A newspaper publication which alleged Disaster Minister, Hon Hilary Onek has been taken ill abroad has pushed Members of Parliament to moot a law on cyberbullying, which they say goes on unchecked.
Onek, claimed the newspaper, was taken ill and flown to an unknown destination in a vegetative state, but appeared in plenary on Wednesday, 09 February 2022 to dismiss the story.
“I had taken two months leave from work; the two months just ended last week so I returned to work,” he said.
“Yesterday when I was going to Cabinet, I was reading through the papers then I found out that I was one of those critically flown out…that was by Daily Pepper; when I read it I wondered what was happening, Onek said adding that, ‘I can only forgive them I would wish the Red Pepper [Daily Pepper] to retract the statement because I even added on weight now how can I be critically ill in this form?” added Onek.
Kampala Central MP, Hon Muhammad Nsereko weighed in, volunteering to introduce the legislation that would clamp down on those who cyberbully others.
“I would like to applaud you on that matter; cyberbullying is a big issue around the world that emanates from computer misuse,” he said.
Nsereko said if left unchecked, cyberbullying will contribute to lawlessness where people take matters into their own hands and retaliate against their attackers, which he said would be unfortunate.
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Deputy Speaker Anita Among, who presided at the sitting, supported the move, saying like the judiciary, it is about time MPs create a legal framework which leads to effective discharge of their mandate unhindered by cyber harassment.
“I read a ruling yesterday which was made by Justice Ssekana [Musa] saying they would not tolerate anybody writing about judges, bullying judges on social media; I think that ruling should apply to legislators,” she said.
She added, ‘they should leave us to do our work; this business of witch-hunting people, blackmail should stop; we need to make a law in regard to that’.
Government Chief Whip, Hon Thomas Tayebwa undertook, on behalf of government, to support the legislation, should MP Nsereko initiate the process.
Parliament of Uganda