Civil society seeks interpretation of cases of MPs charged with treason

By Robert Segawa

The constitutional court is hearing a petition filed by human rights and civil society seeking an interpretation of actions of the state that denied Ugandans their political will.

The case challenges charging political figures with treason and terrorism.

This comes after Kyadondo East Member of parliament Robert Kyagulanyi and 35 others were charged with treason and terrorism after they expressed their independent political opinions in the Arua by election.

The executive director foundation for human right initiative Livingston Sewanyana says Ugandans have freedom to express their political opinion should not be violated hence the need for court to pronounce it’s in the legality of the action.

Civil society backs government on merging commissions and agencies

By Daudi Zirimala

The Civil society organizations in the country have welcomed government decision to merge agencies and commissions saying this will save 2.2 trillion shilling meant to facilitate these agencies.

According to the executive director of civil society budget advocacy Group (CSBAG) Julius Mukunda, government should provide a strong road map on how restructuring is to be implemented, timelines detailing the activities to be undertaken in rationalizing the agencies, commissions and Authorities.

Mukunda says that a task force should be put in place to oversee the implementation on this rationalization process with clear terms of references and educate the public about the importance of merging these agencies.

He  worries that government has not provided any anticipated consequences and their management to reduce the risks involved in the process for example unemployment levels to be caused, variations in performances expected to stem from the rationalization.

Civil society urged to strengthen digital departments

By Edwin Muhumuza

Civil Society Organizations are rooting for the strengthening of cyber security in a bid to safe guard them- selves from attackers.

Executive Director, Defenders Protection Initiative, Yona Wanjala, said that non-governmental organizations around the world have been a target by state agencies accusing them of terrorism and money laundering a move they say has been as a result of cyber -attacks.

His remarks came during a digital security conference, at the Kampala Serena Hotel ,that brought together several organizations with aim of ensuring digital safety as they run their operations in the country.

NGO Forum Executive Director Richard Ssewakiryanga says work done by non-governmental organizations is too sensitive and therefore the need for digital security to safe guard it.

He adds that there has been break-ins where computers have been stolen leaving the fate of some organizations uncertain, and therefore the need for them(CSO’s) to increase budgets to prioritize Information Communication Technology.

Over the past five years there has been a wave of break-ins into the premises of non-governmental organizations, mostly those specializing in protecting human rights.

Despite the Uganda Police Force saying it has commissioned investigations into most of the incidents, the leaders of the affected organizations say there has hardly been any progress on this front, and not a single report detailing the progress of investigations has been issued.

They accuse the police and the government of being insensitive to the plight of civil society organizations at best, and at worst they say the State could be complicit in the break-ins. The police deny the accusations and say they are actively working to remedy the situation.

Civil society organizations vow to block scraping of the age limit discussion

By Wasswa Deo

Members of Civil society say they  will do whatever it takes to block President Museveni and some NRM members of parliament  from  passing  the bill that intends to scrape away the presidential Age limit.

Crispy Kaheru, the national coordinator of Citizens coalition on electoral democracy Uganda, says once this article is scraped, the country’s constitution will remain useless.

He says the civil society is set to begin a citywide mobilization to ensure Ugandans put pressure to members of parliament to confirm that this move does not see light on the floor of parliament.

Sources reveal that the 2017 bill that seeks to amend the constitution to remove the Article 102, shall be published in the Uganda gazette in a few weeks’ time before it can come to parliament for debate.

Civil society organizations deman that legislators investigate Nalufenya incident

By Wasswa Deo

Uganda Coalition Against Torture   has come out to demands that Uganda prisons services reject all suspects tortured prior to remand.

According to the  statement released in reaction to the inhumane torture of 13 men formally detained at Nalufenya police station. The 13 suspects were  implicated in the murder of AIGP Andrew Felix Kawesi, and his driver Godfrey Wambewo and body guard Kenneth Erau.

According to Muhammad Ndifuna the executive director of human rights network, Ugandans are losing hope in the ability by their government to protect them from acts of torture by security operatives.

Among others demands mentioned in the statement,  the Human rights committee of the parliament should conduct an investigation into the allegations of torture and specifically at Nalufenya,  Uganda government  should ratify the optional protocol; to the convention against Torture (OPCAT 2006) to allow free and unlimited access to all detention facilities in the country for inspection by Human rights bodies.

Government and civil society launch tax campaign.

By Wasswa Deo

In an effort to increase the country’s tax base, government and civil society organizations have embarked on a campaign to educate local communities about the importance of paying taxes.

The campaign spearhead by Action Aid Uganda and SEATINI has kick-started in West Nile district of Nebbi owning to the fact they realize low tax revenue.

According to Okumu Robert district chairperson in Nebbi district, local revenue target has reduced because disposal assets have not been included as source of revenue.

In last financial year, in Nebbi district local revenue contributed only 0.05% due to poor collection.

Figures in Nebbi show that in the next financial year, the district expects to receive 28.254 billion Uganda shillings of which local revenue shall contribute 2.6%, discretionary transfer will contribute 23%, conditional grant transfers shall contribute 69%, other government transfers is expected to contribute 3.5% and donor contribution is 1.5%.


Government hid behind National security to violate freedom of expression- Activist

Civil society activists want government to apply for a judicial review before ordering a social media shutdown. Uganda Communications Commission-UCC ordered a social media shutdown during the February 18th polls and during the swearing in of president, Yoweri Museveni on May 12th.

However, Sarah Kihika, a Human Rights Activists wants government to seek a judicial review before ordering the social media shut down. According to Kihika, court should be able to weigh in the evidence of the eminent threat to national security and need to shut down any form of media before violating the rights to freedom of expression and information.

Nicholas Opiyo, a Human Rights lawyer accuses Government of hiding behind national security to violate the rights to freedom of expression and information. He says the arbitrary closure of the media is unfair to millions of social media users across the country.
Speaking at the meeting convened by Chapter Four at its offices in Kololo on Monday, Michael Niyitegeka, an IT consultant said Government should come up with better ways to regulate social media other than blocking the entire platform and cut out Uganda from the rest of the world.

He says there are software applications that can enable Government truck individual users and restrict the activities of those deemed to be a threat. Timothy Kalyegira, a media practitioner called for self-regulation by social media users, adding that many people post irrational issues.

Fred Otunnu, the Director Corporate Affairs Uganda Communications Commissions, which mandated to regulate and control communications, says although the right to use media is essential, there is need for regulation. He defended the recent social media shut down, saying they acted on security warnings.

Christine Nanding, the Deputy Director Human Rights and Legal Services in Uganda Police, advised those offended by Governments actions to seek legal redress instead of inciting violence.