Charges against British theatre producer David Cecil were dropped by a Ugandan court on 2nd January. Cecil, who faced trial for producing a play with a gay theme without permission from the country's Media Council, told Index the magistrate had
declared the case dismissed as the prosecution had failed to disclose any evidence.
Cecil was arrested in September last year, when his theatre company refused to halt its production of The River and the Mountain pending a content review by
the Ugandan Media Council.
Index on Censorship and David Lan, the artistic director of the Young Vic, launched a petition calling for the charges against Cecil to be dropped which was signed by more than 2,500 people, including director Mike
Leigh, Stephen Fry, Sandi Toksvig andactor Simon Callow.
Cecil told Index:
Evidently, there is a minority in the government and cultural industry who are willing to sacrifice the constitutional right to freedom
of expression to their personal prejudices. However, the unsuccessful prosecution of this case is encouraging, and I pray that those working in the cultural industry are not put off by this oppressive and self-interested minority.
Mike Harris, Head of Advocacy at Index on Censorship said:
We're very pleased for David that the magistrate has dismissed this case --- but concerns remain over the state of free speech in Uganda. Since this prosecution, the Media Council has intervened to censor yet another
political play. The government and its agencies need to do more to defend free speech.
9th February 2013. See
article from guardian.co.uk
David Cecil, the British theatre producer arrested in Uganda in 2012 for staging a play with a homosexual protagonist, is being held in police custody after being threatened with deportation.
Immigration officers took Cecil from his home in the
outskirts of the capital, Kampala, on Thursday to Jinja Road police station, where he is being held. Fridah Mutesi, a human rights lawyer in Uganda, said the government did not disclose the grounds on which Cecil was being deported, but that it had the
power to deport individuals deemed undesirable .
In January Cecil was charged with disobeying lawful orders by the Uganda media council, which said he had staged The River and The Mountain despite being told not to. The case was dismissed
owing to a lack of evidence. It is believed that the deportation order is a result of his staging the play, which Cecil has described as a comedy drama about a gay businessman killed by his employees . The producer's lawyer, Godwin Buwa, said the
government was unhappy about Cecil's court case last month being dismissed.