Topic

Penal laws

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Penal laws deal with offences committed against the public. The main objective of the penal laws is to punish and deter other persons from committing wrongful acts. It is the duty of the State to charge a person for committing an offence as stated in the Penal Code or any other law.

Prosecution for criminal offences committed under penal laws are sanctioned by the Director of Public Prosecutions and suspected offenders are presented in the Magistrate Court for plea taking. Some criminal cases emanating from the penal laws are tried by the high court. 

For some one to be convicted evidenced must be produced beyond reasonable doubt. Private individuals can also institute criminal proceedings under the Magistrate Act Sections of the penal code that falls under this category.

The following are the cases under the penal code that journalists are likely to be tried for.

v  Section 35: Offences in relation to publications, the importation of which is prohibited.

(1) Any person who imports, publishes, sells, offers for sale, distributes or reproduces any publication, the importation of which has been prohibited under section 34, or any extract from such publication, commits an offence and is liable for a first offence to imprisonment for two years or to a fine not exceeding two thousand shillings or to both such imprisonment and fine, and for a subsequent offence to imprisonment for three years; and such publication or extract from it shall be forfeited to the Government.

v  Section 37: Publication of information prejudicial to security.

(1)  A person who publishes or causes to be published in a book, newspaper, magazine, article or any other printed matter, information regarding military operations, strategies, troop location or movement, location of military supplies or equipment of the armed forces or of the enemy, which publication is likely to—

(a) Endanger the safety of any military installations, equipment or supplies or of the members of the armed forces of Uganda;

(b) Assist the enemy in its operations; or

(c) Disrupt public order and security, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years.

(2) For the purposes of this section, “enemy” includes a person or group of persons engaged in waging war or war-like activities against the Republic of Uganda.

(3) A person shall not be prosecuted for an offence under this section without the written consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

v  Section 41: Promoting sectarianism.

(1) A person who prints, publishes, makes or utters any statement or

does any act which is likely to—

degrade, revile or expose to hatred or contempt; create alienation or despondency of; raise discontent or disaffection among; or promote, in any other way, feelings of ill will or hostility among or against, any group or body of persons on account of religion, tribe or ethnic or regional origin commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

(2) It shall be a defense to a charge under subsection (1) if the statement was printed, published, made or uttered, or the act was done with a view to exposing, discouraging or eliminating matters which promote or have a tendency to promote sectarianism.

v  Section 49: Wrongfully inducing a boycott.

(1) Whenever the Minister is satisfied that any boycott is being conducted or is threatened or is likely to be conducted in Uganda with the intention or effect of—

(a) bringing into hatred or contempt, exciting disaffection against or undermining the lawful authority of the Government or the administration of a district; or of persuading any such body to alter any written law, to appoint any commission or committee or to take any action which it is not by law required to take;

(b) Bringing the economic life of Uganda into jeopardy; or

(c) Raising discontent or disaffection among the inhabitants, or engendering feelings of ill will or hostility between different classes or different races of the population of Uganda,

and he or she is satisfied that the boycott is resulting, or will be likely to result, in acts leading to violence or intimidation or the destruction of or damage to property, the Minister may, by statutory order, designate that boycott for the purposes of this section and may, by the same or any subsequent order, specify in relation to a designated boycott any action which he or she is satisfied is likely to further that boycott, including (but without

prejudice to the generality of that power) any action falling within any of the following classes of action—

(d) Abstaining from buying goods from or selling goods to any person or class of person;

(e) Abstaining from buying or selling any goods or class of goods;

(f) Abstaining from entering or approaching or dealing at any premises at which any person or class of person carries on trade or business;

(g) Abstaining from dealing with any person or class of person in the course of his or her trade or business;

(h) abstaining from using or providing any service or class of service;

(i)   (i)  abstaining from working for or employing any person or class of person; or

(j)   (j) Abstaining from doing any other act which may lawfully be done.

(2) Any person who with intent to further any designated boycott— by word of mouth publicly; or by making a publication as defined in subsection (7), advises, induces or persuades or attempts to persuade any person or class of person to take any action which has been specified in relation to that boycott commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months. 

(3) For the purposes of this section, in determining whether any words were spoken or any publication was made with intent to further a designated boycott, every person shall, unless the contrary is proved, be deemed to intend the consequences which would naturally follow from his or her conduct at the time and in the circumstances in which he or she so conducted himself or herself.

(4) Nothing in this section shall be construed so as to make unlawful any action lawfully taken by a party to a trade dispute as defined in the Trade Unions Act in contemplation or in furtherance of that dispute.

5) Where any person is charged before any court with an offence under this section, no further proceedings in respect of the offence shall be taken against him or her without the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions, except such as the court may think necessary by remand, whether in custody or on bail, or otherwise to secure the due appearance of the person charged so, however, that if that person is remanded in custody, he or she shall, after the expiration of a period of fourteen days from the date on which he or she was so remanded, be entitled to be discharged from custody on entering into a recognizance without sureties unless within that period the Director of Public Prosecutions has consented to such further proceedings.

(6) Any order made under this section may at any time be amended, varied, suspended or revoked by a further order so made.

(7) For the purpose of this section, “publication” has the meaning given to it by section 33, and a person shall be deemed to make a publication if he or she prints, publishes, sells, offers for sale, distributes or reproduces it.

v  Section 51: Incitement to violence.

(1) Any person who, without lawful excuse, prints, publishes or to

any assembly makes any statement indicating or implying that it would be incumbent or desirable—

(a) To do any acts calculated to bring death or physical injury to any person or to any class or community of persons; or

(b) To do any acts calculated to lead to destruction or damage to any property, commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for three years.

(2) A person shall not be prosecuted for an offence under this section without the written consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

(3) For the purpose of this section, “assembly” means a gathering of three or more persons.

Section 52: Incitement to refuse or delay payment of tax.

(1) Any person who—

(a) By word of mouth or by making a publication as defined in section 49(7) incites any other person or any class or body of persons—

       (i) To refuse or to threaten to refuse to pay any lawful tax, however described; or

       (ii)   To delay, prevent or obstruct, or to threaten to delay, prevent or obstruct, the assessment or collection of any lawful tax, however described; or

(b)  Conspires with another to do any act mentioned in paragraph (a)(i) or (ii) of this subsection, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years.

(2) A person shall not be prosecuted for an offence under this section without the written consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

v  Section 53: Defamation of foreign princes.

Any person who, without such justification or excuse as would be sufficient in the case of the defamation of a private person, publishes anything intended to be read, or any sign or visible representation, tending to degrade, revile or expose to hatred or contempt any foreign prince, potentate, ambassador or other foreign dignitary with intent to disturb peace and friendship between Uganda and the country to which such prince, potentate, ambassador or dignitary belongs, commits a misdemeanour.

Section 179: Definition of libel.

Any person who, by print, writing, painting, effigy or by any means otherwise than solely by gestures, spoken words or other sounds, unlawfully publishes any defamatory matter concerning another person, with intent to defame that other person, commits the misdemeanour termed libel. (Slander: Spoken)

  1. Definition of defamatory matter.

(1) Defamatory matter is matter likely to injure the reputation of any person by exposing that person to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or likely to damage any person in his or her profession or trade by an injury to his or her reputation.

(2) It is immaterial whether at the time of the publication of the defamatory matter the person concerning whom such matter is published is living or dead.

(3) No prosecution for the publication of defamatory matter concerning a dead person shall be instituted without the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions.