On Eve of Museveni Inauguration, Human Rights Situation in Uganda Grave | Freedom House

On Eve of Museveni Inauguration, Human Rights Situation in Uganda Grave

Washington

As Uganda prepares to inaugurate Yoweri Museveni, its president of twenty-five years, to yet another term tomorrow, the human rights situation in Uganda grows increasingly grave. The revival of the odious anti-homosexual bill and the recent brutal crackdown on civilians, journalists and political opposition have further eroded political rights and civil liberties in a country that already lacks genuine political competition, according to Freedom House.
 
At least ten people have been killed and hundreds injured in Uganda as security forces have responded to widespread protests against rising food and fuel prices with tear gas and live ammunition. Opposition leader Kizza Besigye, who has been arrested four times since the protests began, was barred from a flight to Uganda today as he attempted to return from Kenya where he had received medical treatment for injuries stemming from his April 28 arrest. According to the airline, he has been issued a ticket to return to Uganda this evening. Also yesterday, Democratic Party leader Norbert Mao and others were drenched by authorities in an unknown pink fluid and subsequently arrested while attempting to demonstrate.
 
“The deteriorating situation in Uganda in recent weeks is deplorable. With the harsh crackdown on media and political opposition, violent attempts to prevent citizens from exercising their legitimate right to speak out about injustices, and the resurgence of dangerous anti-homosexual legislation, the rights of Ugandans are being squeezed from every direction,” said Paula Schriefer, Freedom House director of advocacy.“Tomorrow’s inauguration of a leader who has shown increasingly authoritarian tendencies will undoubtedly lead to more demonstrations and we call on Ugandan authorities to respect the fundamental rights of its citizens to express views peacefully without interference.”
 
It has been reported that President Yoweri Museveni is considering a new law to deny bail for six months to those arrested while protesting. Journalists have been prohibited from entering hospitals and other areas where the major clashes are taking place, preventing an accurate count on those dead and injured. Uganda was also recently criticized for prosecuting critical journalists under accusations such as treason or spreading false news, and a joint freedom of expression mission last September found that violence against journalists and impunity issues severely challenged the space for free expression.
 
Additionally, a bill that received global condemnation for provisions that criminalize homosexuality and mandate the death penalty may reportedly come before Uganda’s parliament for a vote on Friday. Although recent reports suggest the death penalty clause may have been removed, the bill remains problematic.
 
“The passage of the anti-homosexual legislation will have devastating consequences not only for Uganda’s LGBTI community, but for the country’s reputation as a rights respecting country around the world,” continued Schriefer.  “It simply shocks the conscience that such a blatantly discriminatory and vicious piece of legislation could even be considered, let alone adopted, in the 21st century.”
 
Uganda is ranked Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2011, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2010.
 
For more information on Uganda, visit:
 
 
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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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