Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, has won a case in which a Twitter follower had sued him for blocking him on his private twitter handle.
The high court in Kampala ruled that the President was right to block Mr Hillary Innocent Taylor Seguya, a Ugandan who lives abroad, on twitter.
Mr Seguya had sued Museveni, Ofwono Opondo- The executive director of the Uganda Media Centre and Assistant Inspector General of Police, Alan Kasingye, for blocking him from following them on their respective twitter handles.
Justice Andrew Bashaija in his ruling, said that Museveni uses his private handle @kagutamuseveni and is free to decide who can follow him and who he can block.
“Being private twitter handles, therefore, the respective persons (President Museveni, Mr Ofwono and AIGP Kasingye), have the latitude to choose whom to allow or block in those handles,” Justice Bashaija ruled.
“Equally, there is nothing illegal or which precludes a public official from using his private Twitter handle to communicate or comment on a private matter or an issue of public concern. That would not in itself transform a private Twitter handle into public,” the judge said, in his ruling.
Mr Seguya claimed that the officials use their private twitter handles to disseminate information regarding their public office activities and collect feedback from citizens.
He argued that by blocking him, they were cutting the link which he relied on to get official communication for activities from his country of origin.
“The President is a public officer and a holder of a Twitter social media platform handle @KagutaMuseveni and there is no other official handle for his office. He opened the Twitter handle when he was holding the office of the President and he has since been using it in his official and not in private capacity,” Mr Seguya stated in his law suit.
He accused President Museveni of blocking him on July 30th 2019, Mr. Ofwono on August 8th 2019 and AIGP Kasigye on July 20th 2019.
While determining his case, the judge dismissed the likening of the US case in which the Court of Appeal ruled that President Donald Trump had violated the rights of some concerned citizens by blocking their responses on his twitter handle.
President Trump’s accusers had argued that the Twitter handle he was using was registered when he became the US president and he uses it for official communication and hence, they had the right to follow him.
Justice Bashaija held that the US case was not relevant to the Ugandan case since Uganda does not follow the US law, but follows the common law of its colonial masters, the Great Britain.
He also ruled that while the individuals were public officials, they were not public bodies hence the twitter handles they own, are on personal capacity
Mr Seguya was ordered to meet the legal costs the Attorney general, listed as the correspondent, used to successfully defend the suit on behalf of President Museveni and the other two public officials.