Uganda: We call on the authorities to respect human rights and uphold the Constitution ahead of the January 2021 elections and beyond.
- We are deeply alarmed by the rapid shrinking of civic, democratic, and civil society space in Uganda ahead of the January 2021 elections.
- We call on the authorities in Uganda to exercise self-restrain, respect human life and uphold its own constitution, as well as observe its regional and international obligations as mandated under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
- The arbitrary arrest of Advocate Nicholas Opiyo and other frontline human rights defenders on December 23; reports of deadly violence against journalists and members of the opposition such as Hon. Kyagulanyi who has allegedly been recently arrested in Kalangala and whisked away by Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces soldiers. These in some instances seem to be acts of targeted assassinations; and the continued harassment of opposition political leaders does not bode well for a democratic society.
- Should Uganda continue on its current trajectory, it risks permanently sliding into an outpost of tyranny, and a de facto one-party state.
- The Ugandan government must immediately refrain from harassing civil society organizations and members of opposition parties, their leaders and supporters and ensure the fundamental rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly are guaranteed during this crucial pre-election period and beyond.
- The government must also independently and thoroughly investigate all cases of pre-election violence, including the deadly shootings of journalists and opposition party members, as well as the excessive use of force against unarmed civilians by state security agents, which have thus far resulted in multiple losses of life and severe injuries.
- We encourage the Uganda Electoral Commission to be a neutral referee and ensure that the playing field is even, and those advocating for and executing a terror campaign against the opposition parties and ordinary citizens exercising their constitutional rights to participate in the electoral process, must be held accountable.
- The hallmark of a democratic society is inter alia conduct of a credible, free and fair election characterized by procedural certainty and outcome uncertainty, that is the election results should not be predetermined.
- Finally, we strongly urge the regional bodies, including the Africa Union and East African Community to urgently intervene to address the deteriorating political situation in Uganda. Failure to act at this juncture, risks not only the lives of many more Ugandans, but undermines the collective stability of the region.
ISSUED BY SOUTHERN AFRICAN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS NETWORK AND PAN AFRICA HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS NETWORK AND ENDORSED BY THE FOLLOWING ORGANISATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS:
- Abahlali Basemjoldolo Movement – South Africa
- Amalgamated Rural Teacher Union of Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe
- Center for Democracy and Development- Mozambique
- Chapter One Foundation – Zambia
- DITSHWANELO- The Botswana Center for Human Rights- Botswana
- Human Rights Institute of South Africa – South Africa
- Mozambique Human Rights Defenders Network – Mozambique
- Panos Institute Southern Africa – South Africa
- Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa – South Africa
- Zambia Council for Social Development – Zambia
- Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum – Zimbabwe
- Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights- Zimbabwe
- Alice Mogwe
- Adriano Nuvunga
- Arnold Tsunga
- Corlett Letlojane
- Charles Chimedza
- Constance Mukarati
- Muzi Masuku
- Makanatsa Makonese.
- Mary Pias Da Silva
- Norman Tjombe
- Nikiwe Kaunda
- Tatenda Mazarura
- Washington Katema