Makerere University Researcher and social activist Dr. Stella Nyanzi has been granted bail.
A visibly ill looking Dr Stella was earlier brought to Buganda Road Court for a hearing in which her lawyers responded to the state’s application to inquire into her mental status, and applied for bail.
Nyanzi was arrested on April 7, 2017 soon after she made a presentation at a Rotary event in Kampala, and has been on remand at Luzira since. She is alleged to have tampered with the peace and privacy of Uganda President Yoweri Museveni between January and March this year, when she willfully and repeatedly used electronic communication to post offensive messages via Facebook.
She faces two counts of Cyber Harassment and Offensive Communication contrary to the Computer Misuse Act 2011.
— nicholas Bamulanzeki (@bamulanzeki) May 10, 2017
NYANZI STORY PREVIEW – 6AM May 10,2017
Makerere University Researcher and social activist Dr. Stella Nyanzi is expected at Buganda Road Court today May 10 for a hearing in which her lawyers will respond to the state’s application to inquire into her mental status.
Dr Nyanzi is expected to appear before Buganda Road Chief Magistrate James Mawanda Ereemye, who earlier denied her bail.
High Court Judge Elizabeth Kabanda on April 26 ruled that it will only be after the outcome of this application, that Nyanzi ‘s right to apply for bail will be considered.
During the April 27 hearing, Justice Kabanda faulted trial Chief Magistrate Mawanda for taking Dr.Nyanzi’s plea on charges of Offensive Communication, and then declining to entertain her bail application when she was produced before him on April 10.
The judge however said that the magistrate had powers to hear the mental status application, and its against this background that she has declined to strike it out as requested by Dr.Nyanzi’s lawyers.
In her ruling Justice Kabanda said High Court will hear the bail application after knowing the outcome of the application on Nyanzi’s mental health status, which can only be heard by the Magistrate’s court.
The Criminal division of the High Court had recalled Nyanzi’s case file from Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s Court following an appeal by her lawyer, Isaac Kimaze Semakadde.
According to one of Dr. Nyanzi’s lawyers Nicholas Opiyo, the mental treatment act is unlawful and wants the High Court to quash it.
In another twist to the case, reports indicate her legal team has now petitioned the Constitutional Court, challenging the validity of the Mental Treatment Act. In the petition, Nyanzi’s lawyers argue that sections 1 to 6 of the Act, which provide for an inquiry into the person’s state of mind, adjudication of insanity, admission to mental hospital and compulsory detention of a person suspected to be of unsound mind, contravenes the Uganda constitution.
The reports indicate she is seeking a court order, staying the proceedings brought by the State against her until the Constitutional Court determines her application.
— Michael O’Hagan (@micoh) April 27, 2017