[JURIST] The government of Uganda is harassing and intimidating rights groups and other non-government organizations (NGOs), Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [text] Tuesday. The report, entitled “Curtailing Criticism: Intimidation and Obstruction of Civil Society in Uganda,” documents the ways in which the administration of President Yoweri Museveni [BBC profile] has been cracking down on dissent. According to the report, Museveni’s administration has been targeting NGOs that advocate for political, financial and environmental reforms, as well as activists who promote the rights of Uganda’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. HRW contends in the report that these groups are targets of harassment and intimidation because they threaten the social and political interests of Museveni’s administration:
Civil society actors working on governance, human rights, land, oil, and other sensitive issues are the main targets of these attacks, apparently because they are viewed as threatening to undermine the regime’s political and financial interests. At the same time the government’s hostility to, and harassment of, Uganda’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender … community and its leadership continues unabated. Government officials demonizing homosexuality are targeting a vulnerable community and deliberately misinforming the public, stirring hatred and diverting foreign donor attention from deeply-rooted governance problems and growing domestic frustration with President Museveni and his party’s patronage politics.
The report also urges the government of Uganda to ensure that human rights, such as freedom of speech and assembly, are protected.
Uganda [JURIST news archive] has drawn international criticism lately regarding its human rights record. In June Uganda’s government banned 38 NGOs accused of promoting gay rights [JURIST report]. Earlier in June UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] warned [JURIST report] that the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] still poses a threat to children in Uganda. In March Uganda opposition leader Kizza Besigye [JURIST news archive] Besigye’s last prosecution gained international attention. He was arrested in 2011 [JURIST report] for his involvement in the “Walk to Work” protests. Earlier that year, 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 Besigye and other protesters. Besigye is the leader of Uganda’s most prominent opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change [party website].