day, have crit­i­cised Mu­sev­eni’s al­leged cor­rup­tion and nepo­tism, as well as rights vi­o­la­tions by se­cu­rity agen­cies. The 72-year-old Mu­sev­eni has been in power for more than three decades.

Nyanzi said that, in­stead of be­ing of­fended by her lan­guage, Ugan­dans should be of­fended by the pres­i­dent’s fail­ure to keep his prom­ises, in­clud­ing a pledge to pro­vide free san­i­tary pads for poor girls so they don’t have to skip school. Nyanzi’s lawyer, Nicholas Opiyo, said she told him that prison au­thor­i­ties tried to trick her into tak­ing a psy­chi­atric test shortly af­ter she was ar­rested. He said that two men pre­sent­ing them­selves as or­di­nary doc­tors were from a gov­ern­ment men­tal hos­pi­tal. Dur­ing her court hear­ing, pros­e­cu­tors asked for an eval­u­a­tion of her men­tal health, which she re­fused to take part in. Frank Baine, a spokesper­son for Uganda’s pris­ons depart­ment, de­nied the men were men­tal health spe­cial­ists. The med­i­cal exam was “a rou­tine med­i­cal exam that ev­ery new in­mate un­der­goes to avoid risks of spread­ing in­fec­tion”, he said. In­ter­na­tional rights groups, in­clud­ing Amnesty In­ter­na­tional and Hu­man Rights Watch, have called for Nyanzi’s re­lease.

– Reuters

Stella Nyanzi

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