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Uganda

    March 10, 2017

    In response to today’s court ruling finding Joram Mwesigye, a senior Ugandan police officer, guilty of assaulting journalist Andrew Lwanga in January 2015, Abdullahi Halakhe, Amnesty International’s East Africa Researcher, said:

    “Today’s ruling is a rare victory for freedom of the press in Uganda. It sends a clear message that attacks on journalists must never be accepted or tolerated under any circumstances. It will hopefully assure people working in the media that the courts are watching; willing and ready to uphold their rights.

    “Press freedom has become increasingly restricted in Uganda with numerous attacks on media outlets seen as critical of the government in the past year. Today’s court decision offers a chink of light in an otherwise bleak outlook and demonstrates that the judiciary is prepared to defend freedom of expression.”

    Background

    August 08, 2016

    Reacting to threats by Uganda’s Minister of Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo that he will suppress the activities of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights activists and “rehabilitate” LGBTI people, Amnesty International said:

    “The minister’s remarks coming only a few days after police assaulted peaceful attendees at a private LGBTI Pride event in Kampala are hugely irresponsible and are tantamount to advocacy of hatred and incitement to discrimination,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “The Ugandan government should be working to bring to account those responsible for the criminal attack that left one person hospitalised with serious injuries, and dozens more injured, instead of condoning these attacks and inciting further hostility against LGBTI people.”

    Background

    In his remarks today in Kampala, Lokodo publicly backed the police raid on 4 August on a nightclub last Thursday in which LGBTI people were beaten and undressed.

    July 15, 2016

    In response to the Ugandan police beating hundreds of supporters of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party in the capital Kampala, Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said:

    “Amnesty International is appalled by the deliberate and senseless beating of unarmed opposition supporters, the latest episode in the now all too familiar and systematic pattern of police brutality in Uganda. The beating of people gathering peacefully is cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under international law, which Uganda must respect. In severe cases it may even amount to torture.”

    “The relevant authorities must immediately order an independent, impartial, efficient and transparent investigation into these incidents. Where sufficient, admissible evidence points to responsibility of individuals, including command responsibility, such persons must be prosecuted in fair trials.”

    The Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura, was quoted in the Ugandan press today as saying the beatings were justified “because when you are beaten, you don’t die.”

    May 12, 2016

    Uganda must immediately arrest Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and hand him over to the International Criminal Court (ICC), said Amnesty International today. Omar Al-Bashir, who is on the court’s wanted list, arrived in Kampala this morning to attend the inauguration of President Yoweri Museveni.

    “Uganda must face up to its international obligations and arrest Omar Al-Bashir who is wanted on charges of genocide,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “As a signatory to the Rome Statute, Uganda has an absolute obligation to surrender him to the ICC. Failure to do so would be a breach of its duty and would be a cruel betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of people killed and displaced during the Darfur conflict.”

    The situation in Darfur, Sudan, was referred to the ICC in 2005 by the UN Security Council. Arrest warrants against President Al-Bashir have been outstanding since 2009 on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Darfur from 2003 to 2008.

    May 11, 2016

    The Ugandan authorities must halt the shameful assault on human rights that has cast a stain on the country’s electoral and post-electoral period, said Amnesty International today, on the eve of President Yoweri Museveni inauguration for a fifth five-year term.

    “President Museveni’s inauguration comes amidst a crackdown on the rights to the freedoms of expression, association and assembly,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “The arbitrary detention of political opposition leaders and their supporters, the recent ban on live media coverage of opposition activities and the violent disruption of peaceful opposition gatherings in the lead up to and since election day not only violate Uganda’s own Constitution, but also fly in the face of its regional and international human rights obligations.”

    Read more:

    Uganda: Violations against opposition party impeding its efforts to contest election outcome (26 February 2016)

    May 05, 2016

    Responding to Uganda’s Minister of Information and National Guidance, Maj-Gen Jim Muhwezi’s ban on live broadcast media coverage of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change’s activities, Amnesty International issued the following quote.

    “The Ugandan government’s decision to ban live broadcast coverage of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change’s activities, although manifestly unlawful, fits the now depressingly familiar pattern of restricting freedom of expression in a bid to muzzle opposition voices,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “The ban announced by Minister Muhwezi aims to restrict completely lawful activities and this is unacceptable. It has no basis in Ugandan law, and is in blatant violation of the myriad regional and international human rights standards to which Uganda is bound.”

    For further information contact 

    Aden Seaton or Sarah French 613-744-7667 ext 263

    February 26, 2016

    The Ugandan government is continuing to violate the human rights of leaders of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) and undermining the ability of their party to legally challenge the results of the 18 February elections, said Amnesty International in a statement, as the 10-day deadline for filing presidential election petitions looms.

    Security forces have repeatedly arrested the aggrieved presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye, and some of his party leadership colleagues and supporters. They have also besieged his home, and raided the party’s main office in the capital Kampala.

    “The FDC has a legal right to challenge the election results and it must be allowed to do so,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “It is unacceptable for the government to stifle a lawfully-registered party from pursuing the only legal recourse available for it to contest the electoral outcome.”

    January 13, 2016

    (Kampala) – The Ugandan government should urgently suspend the crime preventer program ahead of the February 2016 national elections, said Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Network Uganda (HURINET-U), Chapter Four Uganda, and Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) today. Presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for February 18.

    “Crime preventers” are a volunteer force of civilians recruited and managed by police to report on and prevent crime in cooperation with the police and communities. In practice, crime preventers are strongly affiliated with the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party. Its members have acted in partisan ways and carried out brutal assaults and extortion with no accountability, the organizations said.

    December 07, 2015

    Ugandan police have arbitrarily arrested political opposition leaders and used excessive force to disperse peaceful political gatherings, hindering the ability of Ugandans to receive information and engage with politicians in the lead-up to elections, a new Amnesty International report launched in Kampala today has found.

    Based on 88 interviews including with torture victims, eyewitnesses and senior police officers, as well as analysis of video footage, the report, “We come in and disperse them”: Violations of the right to freedom of assembly by the Ugandan police, documents a range of human right violations between July and October 2015. Members of the political opposition, including their presidential candidates, have been repeatedly placed under “preventive arrest” and police have indiscriminately fired tear gas and rubber bullets at peaceful demonstrators.

    “All Ugandans must be free to attend political rallies and engage with candidates, regardless of their political affiliations,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    January 18, 2015

    The impending transfer of Dominic Ongwen, alleged former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to the International Criminal Court (ICC) is a step towards justice for the victims who have suffered brutality at the hands of the LRA for more than two decades, said Amnesty International today.

    “This is a significant development in the pursuit for justice. The LRA abducted, killed and mutilated thousands in Uganda and committed atrocities, including the use of child soldiers and sexual slavery,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa.

    “It’s been almost a decade since arrest warrants were issued against LRA leaders. The impending transfer of Dominic Ongwen to The Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes finally paves the way for survivors of LRA atrocities in northern Uganda to see justice done.”

    January 07, 2015

    Following reports that Dominic Ongwen has surrendered to the US forces, Amnesty International is calling for his immediate transfer to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face trial.

    “The people of northern Uganda have waited almost 10 years for the warrants issued by the ICC against leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army to be executed. Dominic Ongwen now needs to be held to account for the numerous charges he faces of murder, mutilation, forced recruitment of child soldiers and use of sex slaves – crimes he allegedly committed when he was a senior commander of  the LRA,” said Michelle Kagari, Deputy Regional Director for Amnesty International.

    “The remaining two warrants of arrest against other Lord Resistance Army leaders Joseph Kony and Okot Odhiambo must be expedited without delay.”

     

    Background

    October 16, 2014

    Released  08.00 BST - 16 October 2014

    Repressive and discriminatory legislation enacted over the last 18 months in Uganda has led to increasing state repression, violence and homophobic and gender-based discrimination, according to a new report published by Amnesty International today.

    “Rule by Law” – Discriminatory Legislation and Legitimized Abuses in Uganda, launching today in Uganda’s capital city Kampala, details how three pieces of legislation have violated fundamental human rights, fuelled discriminatory abuses and left individuals unable to seek justice.

    “Repression in Uganda is increasingly state sanctioned through the use of blatantly discriminatory legislation that erodes rights guaranteed in the country’s Constitution,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa.  

    “The government must act now to revise these toxic laws, which threaten the core of human rights in Uganda.”

    August 01, 2014

    The striking-down of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act is a step towards stopping state-sponsored discrimination in its tracks, said Amnesty International.

    “Even though Uganda’s abominable Anti-Homosexuality Act was scrapped on the basis of a technicality, it is a significant victory for Ugandan activists who have campaigned against this law. Since it was first being floated in 2009, these activists have often put their safety on the line to ensure that Ugandan law upholds human rights principles,” said Sarah Jackson, Africa Deputy Regional Director at Amnesty International.

    “We now hope that this step forward translates into real improvements in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people in Uganda, who have been trapped in a vicious circle of discrimination, threats, abuse and injustice for too long.”

    Since Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act came into force in March 2014, Amnesty International documented a sharp increase in arbitrary arrests, police abuse and extortion against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people.

    Many lost their jobs, were left homeless or were effectively forced to flee the country.

    May 15, 2014

    Released: 5:00 am BST, May 15, 2014

    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people in Uganda have reported a surge in human rights violations since the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act on December 20, 2013, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today.

    February 24, 2014

    President Museveni has just signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law. It is a draconian and damaging piece of legislation, Amnesty International said today.

    SHOW YOUR SOLIDARITY with Uganda’s LGBTI community

    This note sent to Amnesty International in January 2014 by a Ugandan LGBTI activist shows just how much our solidarity means to activists in Uganda.

    "The solidarity cards were amazing. I cried for a while when I received them. When I suggested the solidarity cards for the lgbt community, I didn't know the impact they would have.

    Public statements have great impact, but personal messages provide us as individuals with strength to keep you going . The timing couldn't have been better. Thank you. Really, thank you."
     

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