Uganda: Dr Stella Nyanzi Awarded Shs50m in Travel Ban Compensation

17 December 2019

Former Makerere University research fellow, Dr Stella Nyanzi is all smiles after the High Court in Kampala on Monday awarded her Shs50m in damages for violation of her right to movement.

Dr Nyanzi was intercepted at Entebbe International Airport in March 2017 and picked up by security personnel, barring her from travelling to Amsterdam to attend a scholarly conference.

The arrest was to help investigations into a case of offensive communication and cyber harassment. She has since been found guilty of cyber harassment charges and sentenced to 18 months in jail for harassing President Museveni and insulting his late mother.

But in resolving her counter-law suit in which she pleaded violation of her fundamental human rights and freedoms when she was blocked from leaving the country, Justice Henrietta Wolayo held that the security subjected Nyanzi to degrading treatment during her arrest at the airport for which she should be compensated.

"The right not to be subjected to degrading treatment is non-derogable, therefore, the applicant's rights (Dr Nyanzi) under Article 24 and 44 (b) were violated when she was separated from fellow travellers and prevented from travelling," ruled Justice Wolayo.

Adding: "I award the applicant [Dr Nyanzi] Shs50m as compensation for the violation of her rights to leave the country and the violation for human dignity through degrading treatment but I decline to award aggravated and punitive damages."

Justice Wolayo also ordered the government to pay 40 per cent of the taxed costs to Dr Nyanzi that she used in pursing this law suit.

Court also went ahead and restrained government from invoking the impugned letter written by CID ever again to prevent Dr Nyanzi from leaving the country or embarrassing her at the port of entry or departure.

The facts of this case arose on March 19, 2017 when Nyanzi was at the immigration offices to get clearance for her flight to Amsterdam via Nairobi. However, she was informed by the immigration officials that the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) had banned her from leaving the country and her passport and boarding pass were confiscated and she was unable to travel.

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