Government has Tuesday crossly responded to a report by the international human rights body Human Rights Watch [HRW], regarding The Non-Governmental Organizations Bill which is slated to be debated in Parliament.
The bill seeks to regulate non-governmental organizations, and streamline their work in the country.
Once passed, the bill would grant the internal affairs minister and the National Board for Non-governmental Organizations powers to supervise, approve, inspect, and dissolve all NGOs and community based organizations, and would impose severe criminal penalties for violations.
The Rights body came out yesterday and condemned the Bill saying it would interfere with the works of the NGOs.
HRW went on to interpret the bill as meant to silence the only peaceful government critics.
“If this bill is passed in its current form, it will obstruct the ability of all Ugandans to work collectively through local and international organizations on any research or advocacy that may be deemed critical of the government,” said Nicholas Opiyo, executive director of Chapter Four Uganda,” they said.
Government today expressed disappointment with the HRW’s response to the Bill, and accused the body or critiquing rather than helping enhance the bill.
“Apart from the criticism from HRW, government would appreciate helpful comments to improve the Bill,” noted government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo.
“Let Human Rights Watch write specific proposals either to the minister before the Bill is taken to the committee of parliament. NGOs including HRW should not pretend to be the only guarantors of the rights of Ugandans.”
Mr Ondondo stated that Uganda needed the law revised and strengthened to protect the public especially because of the changing times of criminality.
“Some NGOs have been found to be involved in extortion of money from the public, financial fraud, money laundering and human trafficking especially of vulnerable children,” he added.
“That responsibility and obligations rests with the government of Uganda. NGOs do not enjoy diplomatic immunity, and thus are subject to written down rules and regulations.”