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UN expresses concern over human rights abuses in Uganda

UN says opposition politicians have been targeted by the state

UN says opposition politicians have been targeted by the state

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed concern over what she called deteriorating human rights situation in Uganda ahead of next week's general election on January 14. 

Below is the January 8 statement issued from Geneva by spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani

We are deeply concerned by the deteriorating human rights situation in Uganda ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for 14 January and the challenges this situation may pose not only for voting day itself, but also for the post-electoral period.

In the run-up to the election, numerous human rights violations have been reported, including of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and participation, as well as arbitrary deprivation of life, arbitrary arrest and detention, and torture.

Between 18 and 20 November, at least 54 people were killed during riots and protests in at least 7 districts across the country over the arrest and detention of two opposition presidential candidates, Robert Kyagulanyi, who is also known as Bobi Wine, and Patrick Oboi Amuriat, and members of the political opposition.

Indeed, the harassment, ill-treatment, arbitrary arrests and detention of opposition candidates and supporters have been a worrying development during the electoral campaign. Kyagulanyi, the candidate of the National Unity Platform (NUP), has been blocked from holding campaign activities several times.

Among recent incidents, Oboi Amuriat, the presidential candidate of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), was arrested on 2 January as he was campaigning in Nakasongola District and released on bail later the same afternoon. Journalists covering his campaign were reportedly beaten by security forces and ordered to delete videos and photos.

In light of the Presidential Directives on COVID-19 issued on 18 March 2020 and subsequent regulations by the Ministry of Heath, the Electoral Commission of Uganda on 16 June issued a new Revised Roadmap for the 2020/2021 General Elections. The revised Roadmap provides for what are termed low-human contact elections or “scientific elections”, prohibiting mass rallies during the electoral campaigns and providing for digital electoral campaigns.

The rule was subsequently reviewed to allow campaign meetings with a maximum of 70 and later 200 people.  In a further development, on 26 December, the Electoral Commission suspended general election meetings in 16 districts that were categorised as “high, sustained and diffuse transmission districts/areas”.

Human rights law, under certain circumstances, may allow for restrictions to mass gatherings and physical campaigning for public health reasons. However, we have increasingly observed that the COVID-19 restrictions have been enforced more strictly to curtail opposition electoral campaign activities in a discriminatory fashion.

For example, on 30 December, 90 NUP supporters were arrested in Kalangala when security forces blocked a campaign event by Kyagulanyi for violating COVID measures, among other offences. 

At their court appearance, some presented injuries resulting, according to them, from torture during detention.   In contrast, police have not enforced COVID-19 restrictions in such a strict manner for electoral campaign activities by the ruling party.

Such developments increase concern that the COVID-19 measures are being used as a ground to restrict public freedoms and political participation during the electoral process. 

We are also concerned that the discriminatory enforcement of such restrictions has led to violence, arbitrary arrests and detention, and, in some instances, reports of torture and ill-treatment by security forces.

We call on the Ugandan authorities to protect the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and to ensure a free and peaceful election process that guarantees the right of the people of Uganda to participate in their country’s public affairs, including by taking measures to prevent instances of electoral violence.


+3 #1 Byamukama Patrick 2021-01-09 21:36
UN is a bunch of useless people. How many times have they noticed ugandans' rights to free and fair elections and they just end at noticing?
if you know, you know.
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+4 #2 Juwait kali 2021-01-10 05:04
M7 and co are planning a massacre definitely!!!!
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+2 #3 Zaitun 2021-01-10 18:07
This so-called UN High Commissioner for Human Rights should just shut his mouth.

These are the very guys who have caused problems in the Great Lakes Region. When this old hogg they back has ever been going around killing innocent Ugandans, have they ever bothered to bring him to book ?

Why are they barking now? Simply because their dog has overmastered them in killing tactics. You supported him to come to power when you were offering him transport to distribute arms to his rebels to kill innocent people in Luwero Triangle and yonder.

If you want Ugandans to believe what you are saying, as a body concerned with human rights, simply accept to take this man to ICC and we shall believe in you. Right now, we know you as one of his staunch friends hidding under a flow of words that are of no use.
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+4 #4 Jama 2021-01-10 22:05
Impose sanctions on those responsible for the massacre, arbitrary arrests and torture instead of lamenting.

Words will not change anything but action will .
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+1 #5 Lakwena 2021-01-11 08:31
Quoting Byamukama Patrick:
UN is a bunch of useless people. How many times have they noticed ugandans' rights to free and fair elections and they just end at noticing?
if you know, you know.

Byamukama, I am with you on this one.

Because human rights violation and crime against humanity in Africa and/or 3rd World countries is functional; therefore makes it (UN) relevant, the UN only stops at expressing concern, justifies and increases its budget.

Otherwise since the end of the 20th Century; if there were no more armed conflicts and human rights violations in Africa and other 3rd World countries, the UN would have closed shop long time ago.
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+1 #6 Lakwena 2021-01-11 08:34
The UN is like an arson starts the fire and does the fire fighting. It is always in cahoot and syndicate with our "Problem of Africa, Author and Master of Violence", like Gen Tibuhaburwa, and their silent admirer and cheer leader.

In other words, deceitful M7 functionally foments and politicize conflict and violence; and steps in to solve it, in order to justify his indispensability.
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+2 #7 Kirya 2021-01-11 19:28
Fellow Ugandans take note the battle for Uganda will be fought by Ugandans and it will start after the rigging of the election by the refuge.

Many are ready and willing to liberate and chase away the m7 family of thugs. Enough is enough. The abused and tortured are about to rise. Those who doubt our will not survive.
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