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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid