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Free Expression Information Center – Uganda – Press Archive

06/14/2021

Independent

Ugandan government takes additional measures to ensure public health and maintain the country’s vaccination program

Since Uganda began experiencing a second wave of Covid-19 in mid-April, several government agencies and officials have taken additional measures to ensure public health and maintain the country’s vaccination program. On June 14, the Ministry of Health announced the issuance of vaccination certificates to people who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. The certificates will contain the holder’s National Identification Number and security seals to further prevent forgery of vaccination cards. On June 16, the Ministry of Health received an additional 175,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. After receiving a tip-off, the Police conducted a two-day intelligence operation during which 600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine and vaccination cards were uncovered from two private pharmacies in Kampala. Police spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyre confirmed the operation and the arrests of over 5 suspects for the theft of Covid-19 vaccines from the Ministry of Health storage facility. 

06/14/2021

Independent

Amidst the newly implemented lockdown measures, Uganda continues to face human rights challenges

Amidst the newly implemented lockdown measures, the country continues to face human rights challenges, including the prolonged and unjust persecution of opposition members and increased surveillance that infringes on privacy rights. On June 14, 17 National Unity Platform party supporters were released on bail. They are part of the 49 NUP supporters who were held for almost six months after being charged with illegal possession of ammunition. NUP President Bobi Wine said his party will be seeking justice for supporters whom he claims were beaten, humiliated, and detained despite having committed no crime. President Museveni has directed the Minister for Internal Affairs, General David Muhoozi, to install digital trackers in all vehicles and motorcycles, an effort which the President claims will not be used to abuse the right to privacy but to help combat crime by tracing all automobiles that were in the vicinity. The digital trackers are a part of a wide host of surveillance measures that President Museveni has announced over the past three years, including the installation of CCTV cameras in towns and highways that are monitored by a command center, the fingerprinting of guns, and the construction of a modern forensic laboratory. 

06/11/2021

Independent

Uganda reinstates ban on prison visits and RwandAir suspends flights during the partial lockdown

The Uganda Prisons Services reinstated a ban on visits to all detention centers. The ban was first implemented in March last year, but was later lifted to allow members of the public who tested negative for Covid-19 to visit their relatives in jail. However, all visits have been immediately suspended, regardless of vaccination status or negative Covid-19 test results. The UPS has over 60,000 inmates, only 1,132 of whom have ever contracted Covid-19. The number of active cases is 47. While the government-imposed partial lockdown did not affect air travel, RwandAir announced the suspension of all flights to and from Uganda until further notice. The ban does not affect the operations of other airlines in Rwanda but all arriving passengers will be required to test negative for Covid-19 at least 72 hours before their departing flight.

06/08/2021

Independent

Ministry of Health suspends mass vaccination program amidst vaccine shortage

The Ugandan Ministry of Health spokesperson Emmanuel Ainebyoona announced that the country has suspended its mass vaccination program against Covid-19 while awaiting the arrival of more vaccines. The remaining doses will be given to priority groups like health workers and the elderly. Since March, nearly 749,000 people have been vaccinated using AstraZeneca jab. President Museveni has said the country will soon be receiving a total of 475,000 more doses and will buy more from China, Russia, Cuba, and the United States.

06/08/2021

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Ugandan Revenue Authority returns Bobi Wine’s bulletproof car

The Ugandan Revenue Authority has returned Bobi Wine’s bulletproof vehicle following orders from President Museveni to release it from state custody. URA claimed the value of the vehicle needed to be reassessed for tax purposes and impounded it for reinspection. According to Wine, the vehicle was a donation from supporters abroad to help protect himself in the aftermath of the contested January presidential election.

06/07/2021

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President Museveni implements another Covid-19 lockdown

Ugandan President Museveni implemented another lockdown amidst a second wave of Covid-19 cases in the country. On June 6, the Ministry of Health reported the highest number of Covid-19 cases since the pandemic first broke in March 2020, registering 1,259 new cases and bringing the total tally to 52,935. The lockdown began on June 7, suspending  all school, communal, and religious gatherings for 42 days.  Beginning June 10, the ban will also bar all public transport between and across districts, with exceptions for cargo trucks and registered travel and service vehicles.

06/01/2021

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Over 2,100 arrested for breaking new lockdown restrictions

Over 2,100 people remain in police custody after being arrested for breaking the recently implemented Covid-19 lockdown while found in bars and other places of entertainment. Police spokesman Fred Enanga said the police have impounded over 450 cars and 2,000 motorcycles from people found driving past 9 pm. Motorcyclists have been ordered to stop working by 6pm, and non-essential drivers by 9pm.  Operations Director Edward Ochom has given instructions to arrest any non-essential workers who are still on the road past  9pm.

06/01/2021

Independent

44 people arrested during a wedding ceremony due to Covid-19 policies

38 men and 6 women were recently arrested during a marriage ceremony (kwanjula) in Kampala. They were charged with doing a negligent act likely to spread an infectious disease. Spokesperson of the Criminal Investigations Directorate described the event as the “wedding party of a gay couple.” All 44 individuals were later granted bail.

05/17/2021

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NUP demands the immediate release of supporters detained over Museveni’s swearing-in ceremony

At least 70 people have been detained for allegedly plotting to disrupt the swearing-in ceremony of President Museveni on May 12. The detained are being held in military cells at the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence headquarters and the Special Investigations Division. The National Unity Platform (NUP) has demanded the immediate release of the detained and is preparing to petition courts of law, forcing the government to bring the detained before a court.

05/11/2021

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Bugandan Katikkiro criticizes the Ugandan government over arbitrary detention and assault

Bugandan Kaitkkiro Charles Peter Mayiga called for the just prosecution of detained Bobi Wine supporters, asserting that the government should display evidence for the charges made against members of the opposition. Mayiga has condemned the recent attacks on journalists, saying that “instead of brutalizing journalists who only report about events, the police and military should avoid the occurences of such events.”

05/10/2021

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Ugandan Police ramp up security for Museveni’s inauguration

The Ugandan police and army heightened security measures ahead of Incumbent President Museveni’s inauguration on May 12 at Kololo Independence Grounds. The government estimated that over 4,000 guests were in attendance and security operatives closely monitored the area to identify potential threats or disruptions.  

05/06/2021

Independent

UMC Director meets with journalists to improve government-press relations

The Executive Director of the Uganda Media Center, Ofwono Opondo, recently met with journalists and media personalities at Elgon Palace Hotel in an effort to improve the government’s working relationship with the press. Opondo believed such dialogue was needed due the recent spike in brutality against journalists during the election year.  

05/04/2021

Independent

Uganda celebrates World Press Freedom Day

On May 3, the Information and Technology Ministry hosted celebrations for World Press Freedom Day in Nakawa under the theme, “Information as a Public Good.” Many prominent media and government figures spoke about critical issues affecting the Ugandan press. UN Resident Co-coordinator Rosa Malango spoke at length about the need for free and independent journalism and expressed sympathy for journalists who experienced violence during the election campaigns of last year. President of the Uganda Journalists Association Mathias Rukundo said efforts to protect the press from security brutality have so far been unsuccessful. Chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission, Dr. Katebalirwe Amooti Wa Irumba, discussed how press freedom was challenged during the 2021 elections and throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and said that there is a lot of work to still be done. 

05/04/2021

Independent

Uganda celebrates World Press Freedom Day

On May 3, the Information and Technology Ministry hosted celebrations for World Press Freedom Day in Nakawa under the theme, “Information as a Public Good.” Many prominent media and government figures spoke about critical issues affecting the Ugandan press. UN Resident Co-coordinator Rosa Malango spoke at length about the need for free and independent journalism and expressed sympathy for journalists who experienced violence during the election campaigns of last year. President of the Uganda Journalists Association Mathias Rukundo said efforts to protect the press from security brutality have so far been unsuccessful. Chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission, Dr. Katebalirwe Amooti Wa Irumba, discussed how press freedom was challenged during the 2021 elections and throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and said that there is a lot of work to still be done. 

05/04/2021

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The Uganda Editor’s Guild inaugurated on World Press Freedom Day

The Uganda Editor’s Guild was inaugurated on May 3 as part of the country’s World Press Freedom Day activities. Chairman of the Editor’s Guild Daniel Kalinaki said that the Guild will work to protect the rights and independence of journalists. The inauguration included a keynote address about the effect on militarism on media operations in Uganda, given by Professor Frederick Jjuuko of Makerere University’s School of Law. In his address, Professor Jjuuko discussed the impact of security operations on elections and claimed that militarism replaces courts of law, leads to human rights violations, and grants impunity from corruption.

05/04/2021

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Ugandan Parliament passes law banning homosexuality

On May 4, the Ugandan government passed a law that banned sexual acts between persons of the same gender, instituting a penalty of five years imprisonment. While the Sexual Offences Bill of 2019 contains provisions on establishing consent, preventing sexual violence, and protecting victims of sexual offences, Clause 11 of the bill contains the provision banning sexual acts between persons of the same gender. This ban comes after the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2013 which was annulled by the Constitutional Court over issues of quorum. According to the Jacob Oboth, Chairman of legal and parliamentary affairs, this bill has no issues with quorum.

05/03/2021

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Lawyers seek to declare preventative arrest unconstitutional

Two lawyers from the Network of Public Interest Lawyers (NEPTIL) are seeking a declaration from the Constitutional Court that preventative arrest and detention without trial are unconstitutional. Anne Tendo and Alex Martin Musiime claim that various sections within the Police Act and Criminal Procedure Code violate the rights to liberty and free association. Under these two acts, police are given wide, ambiguous, and discriminatory power to indefinitely detain people without trial. The NEPTIL is also seeking a court order directing the Attorney General to prescribe the procedure and duration of preventative detention.

05/03/2021

Independent

Foundation for Human Rights Initiative investigates attack on journalists

John Bosco Tembo of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative met with journalists Amon Kayanja of Salt Media and Teddy Nakaliga of Spark TV after they were beaten by security operatives while covering protests in Wakiso. Tembo sought to document the attack on behalf of the FHRI and to obtain justice for the injured journalists. The FHRI claim to have registered over 20 cases of journalists being assaulted while performing their duties.  Kayanja and Nakaliga claimed that security personnel have yet to reach out to them since their attack on April 28 and efforts to communicate with the UPDF have been

05/01/2021

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Ugandan government places travel ban on India

On May 1, Ugandan Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng announced that Uganda has banned flights to and from India, following a recent surge in Covid-19 cases. The ban affects travelers who have been in India within the past 14 days and only Ugandan nationals who were in India for treatment are allowed back in the country. The ban was put in effect at a time when Uganda was experiencing an acute shortage of essential supplies and the circulation of five coronavirus strains. Exceptions were made for those engaged in cargo flights, technical stops, humanitarian operations, or diplomatic flights. The Ministry of Health has also recommended foreign travelers should postpone non-essential travel to Uganda.

4/30/2021

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UBC journalist Robert Kagolo shot dead by LDU officer

Uganda Broadcasting Corporation journalist Robert Kagolo was shot dead after a confrontation with a Local Defense Unit (LDU) officer. Kagolo was returning home from his brother’s funeral service when he ran into an LDU officer and a disagreement ensued between them. Kagolo was rushed to St. Joseph Hospital Wakiso where he succumbed to his injuries. Police are now investigating the circumstances leading up to the shooting.

4/29/2021

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Two journalists beaten by UPDF officers while covering demonstrations

On April 28, two journalists were beaten by officers of the Ugandan People’s Defense Force (UPDF) while covering demonstrations in Kayunga Village over power blackouts. Teddy Nakaliga of NTV and Spark TV was pregnant when she and her colleague, Amon Kayanja of Salt TV, were assaulted by UPDF officers who had been  sent to clear road blockages caused by the demonstration. This incident has prompted responses from several prominent media personnel. CEO of Human Rights for Journalists Robert Ssempala and Secretary General of the National Association of Broadcasters have called for the officers responsible to be held accountable.

4/28/2021

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Court rules that the political slogans “Power’s government” and “People Power’ are legal

The Constitutional Court has ruled that the political slogans “the People’s government” and “People Power” are legal. National Resistance Movement supporter Adens Ntare Rutaro filed a petition over the legality of these slogans as used by Dr. Kizza Besigye and Bobi Wine for unregistered political organizations and unofficial political activities. The Court dismissed the petition claiming that the use of these slogans are within Dr. Besigye and Wine’s constitutional right to freedom of association.

4/24/2021

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NTV correspondent assaulted by UPDF officers in Mityana

On April 23, NTV correspondent Enoch Matovu was assaulted by a group of Ugandan People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) officers while returning home from the hospital with his 10-year-old daughter in Mityana. Matovu said that a double cabin vehicle of officers obstructed his path and beat him before he could finish explaining his whereabouts. According to Matovu, this was a coordinated and targeted attack on him as a journalist. After identifying himself as a journalist, Matovu said officers accused him of conspiracy and terrorist activity. 

4/21/2021

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New report ranks Uganda low on justice and rule of law

A new report from the World Justice Project has indicated that Uganda is the worst performing country in East Africa on measures of justice and rule of law. The “World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2020” ranked Uganda 117 out of a total 128 countries. The annual report provides rankings based on eight different factors and examines practical, everyday situations. Themes within the report include accessibility of public services, peaceful and cost-effective dispute resolution, and government checks and balances. In response to the report, Judiciary spokesperson Jameson Karemani said, “Despite the challenges of Covid-19 and limited funding and human resource, we feel we ranked better than what was portrayed.”

04/18/2021

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Museveni vows to reopen the economy after vulnerable groups are vaccinated

President Yoweri Museveni said the country’s economy will fully reopen after at least 80% of the elderly population and people with underlying conditions have been vaccinated against COVID-19. So far, only 200,000 out of the 5.5 million people who are eligible to be vaccinated during the first phase have received the vaccine. Museveni said the government has no timeline for when this threshold will be reached and preventive measures, such as the curfew or closure of bars, will remain in place until it is deemed safe.

04/16/2021

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Ugandan politician accused of violating Covid-19 restrictions during campaign

Kyotera MP-elect John Paul Lukwago Mpalanyi was recently arraigned in court for defying the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 restrictions. Mpalanyi was accused of negligent behavior after addressing massive campaign rallies on October 16 and December 4 that were attended by more than the recommended limit of 200 people. The prosecution claimed that those who attended the two rallies did not follow preventative measures, such as mask-wearing, handwashing, and social distancing. Mplalanyi denied the allegations and is expected to appear again in court on May 13.  

04/16/2021

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U.S. State Department announces visa restrictions on Ugandan officials over election

United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken announced visa restrictions on Ugandan officials who are responsible for undermining democracy and human rights during the country’s recently concluded elections. Secretary Blinken said security forces had routinely harassed, arrested, and held opposition candidates without charge, and had killed dozens of bystanders, opponents, and journalists throughout the election cycle. Secretary Blinken also stated that the Ugandan electoral process “was neither free nor fair” and called on the government to “significantly improve its record and hold accountable those responsible for flawed election, conduct, violence, and intimidation.”

04/16/2021

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Ugandan government releases list of 1,300 arrested people

Internal Affairs Minister Jeje Odongo has said the Ugandan government only held 58 people of the 423 missing and reported on the National Unity Platform’s list of missing supporters. Odongo added that the government arrested 269 people during the November 2020 protests over Bobi Wine’s arrest and 1,035 people over the course of the general election cycle.

04/14/2021

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Ugandan Prime Minister declines request to extend curfew hours

Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda declined a request from Parliament members to extend the hours of the Covid-19 curfew to allow the Muslim community to observe Ramadan. Dr. Rugunda cited a wave of new cases and coronavirus variants as his rationale for keeping the curfew in place. Some Parliament members disagreed with the decision to maintain the curfew, arguing that it has not helped to significantly curb infections. Other members argued that the curfew has been applied selectively and is being abused by security officers to extort money from the public. 

04/12/2021

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Ugandan Law Society releases report detailing rights violations against women and journalists

The Ugandan Law Society has published a new report, “The State of the Rule of Law in Uganda, First Quarterly Report,” documenting incidents of violence against women, harassment and abuse of journalists, and arbitrary detention and abductions of citizens. The report presents events that occured between January and March 2021. The Law Society “has witnessed cases of abuse and killing of women under unclear circumstances” and recommends that the Gender Ministry and police investigate the increasing number of rights violations against women. The report also claims that the recent elections were arbitrary, marred by the abductions of political opposition supporters, and calls for the prosecution of anyone who has threatened or abused journalists.

04 /12/ 2021

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Amnesty International accuses Ugandan authorities of abusing Covid-19 guidelines to restrict citizens' rights

A new report released by Amnesty International found  that Ugandan authorities have deployed security forces, under the guise of enforcing Covid-19 guidelines, to restrict Ugandan citizens’ rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association. The report states that at least 66 people were killed by security forces since March 2020 and that at least 12 were accused of violating lockdown measures. Additionally, 54 people were killed during protests over Bobi Wine in November 2020. The report also documented instances of Ugandan police torturing citizens as well as forcing evictions. 

04/08/2021

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Media Council summons the Daily Monitor over a story accusing Museveni of receiving early access to vaccines

The Media Council of Uganda has summoned the editors of the Daily Monitor and the East African over the publication of a story alleging that President Museveni and his inner circle received priority access to Covid-19 vaccines, ahead of Ugandan health workers and vulnerable populations. The article was originally published in the Wall Street Journal and then adapted by the Daily Monitor. The Media Council accused the Monitor’s editor, Richard Bwayo, of breaching ethical standards by publishing a “false and misleading” story. This summons follows President Museveni’s defamation suit and will accumulate in a full hearing.

04/08/2021

Independent

Uganda will continue using AstraZeneca despite reports of blood clotting

Uganda will continue using the AstraZeneca vaccine to immunize citizens against Covid-19 despite growing fears over the  adverse side effects of the vaccine, including blood clots and low blood platelet count. The AstraZeneca vaccine has so far been administered to 144,000 people in Uganda and health experts are reassuring the public of its safety. 

04/06/2021

Independent

NUP leader Bobi Wine loses a petition to block a regulatory authority from recalling his vehicle

National Unity Platform party leader Bobi Wine lost a petition to block the Ugandan Revenue Authority from recalling his armored vehicle for a reassessment. The High Court argued that Wine failed to cite evidence of irreparable injury caused by the vehicle’s seizure. The URA recalled the vehicle after learning it was armored and sought to reassess its price for tax purposes at their warehouse. Wine claims the bulletproof vehicle was donated to him from a group of mainly foreign-based supporters in order to protect himself from election related violence. 

04/02/2021

Independent

NUP party fundraises money online to foot the medical bills of 44 supporters

National Unity Platform party spokesperson Joel Ssensyonyi said that 44 torture victims approached the party’s headquarters seeking medical assistance. The party has since held several online fundraising campaigns, targeting both domestic and foreign audiences, in order to foot their medical bills. . “Keep sending money,” says Ssenyoni, “so that we can help our injured comrades who need immediate medical attention, in prison and those that need help at home.” 

04/01/2021

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HRNJ-Uganda implicates the Ugandan Police Force as the greatest perpetrator of violence against journalists

The Human Rights Network for Journalists Uganda recently released a report, entitled, “The Press Freedom Index Report 2020,” which implicates the Uganda Police Force as the greatest perpetrator of violence against journalists, holding them responsible for 104 out of the total 174 violations recorded. The Ugandan People’s Defense Force, the Immigrations department, and the Resident District Commissioners are also implicated in the report for repression and violence against journalists during the recent presidential campaigns. Of the 174 cases in the report, 69 involved assault, 40 involved blocked access, and 29 were arrests. 

04/01/2021

A new report from the US State Department condemns human rights abuses in Uganda

A new report released by the US Department of States implicates the Ugandan government in several rights abuses, including unlawful killings, arbitrary arrest and detention, restrictions on peaceful assembly and association, and forced disappearances. Titled ‘2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in Uganda,” the US State Dept accuses the Ugandan Police Force, the Uganda People’s Defense Force, and the Local Defense Unit of arresting, beating, and killing civilians with impunity for violating Covid-19 restrictions.

04/01/2021

The East African

Six activists petition the East African Court of Justice over elected-related violence in Uganda

A group of six activists from Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania filed a petition at the East African Court of Justice seeking to condemn the violence and rights abuses surrounding the January presidential election in Uganda. Lead petitioner of the case, Dr. Lina Zedriga Waru Abuku is also deputy chairperson of the National Unity Platform party, which has reported hundreds of missing supporters in the last few months. NUP party leader Bobi Wine previously petitioned the Ugandan Supreme Court to the invalidate the results of the election, claiming that the Electoral Commission falsely declared victory for his opponent, incumbent president Yoweri Museveni. However, Wine withdrew his case after a request to submit additional evidence was denied.

03/31/2021

New working group seeks to create fundamental change in the media sector

The Uganda Media Sector Working Group is a new private-sector platform made up of media houses, professional associations, regulatory bodies, interest groups, academic institutions, and security agencies. The UMSWG seeks to facilitate dialogue between the government and media professionals and to jump start effective regulations, targeted reforms, and positive developments across the media industry. The aim of the group is to enhance citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and information and fully realize the media’s role in Uganda’s development.

03/30/2021

Ugandan government plans to amend media law

Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Ms. Judith Nabakooba said the Ugandan government is planning to amend the Press and Journalist Act of 1995. The law currently establishes the right to freedom of press and provides a Council responsible for regulating mass media in Uganda. An amended version of the law will include training, protection, and remuneration of journalists and clauses that address the growing use of digital technology in journalism. The proposal to amend the Press and Journalist comes only two months after a group of journalists were brutalized by security forces while covering NUP party president Bobi Wine at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Kampala.  

03/18/2021

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President Yoweri Museveni files defamation suit against the Daily Monitor

President Museveni is suing Monitor Publications Limited for defamation after one of its subsidiaries, the Daily Monitor, published an article alleging that members of the president’s inner circle might have received Covid-19 vaccines months ahead of the Ugandan public. Originally published by the Wall Street Journal, the article alleged that a Chinese pharmaceutical company named ‘Sinopharm’ offered exclusive access to their vaccine for Ugandan government officials and Chinese nationals living in Kampala. President Museveni denies that members of his administration received the Covid-19 vaccine before Ugandan health workers and other vulnerable groups and is now seeking seven court orders against Monitor Publications, including a retraction, an apology, a permanent injunction, and monetary compensation for damages. In response to the President, the Monitor claimed that the words in their “natural and ordinary meaning” cannot pass a test of defamation.

03/16/2021

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Kampala Court dismisses torture claims by NUP supporters due to lack of evidence

The High Court in Kampala has dismissed the torture claims of 49 imprisoned National Unity Platform party supporters, citing a lack of evidence. Presiding judge Esta Nambayo argued that sworn affidavits and visible wounds of torture were insufficient to substantiate their claims against the state. “The alleged tortured persons should have presented medical evidence to corroborate their claims” said Nambayo. The NUP supporters were arrested last year in Kalangala Island for unlawful possession of ammunition and were charged by the army court in Makindye. The court has released 13 of the NUP supporters on bail while 37 remain detained indefinitely.  

03/16/2021

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Ugandan health experts assure citizens that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is safe

Ugandan Ministry of Health officials claim the WHO-approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is safe amidst widespread investigations into reports of death and blood clotting. Several European nations—including France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands—temporarily suspended use of the vaccine while awaiting the results of the investigation. Secretary General of the Uganda Medical Association Dr. Mukuzi Muhereza said that there is no confirmed link between the vaccine and blood clots. Many Ugandan officials also dismissed claims that the vaccine is not safe following President Museveni’s comments that he is still “looking at which of the vaccines’” he should go for during a televised national address.  

03/15/2021

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59 NGOs across Uganda halt activities after the government suspends the DGF

After the Ugandan government suspended the operations of the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) earlier this year, claiming that the foreign-managed fund requires more government oversight, NGOs have been forced to halt many of their activities. The DGF is a governance program established by eight of the country’s development partners and provides funding to civil society organizations specializing in human rights, democracy promotion, service delivery monitoring, and capacity-building. Since the suspension of the fund, many civil society beneficiaries have delayed plans and scheduled employees to work in shifts in efforts to reduce costs. An ad hoc committee was formed to resolve outstanding issues with the DGF after President Museveni met with EU diplomats in late February. However, it remains unclear when the committee will strike a consensus and lift the suspension.

03/15/2021

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Bobi Wine and supporters are arrested on route to protest

National Unity Platform president Bobi Wine was arrested on March 15 in downtown Kampala while on route to a demonstration against the abduction of NUP supporters in City Square. Wine was accompanied by Secretary General Davis Lewis Rubongoya and spokesperson Joel Ssenyonyi, among others, when they were intercepted by anti-riot police and taken to Central police station. Police fired teargas and bullets to disperse the crowd. Wine was arrested with nine other people and has since been released without charge.

03/11/2021

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Parliament members file a petition to lift the Covid-19 curfew

Members of the Ugandan parliament are calling for the 9pm to 4:30 am curfew to be lifted, citing abuses by security forces and positive developments with the pandemic. With the arrival of the Covid-19 vaccine in Uganda this month, as well as the considerable progress made in combating the virus’s spread, parliament members have formally filed a petition to review standard operating procedures on Covid-19, including the curfew.

While the  national curfew was initially implemented to help curb the spread of Covid-19, many parliament members are now concerned that efforts to contain peoples’ movement has paved the way for numerous human rights violations. MP Gilbert Olanya has said that security forces are mounting roadblocks and extorting citizens for passage through them. Meanwhile, MP Herbert Kibuku has expressed concern for those arrested for violating curfew but not brought into police stations. These individuals have reportedly only been released after relatives pay the officers money.

03/11/2021

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Electoral Commission pushes back on Bobi Wine’s election claims

The Ugandan Electoral Commission is pushing back on Bobi Wine’s claim that he was the true  winner of the January presidential election. Earlier this week, Bobi Wine presented 20,000 Declaration Result (DR) forms to the press which he claims the Supreme Court did not give him the chance to file. Wine believes these DR forms confirm that he won up to 54% of the total vote cast as opposed to the 35% awarded to him by the EC. EC chairperson Simon Byabakama said the Commission has already officially concluded the election process and published their final results. Byabakama said Wine should not have withdrawn his legal contest to the election results and should have presented these forms before the Supreme Court when he was given the opportunity.

03/10/2021

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Kampala Metropolitan Police arrest 63 people in an operation against NUP protests

The Ugandan police arrested 63 people in Kampala this week in an operation against protests organized by the National Unity Platform. Most of those arrested had dreadlocks or long hair, or were wearing the red colors associated with the NUP. The Kampala Metropolitan police said that they had previously received intelligence that NUP members intended to stage protests in strategic places throughout the city and thus deployed officers to “provide security and prevent unlawful protests.” These arrests come one day after Bobi Wine claimed  he had won the January presidential election with 54% of the vote, rallying his supporters against the Electoral Commission’s results.

03/08/2021

Kampala Dispatch

Museveni threatens to run the Daily Monitor bankrupt

During the State House commemoration of International Women’s Day, President Yoweri Museveni made statements that threatened to bankrupt the Daily Monitor. . The newspaper  has become  the subject of much criticism after it ran a news story alleging that President Museveni’s inner circle received China’s Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine months ahead of health workers and other vulnerable groups. The Daily Monitor ran the story based on reporting from the Wall Street Journal in late February. 

Uganda received its first batch of Covid-19 vaccines last week and is set to begin vaccinations soon.

03/05/2021

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Uganda receives first batch of Covid-19 vaccines and prepares for distribution

On March 5, Uganda received its first shipment of Covid-19 vaccines from the UN’s COVAX Facility. About 864,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines were received by the Ministry of Health and transported to National Medical Stores in three cold chain trucks. The distribution list has been finalized and vaccination service points have been designated in each district with vaccinations set to commence on March 10. Health workers followed by teachers will be given  first priority for vaccinations. These groups will be followed by security personnel, the elderly, and people between the ages of 18 and 50 with underlying health conditions.

03/05/2021

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Opposition leader Bobi Wine formally withdraws petition from the Supreme Court

The Ugandan Supreme Court has allowed Opposition leader Bobi Wine to withdraw his petition to overturn the results of the January presidential election. Wine initially petitioned the court on February 1, accusing the Electoral Commission of fraudulently declaring incumbent Yoweri Museveni the winner, citing reports of electoral rigging and voter intimidation. All parties involved in the case—including Wine, Museveni, the Electoral Commission, and the Attorney General—agreed to withdraw the case. 

03/03/2021

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Four journalists seek a court declaration against the Ugandan government for violations of free expression and press

Four journalists who were beaten at the UN human rights office in Kampala last month are seeking a court declaration that would recognize the beating, dispersing, chasing, and blocking of journalists from their professional work as a violation of the constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press. John Cliff Wamala, Geoffrey Twesigye, Josephine Namakumbi, and Shamim Nabakooza were among the journalists beaten by military police and admitted to hospitals with serious injuries. They are also seeking a court declaration that media personnel are entitled to freely practice their work without intimidation or battering from security agencies.

03/03/2021

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National Unity Platform releases list of 243 Missing Persons in Uganda

According to the National Unity Platform (NUP) party, at least 458 Ugandans are missing from their families and their whereabouts remain unknown. A copy of the list of missing persons that was obtained by the Daily Monitor contains the names of only 243 people. NUP opened a register of missing supporters last November following the petitions from concerned family members.   

02/27/2021

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A teenage boy was shot dead while Bukedea police enforced a night curfew

A 17 year old teenage boy was shot dead on February 26 for violating a night curfew as Ugandan police intensify their enforcement of pandemic-related restrictions. Student Patrick Otimong was partying with others at Kanyipe trading center when an altercation transpired between partygoers and the Bukedea police. According to regional East Kyoga police spokesman David Ongom Mudong, the Kanyipe village chairperson Simon Okolong had unlawfully given the townspeople permission to drink and dance overnight despite COVID-19 guidelines, including the closing of all bars and clubs and a curfew between 9pm and 6am.

02/26/2021

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Many Ugandans continue to use VPNs despite restored internet access

Many Ugandans continue to use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) despite the government’s easing of internet and social media restrictions. The Ugandan government ordered a full internet shutdown prior to the January presidential election, citing concerns over disinformation. Mobile internet remains highly restricted even after the ease and the use of VPNs ensure Ugandans private, anonymous, and unregulated access to social media platforms.

02/22/2021

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UN SECRETARY GENERAL CRITICIZES COUNTRIES USING PANDEMIC AS PRE-TEXT TO CRUSH DISSENT AND FREE SPEECH

In a piece published in The Guardian, UN Secretary General António Guterres highlighted how COVID-19 restrictions have been co-opted to detain, prosecute, intimidate, and surveil human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, political activists, medical professionals, and citizens criticizing the government. “Using the pandemic as a pretext,” he writes, “authorities in some countries have deployed heavy-handed security responses and emergency measures to crush dissent, criminalise basic freedoms, silence independent reporting and restrict the activities of nongovernmental organisations.”

This piece was published as part of The Guardian’s new reporting series, Rights and Freedom, launched one year after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to investigate and expose human rights abuses

02/17/2021

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The United Nations calls for immediate investigation into Ugandan military police’s attack on journalists

The United Nations called on the Ugandan government “to immediately investigate” the Ugandan military’s attack on journalists outside the UN human rights office in Kampala and “ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.” The journalists were there to cover Opposition leader Bobi Wine’s petition to the United Nations over the harassment and forced disappearance of his supporters by Ugandan security forces.

02/24/2021

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U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT URGES INVESTIGATIONS INTO ELECTION IRREGULARITIES AND HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN UGANDA

During a news conference on Wednesday, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price strongly urged “independent, credible, impartial, and thorough investigations” into allegations of election irregularities and human rights abuses committed by security forces in Uganda. Price says the United States is considering “a range of targeted options” to hold the security forces responsible accountable for their actions.

02/22/2021

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OPPOSITION LEADER BOBI WINE ANNOUNCES THE WITHDRAW OF HIS LEGAL CHALLENGE TO THE JANUARY PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION RESULTS

Ugandan Opposition leader Bobi Wine announced he will withdraw a court case challenging the results of the January presidential election during a news conference in Kampala on Monday. “The courts are not independent,” said Wine, and “We are convinced that the Supreme Court has a predetermined mind.” Wine’s announcement follows a nationwide crackdown by security forces on journalists and supporters of his National Unity Platform party.

02/22/2021

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SEVEN UGANDAN NEWS WEBSITES WERE REMOVED FROM FACEBOOK FOLLOWING REPORTS OF COORDINATED INAUTHENTIC BEHAVIOR

Facebook pages for seven Ugandan news websites were removed from the platform on January 8 due to coordinated inauthentic behavior. The websites implicated in the takedown, including The Ugandan and Kampala Post, directly copied pro-Museveni content from the National Resistance Movement website and peddled a disinformation campaign against Bobi Wine leading up to the January presidential election.

02/18/2021

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ACTIVIST STELLA NYANZI CONTINUES TO SPEAK OUT AGAINST UGANDAN GOVERNMENT WHILE EXILED IN KENYA

Activist and academic Stella Nyanzi continues to use her digital platform to speak out against injustice in her home country. Nyanzi fled Uganda earlier this month following the abduction of her partner during a government crackdown on political dissidents. “I don’t have to be in Uganda to post anything on Facebook,” says Nyanzi, who is now exiled in Kenya. She says she will do “anything to contribute toward the conscientization and awakening of the minds of Uganda and Ugandans.”

02/17/2021

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AT LEAST 20 JOURNALISTS BEATEN BY UGANDAN MILITARY AND POLICE COVERING U.N. PETITION

Journalists covering the petition on human rights violations at the local U.N. office in Kampala were beaten by Ugandan military and police officers on Wednesday. According to Reuters, at least 20 journalists were hurt, with at least four sustaining head injuries.

02/15/2021

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BOBI WINE RELEASES LIST OF 243 PEOPLE WHO HE CLAIMS WERE ABDUCTED BY THE GOVERNMENT

As reports of kidnapped and missing individuals continue, Bobi Wine has released a list of at least 243 individuals who he claims have been abducted by the government. He claims that many of his supporters have been missing, abducted by numberless “drone” vehicles, Toyota Hiace vehicles that are primarily used by security personnel in covert operations and commonly referred to as “drones.”

Acting Police Director of Traffic and Road Safety Lawrence Niwabiine defended the use of the vehicles. In a televised address, President Museveni warned that the kidnappings should not be associated with the Ugandan government.  

02/13/2021

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EU DEMANDS SANCTIONS AGAINST UGANDAN OFFICIALS RESPONSIBLE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE AND FREE SPEECH VIOLATIONS

The European Union (EU) Parliament recently recommended sanctions against Ugandan officials and organizations responsible for human rights violations leading up to and during the January election. The EU demanded that the government drop all charges against those detained for participating in peaceful protests and exercising their right to freedom of expression.

The previous day, the United Kingdom government froze funding for the Uganda Police Force, Uganda Prisons Service, and Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) due to the Ugandan government’s repressive actions and human rights abuses.

02/10/2021

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UGANDA RESTORES INTERNET AND SOCIAL MEDIA EXCEPT FACEBOOK AFTER WEEKS OF SHUTDOWN

Nearly a month after the January 14 elections, the Ugandan government has fully restored internet access and social media services, excluding Facebook, in the country. Peter Ogwang – Minister of State for Information, Communication Technology and National Guidance – apologized for the “inconveniences,” citing security needs.  Apps such as Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp are back online, while Facebook remains blocked.

02/06/2021

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STELLA NYANZI FLEES UGANDA FOR KENYA

Activist and academic Dr. Stella Nyanzi has fled to Kenya, disguised as a banana seller and seeking political asylum in Kenya. In a social media post, Nyanzi voiced her fear of being targeted or politically persecuted as abductions and kidnappings continue throughout the country.

 

02/03/2021

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UGANDAN POLICE PLANNING $4M BIOMETRIC FORENSIC SYSTEM

The police director in charge of operations recently announced that they are planning the Criminal Automated Biometric Identification System (CABIS), which will permit police officials to use biometric features – including fingerprints, face images, and iris images – to identify criminal suspects. Officials claim this technology system will fulfill Museveni’s desire to see intelligence information gathering utilized to fight crime. There have been longstanding concerns from civil society organizations that such technology will permit further human rights abuses.

01/31/2021

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AFRICAN UNION LAUNCHES WEBSITE TO TRACK THREATS AGAINST JOURNALISTS IN UGANDA

In an effort to improve the protection of journalists and media workers, the African Union has launched a new website to track and monitor threats facing those working to ensure the right to freedom of expression. The website can be accessed at the following link: https://safetyofjournalistsinafrica.africa/.

01/28/2021

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GOVERNMENT SAYS SOCIAL MEDIA WILL REMAIN BLOCKED UNTIL IT IS NO LONGER A THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY

While the Ugandan government switched the internet back on last week, social media platforms remain blocked and accessible only through virtual private networks (VPN). Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda stated that the decision was made after the government confirmed that social media, and its spread of inflammatory post-election narratives about Uganda, is a “threat to national security.”

01/27/2021

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FOLLOWING ELECTION, JOURNALISTS AND YOUNG PEOPLE ARE DISAPPEARING AND BEING FORCED INTO HIDING

According to The Observer, in the aftermath of the January 14 elections, there are emerging grim accounts of  journalists and young people disappearing, being grabbed off the streets and picked up from their homes at night. One journalist shared his experience with The Observer. You can read his full testimony here. For more information on how to protect yourself from digital and physical threats, check out “TAKE ACTION: Tools” at the bottom of this page.

01/25/2021

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DESPITE COURT ORDER, BOBI WINE’S HOME REMAINS SURROUNDED BY POLICE AND MILITARY OFFICERS

Police and military deployments continue to surround Bobi Wine’s residence despite court orders for the security forces to leave. Wine has been held under house arrest since the January 14 presidential elections. On January 21, the European Union (EU) expressed concern for the continued harassment of political actors and civil society in Uganda, urging the government to respect freedom of expression and the right to peaceful and safe assembly.

01/22/2021

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UGANDAN GOVERNMENT THREATENS TO ARREST UGANDANS USING VIRTUAL PRIVATE NETWORKS

The Minister of State for Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Peter Ogwang, stated that the government is blocking all websites offering VPN services. He also warned that users using Virtual Private Networks (VPN) will be identified and could be arrested. On January 18, the government restored internet services after a shutdown that began ahead of the January 14 elections. The ban on social media, however, has remained in place with platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Skype, and Zoom all affected.

01/19/2021

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FOLLOWING MUSEVENI WIN, BOBI WINE REMAINS IN HOUSE DETENTION

After President Museveni was re-elected and declared the winner with 59% of the vote, the military surrounded the home of Bobi Wine, effectively putting him under house arrest with his wife and his 18-month year old niece. Wine claims that they have run out of food and milk. The United States Ambassador to Uganda Natalie E. Brown was blocked by security forces when she attempted to visit Wine. The opposition National Unity Platform party plans to challenge the election results.

01/18/2021

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GOVERNMENT RESTORES INTERNET AFTER 5 DAY SHUTDOWN

Following a five day shutdown of the Internet that blocked communication and digital services, authorities in Uganda restored internet connection on January 18. The shutdown affected over 17.5 million people. It is not clear whether or not internet services and social media will be shut off again. Ahead of the shutdown, President Museveni blamed Facebook, stating that due to their refusal to release pages of the President’s supporters, he was forced to shut down the Internet.

01/12/2021

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UGANDA SHUTS DOWN ALL SOCIAL MEDIA TWO DAYS BEFORE ELECTIONS

Two days before the January 14 elections, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Executive Director Irene Sewankambo has ordered telecommunications companies to suspend access to social media and online messaging platforms. This includes Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Signal, and Viber, among others. This move comes days after the UCC asked major telecommunications companies to block access to the Google Playstore, Apply AppStore, and YouTube.

01/11/2021

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UN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION URGES AUTHORITIES IN UGANDA TO ENSURE ELECTIONS ARE PEACEFUL AND TO AVOID HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) released a statement on January 8 which raised concerns over the rising number of human rights violations in Uganda ahead of the January 14 elections.

According to the UNCHR spokesperson, Ravina Shamdasani, reported human rights violations have included: violation of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and participation, arbitrary deprivation of life, arbitrary arrest and detention, and torture. She says these violations pose challenges not only on voting day, but also in the post-election period. Shamdasani also voiced concern for discriminatory Covid-19 measures being used to restrict public freedoms and political participation.

01/08/2021

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INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE REFUTES REPORTS THAT POLICE ARE TARGETING JOURNALISTS

Martin Okoth Ochola, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), has refuted reports that police are targeting journalists, claiming that security officials have been using reasonable force against the press to protect their own safety. Ochola told journalists, “We have heard complaints that security is targeting the media. On the contrary, it is the media targeting security. It is portraying security as brutal and siding with government. When we tell a journalist, don’t go there and you insist on going where there is danger, we shall beat you for your own safety.”

01/08/2021

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OPPOSITION REJECTS NEW ELECTORAL COMMISSION ORDERS

The Opposition parties have rejected new guidelines issued by the Electoral Commission on January 6 that would apply to the January 14 election. According to these guidelines, voters will not be permitted to remain at polling stations after voting nor witness vote counting. Cameras will also be banned, including for journalists, and there will be mandatory Covid-19 testing for all accessing the national tally center in Kampala. Opposition leaders have questioned the legality of these directives.

01/07/2021

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BOBI WINE PETITIONS INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT TO INVESTIGATE HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES

Opposition leader Bobi Wine has petitioned the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate President Yoweri Museveni and other senior security officials for their authorization of violence and human rights abuses leading up to the January 14 elections. The 41-page brief asks the ICC to consider events of violence from the police and military since 2018.

01/04/2021

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JOURNALISTS CONTINUE TO FACE PERILS ON VIOLENT CAMPAIGN TRAIL

As the presidential elections near, the campaign trail has entered a critical phrase and journalists specifically continue to endure its perils and costs. Since November, The Observer has recorded numerous attacks and threats against journalists covering the presidential candidates. Journalists have been intimated and arrested, faced teargas and brutality from security, and encountered threats of death.

01/04/2021

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126 BOBI WINE SUPPORTERS CHARGED WITH ASSAULTING POLICE AND INCITEMENT

Ugandan police have announced that a total of 126 people who were arrested last week in the Kalangala District where Bobi Wine had been campaigning will be charged with: assault of police officers, incitement to violence, malicious damage, doing a negligent act likely to spread an infectious disease, and inconsiderate use of a public road, among others.

01/04/2021

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EAST AFRICA LAW SOCIETY THREATENS LEGAL ACTION OVER UGANDA ELECTION VIOLENCE

Regional law forum, The East Africa Law Society (EALS), has condemned the human rights violations being committed against lawyers, journalists, political activists, and the public in relation to the upcoming election. Signed off by law society presidents from Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi, Zanzibar, and Kenya, the EALS statement threatened that court action will be taken should Ugandan officials, government leaders, and police fail to prevent further violations and violence.

12/30/2020

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Ugandan Human Rights Lawyer freed on bail after one week in detention

Prominent human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo was freed on bail on December 30 after being detained for a week in Uganda under criminal charges. Opiyo had been charged with money laundering, however Chapter Four Uganda called this charge frivolous. Opiyo is known for representing democracy activists and minority groups and is notably one of a few lawyers in Uganda to represent LGBT individuals. Critics believe Opiyo was targeted for his work tracking the abuses by security forces leading up to the January 14 election.

12/30/2020

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BOBI WINE ARRESTED FOR THIRD TIME IN TWO MONTHS AND UN EXPERTS CALL ON UGANDA TO DROP CHARGES AGAINST POLITICAL OPPONENTS

While campaigning in Uganda’s central region, presidential candidate Bobi Wine was arrested and detained for the third time in two months, along with members of his campaign team. Wine is accused of breaching a campaign ban and Covid-19 restrictions. Following the arrest, police fired tear gas at the crowd of those who were protesting. On December 29, UN human rights experts called on Uganda to end the arrests, detentions, and judicial harassments of political opponents, civil society leaders, and human rights defenders as well as to limit the excessive use of force by security personnel and to stop the election clampdown.

12/26/2020

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EC BANS CAMPAIGN MEETINGS IN KAMPALA AND 11 OTHER DISCTRICTS

Due to the surging Covid-19 infections and persistent violation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) by some political candidates, the Electoral Commission (EC) has announced that it has suspended campaign meetings in Kampala and 11 other districts and cities across Uganda. Starting December 26, 2020, the restricted districts include: Kampala, Mbarara, Kabarole, Luwero, Kasese, Masaka, Wakiso, Kabarole, Jinja, Kalungu, Kazo and Tororo.

12/22/2020

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HRW WARNS THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE IN APAA MAY BE UNABLE TO VOTE IN UPCOMING ELECTIONS

According to Human Rights Watch, thousands of people who live in the village of Apaa in Northern Uganda may not be able to vote in the January 14 elections if steps are not taken by authorities to update the voters’ register. When the Uganda Electoral Commission updated the national voters’ register between November 2019 and March 2020, it excluded Apaa. As a consequence, residents of the area who have become eligible or have wanted to register to vote since the last 2016 elections will not be able to do so. Otsieno Namwaya, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch, has said, “Anything short of the full restoration of the rights of Apaa residents to exercise their right to vote would mar the legitimacy of the forthcoming elections.”

12/19/2020

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UCC bans the broadcast of popular song Tumbiza Sound for spreading Covid-19 misinformation

After a request from the Ministry of Health, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has banned the broadcast of the song Tumbiza Sound by Eric Opaka aka EeZzy. The Ministry claims the song misinforms the public about Covid-19 and requested that the song be banned on all electronic and social media sites, including YouTube. Tumbiza Sound was released in September 2020.

12/16/2020

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UGANDAN AUTHORITIES ASK GOOGLE TO SHUT DOWN YOUTUBE VIDEO CHANNELS TO CRACK DOWN ON DISSENT AHEAD OF ELECTION

According to Quartz Africa, Ugandan authorities have written to Google, which owns YouTube, asking it to shut down 14 video channels that the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) claims are linked to the riots last month following Bobi Wine’s arrest. The channels, including Ghetto TV, KKTV, JB Muwonge, and Bobi Wine 2021, among others, have garnered collectively millions of views and are popular with young Ugandans in urban areas.

12/16/2020

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MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT SYLVIA RWABWOGO BLOCKED FROM MEETING PRESIDENT MUSEVENI AND PROTESTS FALSE COVID-19 RESULTS

Ms. Sylvia Rwabwogo, Kabarole Woman Member of Parliament, is contesting her positive Covid-19 results, arguing that it was a political move to block her from meeting President Museveni who was campaigning in Fort Portal City. Rwabwogo claims that the day health officials from State House tested her, she also took another Covid test using a different identity and these results returned negative. Rwabwogo had also booked a radio program on Voice of Toro in Fort Portal City to express her concern about the results, but when she attempted to speak, she was blocked from doing so and the radio station was switched off.

12/14/2020

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AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CALLS ON UGANDA TO STOP KILLINGS AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AHEAD OF JANUARY ELECTION

On December 14, Amnesty International urged the Ugandan authorities to take measures to immediately end the persistent human rights violations and abuses related to the upcoming election and ongoing campaigns. Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa noted that, “While it is reasonable that the Ugandan authorities, like others elsewhere around the world, should take measure to halt the further spread of COVID-19, it is apparent that in Uganda, COVID-19 regulations have been weaponized and disproportionately applied to the opposition as pretext for political repression and to restrict their activities, and their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.”

12/14/2020

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POLICE ARREST TWO NIGERIAN ARTISTS AND ORGANIZER OF A MUSIC GALA IN BREACH OF PANDEMIC MEASURES

On Saturday night, police arrested event organizer, Prim Kasana as well as Nigerian artists Stanley Omah Didia, commonly known as Omah Ley, and Temilade Openiyi, known as Tems. The three were detained and arrested in breach of standard operating procedures (SOPs) against the spread of coronavirus. Police are tracking Tems, who is still on the run. The event has triggered a debate on social media, with many accussing security agencies of double standards while enforcing SOPs. They accused police of being tough only when members of the Opposition gather while allowing members or allies of the ruling party to violate Covid-19 measures on gatherings.

12/14/2020

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HEALTH OFFICIALS AND PRESIDENT MUSEVENI BLAME PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES FOR RISING COVID INFECTIONS

Without evidence, health officials and President Museveni have begun to assert that mass rallies are contributing to rising Covid-19 infection rates, blaming in presidential candidates Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, of National Unity Platform (NUP) and Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party’s Patrick Oboi Amuriat. Last Friday, during National Thanksgiving Prayers, Museveni also accused Electoral Commission boss Justice Simon Byabakama and the Inspector General of Police of looking on while some presidential candidates continue to conduct huge rallies contrary to the COVID-19 guidelines from the Ministry of Health. Museveni is quoted as saying, “I am not happy with the Electoral Commission … and police.”

12/08/2020

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BOBI WINE CALLS ON UNITED STATES TO HOLD UGANDA ACCOUNTABLE ON HUMAN RIGHTS

In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Bobi Wine said that he has “survived two assassination attempts in the last two weeks where bullets have been shot in my car and on the tires and in the wind screens.” He also accused the military of taking over the election process, saying that his campaign team has been tear-gassed and shot at with live bullets. Wine called on the international community and the U.S. to hold Uganda’s government accountable for these abuses ahead of the elections upcoming in January. He added that young Ugandans are yearning for freedom of speech, for free expression, for human rights, and for democracy. 

12/02/2020

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ANALYSIS FINDS OPPOSITION CANDIDATES AND SUPPORTERS HAVE FACED POLICE VIOLENCE AND HARASSMENT

According to The Observer, in the first 21 days of presidential campaigns, opposition candidates and their supporters have faced harassment, beatings, and violence from armed policemen and soldiers. Candidates have also been blocked by the military from campaigning as well as blocked from TV shows, radio programs, and even staying at hotels. Publicly, security officials claim they are following COVID-19 guidelines.

12/01/2020

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AFRICAN JUDGES CRTICIZE UGANDAN SECURITY FORCES FOR DISRUPTING ELECTION PROCESS

Judges from the Africa Judges and Jurists Forum (AJJF) have criticized Ugandan security forces for disrupting the electoral process. They say police are attacking and blocking Opposition candidates on the campaign trail while favoring President Museveni. Although police flout COVID-19 guidelines, using violence to breaking up meetings of Opposition candidates, Museveni’s campaigns have continued and have not been violently dispersed. They urge that if restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 are applied to the election, they must be applied to all candidates in equal measure.

12/01/2020

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POLICE BLOCK GEN MUNTU'S CAMPAGINS IN ENTEBBE

Police blocked recent campaign meetings for Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) presidential candidate Gen. Mugisha Muntu in Entebbe. Muntu claims that the government is selectively enforcing the COVID-19 measures to block voters from accessing opposition candidates, saying that the measures have “nothing to do COVID,” but are “to deny people the information.” Muntu asked the Electoral Commission to take action against security forces who are blocking opposition campaign meetings.

11/27/2020

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Ugandans question whether Security Forces have taken over the electoral process

As the 2021 presidential election draws closer, the campaign trail has been marked with increasing violence and the presence of security forces. From being denied access to campaign venues to being thrown out of radio talk shows, opposition presidential candidates, civil society organizations, and other democracy activists have begun to question whether the security forces have taken over the electoral process from the Electoral Commission (EC).

11/27/2020

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JOURNALISTS AND BOBI WINE FORCED TO SLEEP OUTSIDE DUE TO NIGHT CURFEW RESTRICTIONS

On the night of November 27, journalists covering the campaign trail and presidential candidate Bobi Wine were denied access to hotels by police citing night curfew regulations imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Journalists slept outside in the cold, while Bobi Wine slept roadside in his car. Reports suggest that the facilities were ordered not to host the candidate and his team for the night. 

11/24/2020

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DEATH TOLL RISES DURING UNREST IN KAMPALA

According to AP News, as of November 24, 45 people have died after protests and unrest erupted in the capital of Kampala following Bobi Wine’s arrest last week. More than 800 others have been arrested or detained and the capital remains under heavy military and police presence. Security Minister Gen. Elly Tumwine has warned protesters that they will be dealt with if they continue the chaos, asserting, “I want to warn those inciting violence that they will reap what they sow.” The United Nations secretary-general has called on Ugandan authorities to ensure that the “perpetrators of human rights violation are held accountable.”

11/18/2020

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PROTESTS IN KAMPALA FOLLOWING ANOTHER BOBI WINE ARREST

After police arrested political opposition leader Bobi Wine, protests have broken out in Uganda’s capital of Kampala. Protestors have blocked roads and burned tires, leading police to fire tire gas and rubber bullets in an attempt to disperse the crowd. The protests began after Wine was arrested again, this time in Luuka, and taken to a police station in Jinja. According to New Vision, Wine has been charged with an act likely to spread infectious disease

11/15/2020

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JOURNALISTS ATTACKED AND ARRESTED COVERING 2021 ELECTION-RELATED EVENTS

Since the beginning of November, at least six journalists have been attacked, injured, and/or arrested in their reporting on events surrounding political campaigns and the upcoming 2021 election. On November 12, NBS TV reporter Daniel Lutaaya and his cameraman were attacked by an unknown group as they covered the campaign of Bobi Wine. Their laptop, camera chargers, and phones were stolen and their vehicle was vandalized. Journalists have also come under increased incidents of police brutality since Bobi Wine’s nomination, facing attacks of pepper-spray and rubber bullets.

11/04/2020

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BOBI WINE ARRESTED AFTER CONFIRMATION AS ELECTION CANDIDATE

In Kampala on November 4, Presidential Candidate Bobi Wine was pepper sprayed and arrested by police shortly after being certified as a candidate for the elections. According to the Guardian, police and army officers blocked Wine’s vehicle and footage from NTV Uganda shows them smashing the vehicle’s windows with crowbars. Bobi Wine was then taken into a police van waiting nearby. That evening, the Uganda Police Force released a statement explaining the arrest. They claimed that Wine had “plans of holding illegal processions” which the police decided to counter “due to its negative impact on the flow of traffic, public safety and public order.” At least 50 other people were also taken into custody, according to the BBC. The presidential elections are set to take place on January 14, 2021. 

11/04/2020

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STELLA NYANZI’S COMMON NUSIANCE CASE DISMISSED IN COURT

On November 4, Buganda Road Court dismissed the case of Dr. Stella Nyanzi, an anthropologist and activist, who was charged with common nuisance, along with businessmen Godfrey Katongole and Isaac Newton, in July. The prosecution had alleged that on July 8, 2020, at Nakaseero Market in Kampala, Nyanzi and others behaved in a manner causing inconvenience by carrying placards with inscriptions that said, “We are tired of lockdown and using COVID-19 to violate human rights.”

10/17/2020

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UCC LIFTS SUSPENSION ON SALE OF SIM CARDS TO COMPANIES

According to the Kampala Post, new conditions released by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) will allow telecom operators to resume selling SIM cards to corporate bodies, including firms, NGOs, ministries, departments and agencies of government, and unnatural persons. To acquire SIM cards, companies will have to verify their registration documents with the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB).

10/13/2020

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Police reinforce 9pm curfew to combat COVID-19

In Entebbe, police reinforced the 9pm nighttime curfew to combat the spread of COVID-19, forcing roadside vendors and traders to leave their stalls. 

09/18/2020

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WRITER REARRESTED BY MILITARY AFTER PUBLISHING CRITICAL BOOK

Ugandan political activist and writer Kakwenza Rukirabashaija was arrested again by the Ugandan Chieftancy of Military Intelligence (CMI) for writing critically of President Yoweri Museveni. Rukirabashaija was preparing to publish his new book, Banana Republic. He had previously been arrested in April and was detained, interrogated, and tortured for seven days over his novel, The Greedy Barbarian

09/15/2020

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HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS ESCALATE APPROACHING 2021 ELECTION

The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders in Uganda (NCHRD-U) issued a press release expressing their concern with the recent targeting of human rights defenders. The release notes increasing incidents of electoral violence, arrest of journalists, violations of freedom of expression rights, and increasing threats to women human rights defenders as well as a series of recommendations for the Uganda Police Force, Parliament, the Electoral Commission and the UCC. In July, after four months of lockdown, Daily Monitor reported a surge in reported cases of torture, killings, and abuse including gender-based violence and violence against children. This has been called the “shadow pandemic.”

09/15/2020

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Journalists and Environmental Rights Defenders Arrested and Detained

On September 15 and 16, three journalists and six environmental rights defenders were arrested, as well as two detained, in Hoima, Uganda. They were planning to call on citizens to protect the Bugoma forest, one of the country’s largest forest reserves, and denounce the human and environmental rights abuses connected to the developing oil project there. The project is being led by Total, a French multinational oil and gas company.

06/27/2020

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HUAWEI’S “SAFE CITIES” SURVEILLANCE INITIATIVE THREATENS HUMAN RIGHTS IN UGANDA

Since July 2019, the Ugandan government has been installing CCTV surveillance cameras, first in Kampala and now around the rest of the country. Huawei, a Chinese multinational technology company, has also contracted with other African governments and currently has 12 ‘Safe City’ programs throughout sub-Saharan Africa. An investigative report from the Wall Street Journal alleged that Huawei technicians helped Ugandan state officials spy on members of the political opposition, including Presidential contender Bobi Wine. Dorothy Mukasa, CEO of Unwanted Witness, has stated that “Huawei’s Safe Huawei’s Safe City initiative undoubtedly threatens human rights in Uganda, including the right to peaceful assembly and association as the country prepares for [the] 2021 general elections.”

05/18/2020

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Court Orders Release of 19 LGBTQ People Following March Shelter Raid

On May 18, 2020, a Ugandan court ordered the release of 19 LGBTQ individuals who had been arrested following a police raid on the shelter for homeless LGBTQ Youth earlier this year. They were accused of spreading Covid and charged with “a negligent act likely to spread infection of disease.” These charges have been dropped. 

04/15/2020

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Unwanted Witness Calls On Ministry of ICT to observe human rights in light of health surveillance

In a formal letter to the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology and National Guidance, civil society organization Unwanted Witness called on the government to observe transparency and privacy in contact tracing and public health COVID-19 surveillance efforts without neglecting or violating human rights. There is growing concern from civil society that the government may abuse its current digital surveillance powers to threaten rights to privacy, freedom of expression, and freedom of association.

04/05/2020

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POLICE ARREST JOURNALIST, FORCE DELETION OF CONTENT FROM CAMERA

Two weeks after the Ugandan government declared a lockdown of the country, a police officer was accused of assaulting Mr. David Musisi Karyankolo, a journalist working with Bukedde Television in Mukono. In a separate incident, police forced Mr. Henry Nsubuga, a journalist from the New Vision Group, to delete content from his camera.

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