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UN experts urge Uganda to repeal new public assembly restrictions

Independent UN experts on Friday called for the repeal of recently passed legislation in Uganda limiting the size of public demonstrations. Known as the Public Order Management Bill, passed on Tuesday [JURIST report], Uganda now prohibits protests [UN press release] of more than three people without prior police authorization. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya [official website], expressed her disapproval of the law, claiming its purpose is directly aimed at suppressing the freedom of assembly. The UN has asked Uganda to reform its legal code to conform with international human rights obligations. In addition to the public assembly restrictions, the law also permits security forces to use weapons when patrolling public events [UPI report].

Uganda [JURIST news archive] has drawn much international criticism in recent years regarding alleged human rights violations and treatment of those who are deemed to be government opposition. In August of last year Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] that the government of Uganda was harassing and intimidating rights groups and other non-government organizations (NGOs). Earlier in June Uganda's government banned 38 NGOs accused of promoting gay rights [JURIST report]. Also in June UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] warned [JURIST report] that the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) opposition group still poses a threat to children in Uganda. In May 2011 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] urged [JURIST report] Uganda's government to stop using what she called excessive force against protesters in the country.

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