Annual Report: Uganda 2013

May 29, 2013

Annual Report: Uganda 2013

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Head of state and government Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

Restrictions on freedoms of expression and association continued. LGBTI people continued to face harassment. Police and other law enforcement officials continued to commit human rights violations, including torture, and perpetrators were not held to account.


The government accepted recommendations on the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and non-discrimination in February during the assessment of the country's human rights record under the UN Universal Periodic Review in 2011.

The courts nullified constituency election results from 2011 which led to by-elections. Opposition parties subsequently won seven out of the nine seats contested.

Allegations of embezzlement within the Office of the Prime Minister led the UK, Sweden and Denmark to withhold aid money. Ministers charged in connection with allegations of embezzlement of public funds intended for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2007 were acquitted.

Freedom of expression

Journalists, opposition leaders and activists critical of the authorities continued to face intimidation, harassment, arbitrary arrest and trumped-up charges. At least 70 journalists reported physical attacks and arbitrary detention during the year.

  • Police harassed, beat and damaged equipment of journalists Isaac Kasamani and William Ntege while they filmed the arrest of Dr Kizza Besigye, leader of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), in September.

The government body regulating the mass media, the Ugandan Media Council (UMC), banned the staging of two plays in theatres. When one of them, The River and the Mountain, was informally staged in other areas in September, its co-producer, David Cecil, was arrested. He was charged with “disobeying an order by a public official” and released on bail. It was strongly suspected that the play was banned because the authorities believed it promoted homosexuality. Another play, State of the Nation, which was critical of the government's stance on corruption and poor governance issues, was banned in October. The producers subsequently staged the play twice and no further action was taken against them.

Freedom of assembly and association

The Attorney General declared the pressure group Activists for Change (A4C) an unlawful society and banned it in April. The group had resumed demonstrations which began in 2011 against the rising cost of living, corruption and poor governance, and which were violently suppressed by the police. The declaration was inconsistent with respect for the rights of freedom of assembly, speech and association.

In October, the authorities banned demonstrations ahead of Uganda's 50th anniversary of independence, and dispersed marches organized by the group For God and My Country (4GC) to demand investigations into the killings of protesters in 2011. Dr Kizza Besigye, leader of the FDC, was arbitrarily arrested twice and released without charge. Police justified the restrictions on the grounds that 4GC comprised many of the same people as the banned group A4C.

Government targeted advocacy NGOs and activists with dissenting views on oil governance, land, corruption and human rights for intimidation, harassment, surveillance and obstruction. Offices of some NGOs were reportedly broken into and equipment stolen and police searched and confiscated equipment of some NGOs.

Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people

The 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill was reintroduced before Parliament in February, but was not debated pending a report by the Parliamentary and Legal Affairs Committee. In October, the Speaker of Parliament stated that the Bill would “soon” be debated. If passed, it would further entrench discrimination against LGBTI people and lead to other human rights violations.