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Human rights defenders in Uganda have faced threats and harassment in recent years as the government continued to limit freedom of expression and association. Human rights defenders advocating for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people and for civil and political rights have been particularly at risk. The government has clamped down on independent media and enacted legislation constraining the functioning of non governmental organizations (NGOs).
There are restrictions on freedom of the media as journalists have seen their work environment deteriorate with a number of them been arbitrarily arrested, intimidated and harassed by the police and other government officials. In particular in the period leading to the February 2011 general elections, a number of journalists have been arrested, threatened, assaulted and kidnapped.
The government has continued to restrict freedom of assembly and association. In April 2011, members of the security forces have used lethal force to disperse both peaceful demonstrations and rioting which sprung in the country to protest against wasteful government spending and rising commodity prices, resulting in injuries and deaths. Furthermore, people arrested during protests, are reported to have been blindfolded, taken to unknown places and detained incommunicado for long periods. In 2011, changes to public order legislation have been tabled which would pose serious challenges to human rights defenders as it grants the Inspector General of Police and the Minister of Internal Affairs broad discretionary powers over the management of public meetings.
Non governmental organizations and human rights defenders face restrictions as regards the registration and functioning of NGOs. In 2006 the Ugandan parliament enacted the 'Non-Governmental Organizations (Amendment) Registration Act', as a means of supervision and surveillance of NGOs. The Act increased administrative constraints for the registration of NGOs and provided for criminal sanctions in case of contravention. The NGO National Board, which issues registration certificates, is exclusively composed of government representatives and has wide discretionary powers in regulating NGOs and associations. Amongst the most restrictive provisions is the prohibition for NGOs to enter into direct contact with local residents in rural areas without giving seven days notice in writing to the district authorities.
Human rights defenders advocating for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people have been particularly at risk and homophobia is widespread. Despite the fact that homosexuality was already criminalised, legislation was tabled in parliament in 2009 introducing harsher penalties and banning the work of LGBTI organisations. Discussion of the bill was discontinued in 2011. An increased number of attacks, death threats, and ill-treatment aimed against LGBTI activists have been reported and, in January 2011, a prominent LGBTI rights defenders was murdered.
26 April 2013
24 January 2013
29 November 2012
04 July 2012
20 June 2012
Uganda: Human rights defender Mr Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala arrested during peaceful demonstration and later released
Uganda: Detention of human rights defenders Messrs Gerald Kankya, Simon Amanyire and Gilbert Kayondo
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