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Court orders Facebook to reveal identity of anonymous user in Uganda defamation case

-Anietie Udobit

A court in Ireland has ordered Facebook to reveal the identity of a user who is accused of defaming a Ugandan lawyer, The Daily Monitor reports.
The judge ruled that revealing the identity of the user would allow the lawyer to sue him in a Ugandan court, the report says.
Lawyer Fred Muwema says that a Facebook user going by the name Tom Voltaire Okwalinga (TVO) defamed him for alleging that he staged a robbery at his law firm at the start of the hearing of a petition challenging the re-election of President Yoweri Museveni.
TVO also alleged in several posts on Facebook that Mr Muwema had refused to represent former Uganda’s Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi in the case after being bribed.
Mr Muwema told the Monitor that he was happy with the ruling and was looking forward to Facebook complying with it.
I am happy with the decision of the court and I am waiting for my lawyers to extract the order and for Facebook to comply with the same. I cannot comment any further than this as the matter is still in court.”
Uganda’s government spokesman, Ofwono Opondo reacted to the ruling telling the Monitor that the case had set a precedent for Ugandan courts:
If Muwema’s case went through it sets a good precedent because while we uphold the freedom of expression and now citizen journalism, in Uganda it has gone overboard. The judicial whip which the Irish court has evoked sets a landmark precedent even for our local courts here.

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