Uganda intimidating rights groups - HRW

2012-08-22 07:47

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kampala - Rights groups in Uganda are facing increased harassment and intimidation from government officials, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Tuesday.

The New York-based HRW said in a report that rising hostility from the government was making it difficult for civil society groups to freely conduct their work.

President Yoweri Museveni, widely expected to seek a fifth term in office in 2016, has often criticised non-governmental organisations, accusing them of sabotaging government projects and representing the interests of foreign governments.

A government spokesperson rejected the HRW accusations.

HRW cited closure of meetings, reprimands, demands for apologies or retractions, threats, harassment and physical violence as some to the tactics officials have used to obstruct the work of civil society groups.

"Civil society actors working on governance, human rights, land, oil, and other sensitive issues are the main targets of these attacks, apparently because they are viewed as threatening to undermine the regime's political and financial interests," HRW said.


The east African country discovered commercial crude oil deposits in the Lake Albert region in its west along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2006 and the ministry of energy estimates reserves at 2.5 billion barrels.

UK explorer Tullow Oil says first oil from its Uganda project is still more than three years away.

Fred Opolot, executive director of Uganda government's media centre, said HRW's accusations were unfounded.
"I have not read the report but their accusations are utterly false and unfounded. Uganda has an open door policy for civil society as long as they do the right things," he said.

"We don't stand in the way of any NGO and we have thousands of NGOs doing their work. Some of these outrageous reports serve a purpose, HRW wants to justify its budgets to its donors."

Tensions rising

In May Uganda accused British charity Oxfam of bringing disrepute to Museveni after it published a report detailing extensive land grabs by the government in alliance with a foreign company.

The government threatened to eject the charity from the country unless it retracted its accusations and apologised.

The report said for instance, researchers from groups seeking to visit regions with oil deposits were required to seek permission from the Ministry of Energy, a condition HRW said was unlawful and impeded their access to local communities that could be harmed by oil production activity.

The report also said groups promoting gay and lesbian rights were being forced to work underground because criminalisation of homosexuality in Uganda prevented them from registering with the authorities and functioning legally.

An anti-gay legislation which advocated for death penalty for some offenders and first introduced in Uganda's parliament in 2009 provoked fierce international condemnation and has pitted conservative religious groups in Uganda against donors.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    hrw  |  uganda publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

'England can't afford me', jokes Gatland
Boot boys Biggar, Foley set for showdown
Wales seek to end woeful Wallaby run
De Allende's star burns bright
Traffic Alerts

It is always easier to notice the faults in others rather than face our own. Focusing too much on the perfect and ideal more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.