Former Makerere University researcher Dr Stella Nyanzi speaks in court in Kampala, Uganda. The academic, who once called the president "a pair of buttocks", has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after being found guilty of cyber harassment. Picture: Ronald Kabuubi/AP

JOHANNESBURG – The jailing of prominent Ugandan academic and feminist Stella Nyanzi for 18 months, for insulting President Yoweri Museveni and his family, has been slammed by international rights groups which condemned the conviction as an “outrageous” attack on freedom of expression and a bid to stifle political dissent.

“Stella Nyanzi has been criminalised solely for her creative flair of using metaphors and what may be considered insulting language to criticise president Museveni’s leadership,” said Joan Nyanyuki, director for East Africa at Amnesty International.

“The mere fact that forms of expression are considered insulting to a public figure is not sufficient ground to penalise anyone. Public officials, including those exercising the highest political authority, are legitimately subject to criticism and political opposition.”

The university lecturer had previously called Museveni a “pair of buttocks”. She also made insulting remarks about the president’s mother and his wife Janet.

After being sentenced Nyanzi bared her breasts, as she appeared in court via video link from the Luzira maximum security prison on the outskirts of the capital Kampala, in protest at her conviction for cyber harassment.

She has already spent months in prison after being arrested at the beginning of last November two weeks after writing a mocking poem about the Ugandan president.

The womens' rights campaigner has also had many run-ins with law enforcement and has been arrested numerous times over the years.

In another incident in 2016 she stripped naked in protest at Makere University in Kampala where she lectures after she was locked out of her office for refusing to partake in a PHD research course.

African News Agency (ANA)