Page last updated at 12:18 GMT, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 13:18 UK

Ugandan law on protests repealed

File photo of Ugandan police blocking protesters
Police in Uganda have blocked protesters in the past

Uganda's constitutional court has annulled a law that required organisers of public meetings or protests to seek written consent from the police.

The court ruled that the law limited the public's fundamental right to freedom of assembly and association.

Under the law, the inspector-general of the police had to approve any meeting of more than 25 people.

The BBC's Sarah Grainger in Uganda says police would come up with excuses not to allow public gatherings.

She says the ruling is significant as it will make it easy for politicians and other groups to hold public meetings and protests.

Democratic principles

"In the matter now before us there is no doubt the power given to the inspector general of police is prohibitive rather than regulatory," said the judgment by Justice Constance Byamugisha.

"This means that the rights available to those who wish to assemble and therefore protest would be violated."

The ruling also said the law violated democratic principles.

"Maintaining the freedom to assemble and express dissent remains a powerful indicator of the democratic and political health of a country," it said.

Opposition politicians have previously accused the government and the police of frustrating their efforts to hold public rallies and demonstrations.

The ruling will stand unless it is contested at the Supreme Court, where it can be overturned.

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