UN Warns Uganda Over Opposition Arrests


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link geneva;”>UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mrs. Margret Sekaggya noted with concern today, Friday, that government had tried without success to contain the negative traits of corruption, and resorted to clumping down those that come out to speak against such practices.

“Most research has proven without doubt that corruption is the biggest threat to development of countries like Uganda. The public reached a point of losing trust in the government. When People come out to express their frustration, security agencies come down hard on them with physical assaults, harassment while others are killed,” she noted.

Sekaggya then went on, “Those that survive are stigmatised by government propagandists, depicted in the face of the public as development saboteurs, terrorists, so as to frustrate their efforts”.

Mrs Sekaggya was speaking at a national dialogue organised by the Anti-Corruption Coalition that sought to brainstorm on the ways of protecting human rights defenders at hotel Africana in Kampala.

She pointed out that all these actions were in spite of the fact that the country was signatory to major international human rights treaties including the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders which spells out state obligations that include ensuring that defenders of human rights are free from harm and impediment.

Though Uganda is still a developing country, it ought to pick a lesson from key developed countries’ best practices, as far as protecting human rights defenders is concerned.

“Countries like Guatemala and Brazil have greatly excelled in such practices,” she added.

Police accuse opposition activists of flouting the Public Order Management Act guidelines in convening rallies.

It has also blamed some activists of inciting violence and disrupting businesses in downtown Kampala.

Sekaggya also called upon government to take up training programs for its security agencies like Uganda police and the national army, when it comes to such matters as how peaceful demonstrators ought to be handled.

In his Speech at the event, Ethics and integrity minister Hon. Simon Lokodo, acknowledged the fact that government severally went overboard in mistreating these activists.

Lokodo pledged to forward the UN envoy’s views to the government’s forthcoming Inter-Agency Forum which brings together various government bodies.

This warning comes at a time when police has been arresting, detaining, releasing, and then re-arresting opposition Former FDC president Kiiza Besigye and Kampala city Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago.

Their arrest sparked off protests in most parts of Kampala parlaysing business activities.

The two have spent the biggest part of the week either in jail or court or in police vans being driven around from one detention to another.

It was only at the request of the speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga who cited that the act of keeping the two in jail for over 72 hours was unconstitutional, that was when Besigye and Lukwago were at last produced in court.

At Buganda road court, they were charged with holding an unlawful assembly and released on a non-cash bail of Shs 40 million.


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