Uganda police arrest academic who rebuked the first family

Posted April 13, 2017

Nyanzi, a research fellow at Uganda's Makerere University, is popular on Facebook for her relentless criticisms of longtime Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

Dr Stella Nyanzi, a single mother of three, has repeatedly criticized President Yoweri Museveni and the First Lady Janet Museveni, who is also the Education and Sports Minister, for the government's failure to fulfil its commitment to provide sanitary pads to all schoolgirls.

Nyanzi launched a crowdfunding campaign to buy sanitary pads for schoolgirls.

Police spokesman Emilian Kayima confirmed that Nyanzi was taken into custody Friday and would appear in court Monday in Kampala on charges of cyber harassment and offensive communication under a 2011 law governing computer misuse.

The Ugandan academic who inspired the hashtag, will be spending 14 days in a maximum security prison in Kampala. She also calls herself "a die-hard Facebooker who loudly speaks her mind based on her banal experiences of life". "I am happy to take on the mantle of insanity if this mantle is going to be the only time that the regime will be told about its offense to the people of Uganda and therefore I am not guilty of offensive communication", she said.

After Dr. Nyanzi's arrest she was injudiciously confined without being charged for over 48 hours – a clear violation of Ugandas constitutional provisions.

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Ugandan police have detained an academic who has been critical online of what she calls "despotic family rule" in this East African country.

Dr Nyanzi also organized a public fundraising drive to buy sanitary towels for girls in school, which has collected thousands of dollars and gained widespread publicity among Ugandans at home and overseas.

Nyanzi has described the first lady as "foolish" and out of touch with the problems of ordinary Ugandans. She was arrested late on Friday before being charged on Monday, according to a charge sheet seen by Reuters. Nyanzi's post, laced with obscenities attacked Janet over her directive to parents to stop using boda bodas to transport children to school.

Many assumed that this was because of her comments about Mrs Museveni, although this was not mentioned in court. Ultimately, she was sent to Luzira until April 25 when Chief Magistrate Mawanda promised to rule on the matter.

"Dr. Nyanzi is within her constitutional rights and we are for an all-out legal battle with the state to defend her rights".