Makerere students win Shs 900,000 from cyber law competition

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Winners of the cyber law students' competition that was organised by Makerere department of Journalism and Communication in conjunction with Action Aid Uganda have been awarded Shs 900,000.

This was during today's Cyber law symposium that was held at Makerere main hall. The event followed that of Friday September 22 where students made presentations on Cyber law and freedom of expression in Uganda, and were graded by a panel of five judges who included their lecturers.

The winners were Steven Mayombwe (Shs 600,000), Luckel Maria Gaba (Shs 300,000 and Christopher Tusiime (Shs 100,000). Ruth Nakafuuma, who came fourth, was given a free Ugandan constitution.

While handing over the money, Nicholas Opiyo, a leading human rights lawyer and founder of the human rights organization Chapter
Four Uganda, hailed the winners for their efforts in beating off competition.

"This is the beginning. You have to work with action Aid and spread the gospel to other Ugandans that they have a right to use internet... If they get harassed, they can always come to us and we give them free legal aid," Opiyo urged.

The students in the competition were tasked to make presentations about how the internet /social media affect the way journalists receive, gather and distribute news and identify the existing cyber in laws in the country

The other tasks were explaining whether these laws are a threat or opportunity to freedom of expression and media, and finalise with making policy recommendations to the current cyber restrictions and harassment in the country. The competition attracted 18 participants.

The head of department of Journalism and Communication Dr William Tayeebwa gave a key note address. He assured the prospective journalists that traditional media will never be out competed by social media.

"You should actually see social media and internet as tools to use in your profession," Dr Tayeebwa said.

He also criticised the raiding of action Aid offices by police, saying it is so unfortunate that an organisation working for the good of Ugandans could be subjected to such brutality.

"Civil rights and Journalism are twins and we are really saddened by such actions.
But we aren't going to be cowed in this situation. Our voice should be heard that we are firm and resolute to stand for human rights in this country," Dr Tayeebwa reiterated.

For his part, the overall winner, Mayombwe, said he had worked so hard for his prize despite facing stiff completion from Gaba.


Lawyer Opio, during his presentation, urged all Ugandans to stand up and legally defend their constitution from unnecessary amendments.

"Museveni is a setting and not a rising sun. He is living anytime, and what that means is that it is the country's future at stake and not Museveni's... Tweeting alone does cause change for those who are activists. Get out of your seats, go to your villages, and talk to your MPs. We need to defend our constitution," Opiyo advised.

Opio concluded by saying that any restriction on internet usage affects the practice of journalism and freedom of expression because these rights are God-given and not granted by the state.

The first two winners, who also made presentations to hundreds that turned up for the symposium, have been asked to compile their papers and have them ready for publication by Action Aid. Dr Tayeebwa also promised to have his presentation accessible online so that Ugandans can know their rights and obligations in as far as internet usage is considered.