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WATCH: Ugandan singer faces 10 years in jail - for a music video

“My rights have been trampled upon, my freedom of expression has been trampled upon.”

panadol Source: Producer Didi via YouTube

A POPULAR SINGER in Uganda could face up to 10 years in prison for a music video which may have broken the country’s strict new anti-pornography laws.

21-year-old Jemimah Kansiime, who performs as “Panadol wa Basajja”, meaning “medicine for men”, was arrested in November.

The video for “Nkulinze” (“I am waiting for you”) went online last September, and has been viewed more than 300,000 times.

It attracted the attention of Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo, however, who was reportedly shocked, and described her videos as ”very obscene and vulgar.”

The former priest said singers such as Rihanna – whom Panadol has cited as her hero – were “the type of people I’m condemning.”

“She’s a very provocative dancer… there’s nothing at all good there,” he said.

Now she faces up to 10 years in jail, if found guilty, in the first full trial under the anti-pornography law, which took effect in February 2014.

Human Rights Watch has argued that it defines pornography so loosely it has encouraged public attacks on women wearing skimpy clothing, and Amnesty International has called for it to be repealed.

Other critics say it’s part of a growing anti-liberal movement in Uganda, which includes tough laws against homosexuality.

panadol2

(The video in question might not be suitable for everyone, but you can watch it here.)

In his continued crackdown on pornography, Lokodo has ordered police to arrest men who procure prostitutes and described a popular TV dating show as prostitution.

Local media also reported that he also confronted Uganda’s youngest MP when she walked into parliament in a short skirt.

Panadol told AFP:

I was aware that there are some sections of society that are conservative.
I was just experimenting to see if I put on a short dress, will the audience like it?

But she says she never dreamed it might constitute breaking the law. She and her then manager Didi Muchwa Mugisha were arrested in November.

Mugisha pleaded guilty and was fined 200,000 Ugandan shillings (€60), but Panadol pleaded not guilty, and was held for five weeks before raising her bail money.

When I was making that video I never intended it for children, I intended it for adults. I did not sell or distribute the song.
My rights have been trampled upon, my freedom of expression has been trampled upon.

She is due in court later this month, but her lawyer has asked for the trial to be put on hold while Uganda’s Constitutional Court deals with a challenge against the law itself.

Contains reporting by AFP.

Read: Uganda passes tough new bill against homosexuality>

Read: Uganda tabloid prints list of 200 ‘top’ gay people>

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Dan MacGuill

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