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11 Female Opposition Lawmakers Arrested in Uganda

Police officers disperse female opposition lawmakers as they attempt to deliver a petition to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in Kampala, Uganda, April 27, 2023.

Eleven female opposition lawmakers have been arrested in Uganda during a protest over what they allege is police brutality.

Dressed in black, the legislators took to the streets Thursday morning to voice their dissatisfaction over what they are calling a violation of the rights of women and a threat to their lives, which they say also violates the Constitution.

Scuffles erupted between the women and police as the legislators tried to make their way to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

One of the lawmakers, Joyce Bagala, detailed some of the women’s grievances. She said that during a recent Women’s Day event, one of her colleagues was roughed up by police.

“Susan Mugabi was beaten, was tear-gassed,” she said. “There were bullets fired. Her sister was beaten, fondled by police officers. Almost undressed her. Her mother was also arrested ahead of the celebrations. Her father was locked in the house. So, all these violations.”

Bagala also said she herself was tear-gassed and blocked from holding Women’s Day celebrations in her constituency.

Police officials were not readily available for comment. They were meeting with the speaker of parliament at the central police station where the legislators were being held.

The female opposition legislators are asking for parliament and the internal affairs ministry to acknowledge that the actions of security officers in blocking Women’s Day celebrations were illegal, irrational and an affront to the right to associate and assemble.

They also want all local district authorities involved in the assault on the legislators to be individually prosecuted before courts of law and security agencies to be restrained from blocking any other meeting or assembly permitted by law.