- The issue: Cyber harassment
- Our view: A person who commits cyber harassment is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding seventy two currency points or imprisonment not exceeding three years or both.
It is doubtful that Kabarole Woman MP Sylvia Rwabwogo expected the kind of public reaction, both sympathetic and critical, that has been all over social media and other platforms, after she testified at the Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s Court about being harassed by Brian Isiko, a student at YMCA in Jinja.
Ms Rwabwogo testified that Isiko had constantly called her and even after she blocked his number, continued to send messages. The trial magistrate, Ms Gladys Kamasanyu, convicted Isiko and sentenced him to two years in jail for cyber harassment and nine months for offensive communication; both sentences will be served concurrently.
One needs to look at the facts in order to determine what was really going on. It should be noted that Isiko began his numerous calls in November last year. Not only was he calling; he was also sending text messages constantly.
In an article in Daily Monitor, MP Rwabwogo explains why she wept in court, stating that he would even send graphic videos. He would also call at 3am in the night. All this went on for eight months. Even when she constantly told him off and blocked his number, Isiko did not stop. What would this be, if it was not harassment?
Secondly, Isiko while in court, admitted his guilt: “Everything she said is correct,” he said, adding that all he wanted was to become a personal friend and get ideas on how to run his poultry project.
Questions must have arisen as to whether when one wants to become a personal friend and get business advice, they send graphic videos and continuously call and text the person they are interested in even after being told off.
It should also be noted that Isiko is, according to the Constitution, at the age of 25, an adult who should be able to make sober decisions and should take responsibility for the mistakes and in this case, crimes, he commits.
Further, the magistrate was within her mandate to convict and sentence Isiko. Section 24 under the Computer Misuse Act states: ‘A person who commits cyber harassment is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding 72 currency points or imprisonment not exceeding three years or both.
For purposes of this section, cyber harassment is the use of a computer for any of the following purposes: Making any request, suggestion or proposal which is obscene, lewd, lascivious or indecent; threatening to inflict injury or physical harm to the person or property of any person; or knowingly permits any electronic communications device to be used for any of the purposes mentioned in this section.”
All these show us that harassment is real, regardless of how people prefer to look at it and must be dealt with. Ms Rwabwogo acted within her rights to take Isiko to court, and that should be respected.