The government is looking for social media users who, early this week, declared Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah dead.
Mr Oulanyah was on February 4 flown to a hospital in Seattle in the United States of America to receive specialized treatment after spending several days at Mulago National Referral Hospital. The government did not give details about his stay in the US but information from some officials, including the deputy speaker, Ms Anita Among, later indicated that the Speaker “receiving and responding to treatment” and needed prayers for his healing.
Ms Among alongside the Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, the Minister of Health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the Democratic Party president Mr Nobert Mao and some family members of Oulanyah traveled to the US on Tuesday to check on him.
After information about their trip went viral, several social media users started speculating about the Speaker’s health, with some declaring him dead.
Ms Among yesterday tweeted saying the Speaker “…is receiving and responding to treatment under the close attention of his doctors. Let us keep him in prayers for a speedy and complete recovery. I urge the public to respect his privacy and that of the family.”
Speaking at the Uganda Media Center, the Minister for ICT and National Guidance, Mr Chris Baryomunsi said Friday that the government was looking for people who abuse others on the internet and falsely declare them dead. The minister says they are working with the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) to find the responsible people and once they get them, they shall subject them to the law.
“There are those who communicate offensively like declaring somebody dead some cases which we take up as government. We are now hunting down the originators of the messages which have been circulating. Through UCC, we can trace back to the person who originated the messages,” he said.
Government plans to charge the said people under the Computer Misuse Act of 2011. The Act provides for 13 offences which include cyberstalking, electronic fraud, unauthorized disclosure of access code and unauthorized access.
Others include cyber-harassment and Offensive Communication which, Mr Baryomunsi highlighted as the ones commonly committed against government officials.
According to the Act, a person convicted for cyber harassment can be sentenced to a fine not exceeding Shs1.22 million (seventy-two currency points) or imprisonment not exceeding three years or both.
Those found guilty of willfully and repeatedly using electronic communication like computers to disturb or attempts to disturb the peace of any person can be fined at most Shs480,000 (twenty-four currency points) or imprisonment not exceeding one year or both.
Mr Baryomunsi reminded Ugandans that freedom of expression comes with responsibilities that media users should respect. He urged Ugandans to report people who offend them using online platforms.