The High court has quashed the conviction and the 18-month sentence that was handed to Dr Stella Nyanzi by Buganda Road court magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu last year in August.
Kamasanyu convicted and sentenced Nyanzi of cyber harassment after she published a birthday poem on September 16, 2016 for President Yoweri Museveni's 74th birthday. Prosecution sued Nyanzi claiming the poem was too vulgar and ridiculed the person of the president.
But now, Justice Henry Peter Adonyo has ordered for the immediate release of Nyanzi, saying the Buganda Road Magistrate's court had no jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
Justice Adonyo also noted that the lower court violated Nyanzi’s constitutional right to a fair hearing. The poem in question reportedly ridiculed Esteeri Kokundeka, the late mother of President Museveni.
In December last year, the High court also awarded Shs 50 million to the Makerere University researcher for the violation of her rights by the government when it blocked her from boarding the plane in 2017.
The Shs 50m award stemmed from an application challenging the infringement of her fundamental human right when the government secretly placed her name on a “no-fly list” and confiscated her passport.
Nyanzi was blocked from leaving the country on March 19, 2017, to attend a scholarly conference in Amsterdam. By the time of the action, Nyanzi had already checked in at Entebbe International airport, but she could not get clearance from the immigration desk.
During the time police said it was investigating a possible case of offensive communication and cyber harassment against Nyanzi and she was required to assist police investigations, according to a letter from the Makerere University vice chancellor.
In a subsequent complaint to Joseph Obwona, the deputy director of the Criminal Investigations Department, Nyanzi indicated that her passport and boarding passes had been confiscated making her unable to travel. She demanded in vain to be removed from the no-fly list prompting her to run to court for redress.