News / Africa

HRW Report: Ugandan Civil Society Under Attack

Threats and intimidation of civil society groups is on the rise in Uganda, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch.  

The Ugandan government has been stepping up harassment of non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.  The watchdog group claims organizations dealing with governance, land rights, oil and homosexual rights are increasingly under attack by Ugandan officials.

The report, called “Curtailing Criticism: Intimidation and Obstruction of Civil Society in Uganda,” says the government’s rhetoric toward NGOs has grown more hostile during  the past year, accompanied by threats, harassment of individuals and the arbitrary closure of meetings.

Maria Burnett of Human Rights Watch says since the presidential elections last year, the Ugandan government has put more effort into curtailing access to information.

“Our sense is that the government’s concern over the role of those independent journalists and civil society has sort of changed over time, as the government has become increasingly paranoid about the president’s ability to stay in power in the long term, and about other criticisms of long-term governance issues, including concerns about corruption, financial mismanagement and inflation,” she said.

The administration of President Yoweri Museveni has been under increasing pressure at home and abroad.  

Government spokesman Fred Opolot insists the administration is not hostile toward civil society and it has been instrumental in opening the country to NGOs.

“There are a multiplicity of NGOs operating in this country since 1986," he said.  "Most of them are actually embedded within government departments, and it is in the realization that NGOs can actually complement government work.  So it would be foolhardy for government to, all of a sudden, target these NGOs, most of which are doing a good job.”

But Human Rights Watch says many groups considered threatening to the administration’s political or financial interests have found themselves under attack.  

One label the government is fond of using, says Burnett, is “economic saboteur.”

“We have seen that term get thrown around a lot over the last couple of years, also leveled at journalists," she said.  "There is this sense in civil society that if you push back on government programs, that you are somehow deemed an economic saboteur of government programs, or deemed anti-development.”

Human Rights Watch reports the government has also stepped up its persecution of groups promoting homosexual rights.  In June the government threatened to deregister any NGO advocating homosexual rights.

Burnett says that while such moves are an easy way to drum up popular support in Uganda, they also distract international donors from other issues, such as poor governance.

“There is a sort of facile public reaction to the issue of the rights of homosexuals," she said.  "But at the same time, it has also been a quite strong issue for the Ugandan government to use against the international community.  It has been a diversionary tool, which has kept the diplomats very occupied.”

Although a number of NGOs are still openly critical of the Ugandan government, the report found many are censoring their own activities to protect their staff.

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid