Joint Statement: Grave concern over recent raids on Ugandan civil society groups

We, the undersigned civil society organisations (CSOs), strongly condemn the Ugandan authorities’ flagrant and repeated attempts to suppress the peaceful and legitimate activities of civil society organisations in Uganda through the recent unwarranted raids on the offices of four independent CSOs. We urge the Government of Uganda to end its campaign to silence independent civil society groups and publicly recognise the indispensable role that civil society plays in promoting and protecting fundamental human rights.

In the last two weeks, the Ugandan Police and Security Services have raided and searched the offices and documentation of four prominent organisations, including ActionAid Uganda, Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies, Solidarity Uganda and the UHURU Institute.

Initially on 20 September 2017, nearly two dozen police and state security officials cordoned off and entered the ActionAid Uganda offices in Kansanga, Kampala. Police served a warrant alleging that ActionAid is involved in unnamed illicit activities. Upwards of 25 staff members were held in the office for several hours, while police interrogated staff, searched the premises and confiscated organisational laptops, phones and documents. On the same day, the offices of the Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies were raided and police prevented staff from leaving the premises.  On 21 September, the police raided the offices of Solidarity Uganda in Lira and detained a member of staff. 

Most recently, on 2 October 2017, police raided the offices of the UHURU Institute. During the raid, they cordoned off the premises and confiscated computers and phones belonging to staff of the Institute. 

The explicit reason for the raids has not been disclosed, and we remain deeply concerned that they are part of a wider crackdown to silence a civil society campaign which opposed a parliamentary proposal to remove presidential age limits. The organisations targeted in recent raids supported civil society in expressing concerns over the removal of age limits for the presidency and have called for the constitution to be respected. 

The authorities’ attempts to suppress the work of Ugandan civil society through harassment and intimidation represent a clear violation of fundamental civic rights and casts severe doubt over the Government’s commitment to supporting civil society. As allies and supporters of Uganda human rights we urge the authorities to immediately end its campaign to persecute CSOs in the country and their staff. 

  • ARTICLE 19 – Eastern Africa
  • Afro Leadership – Cameroon
  • Brainforest Gabon
  • Campaign for Good Governance – Sierra Leone
  • CIVICUS
  • Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, Malawi
  • DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
  • Dynamique OSCAF Gabon
  • Frontline Defenders
  • Greenpeace Africa
  • Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA)
  • The International Civil Society Centre
  • JOINT - League of NGOs in Mozambique
  • KEPA – Finland
  • Mauritius Council for Social Services
  • Nigerian Network of NGOs
  • Orhionmwon Youth Forum Nigeria
  • Réseau Ouest Africain des Défenseurs des Droits Humain
  • Solidarity Center
  • Zambian Council for Social Development

David Kode

Advocacy and Campaigns Lead, CIVICUS,

Tel: + 27 (0)11 833 5959.

 

Grant Clark

CIVICUS Media Advisor

 

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