There was dram and excitement as a Ugandan court on Thursday acquitted popular activist Stella Nyanzi, ordering her immediate release from jail.
Nyanzi had been sentenced to 18 months in jail, finding her guilty of cyber-harassment. In September 2018, the 45-year-old university lecturer had refereed to the private parts of president Yoweri Museveni’s deceased mother.
Gladys Kamasanyu, the magistrate who convicted her said the ‘obscene and indecent’ verse Nyanzi posted should never have been shared in the public domain and included suggestions which ‘could only be made by an immoral person.’
Nyanzi appealed her conviction and Appeals judge Henry Peter Adonyo accepted Nyanzi’s argument that she did not get a fair hearing and trial in violation of the constitution.
Adonyo faulted the lower court saying it had no jurisdiction to try the case, and did not give Nyanzi enough time to prepare her defence.
“Why was I in prison for more than one year? I want to know. What is wrong with courts which abuse…the rights and freedoms that are constitutionally provided for?” Nyanzi said after the decision.
Her supporters were involved in a scuffle with prisons officers who tried to take Nyanzi back to jail. She fainted during the melee and was eventually taken to a nearby car which drove off.
That #StellaNyanzi conviction was overturned on ground of the lower court lacking jurisdiction and being denied a fair hearing speaks to the obvious miscarriage of justice that has besieged her since her arrest. #PushforStellaNyanzi @RosebellK @Natabaalo @bwesigye @AmnestyEARO pic.twitter.com/gcI6JB3gNj
— LawLad Ebole (@RolandEbole) February 20, 2020
Dr. Stella Nyanzi’s win today is a win for all women standing at the frontlines to fight for women’s liberation everywhere. May justice always prevail ✊🏾 #StellaNyanzi #FreeStellaNyanzi #PushForStellaNyanzi pic.twitter.com/1VmokXqKLm
— GBV Prevention Net (@GBVnet) February 20, 2020
Dr. STELLA NYANZI IS FREE!
This is a great day for feminists everywhere, pan-African feminists and feminists around the world! A High Court quashed her conviction and sentencing. She has been in prison for a poem deemed “cyber harassment” about #Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni https://t.co/XHfdolCNZ2
— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) February 20, 2020
I heartily congratulate @drstellanyanzi for remaining firm and defiant against the callous NRM/M7 Junta until today, when the High Court set her free!
Whether you agree or disagree with Stella, you’ve to salute her courage; spirit of struggle; and for being unbwoggable! ✌🏾✌🏾 pic.twitter.com/80n8EFYEK7
— Kifefe Kizza-Besigye (@kizzabesigye1) February 20, 2020
I thought I would put my excitement in a video!
Stella is free ✊🏿💪🏿 💃🏿 pic.twitter.com/FyAPq6FumH
— Year of living dangerously (@RosebellK) February 20, 2020