A picture taken outside ActionAid Uganda offcies in Kansanga during the police siege. Courtesy photo

25th September, 2017

For Immediate Release

PRESS STATEMENT ON THE RAIDS AND SEIGE OF CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS NAMELY ACTION AID, SOLIDARITY UGANDA AND GREAT LAKES INITIATIVE ON STRATEGIC STUDIES (GLISS).

Background:  On Wednesday 20th September 2017, the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Uganda (NCHRD-U) received information that Uganda Police Force had raided two CSO offices Action Aid in Kansanga, GLISS in Ntinda while Solidarity Uganda in Lira was raided on Thursday morning 21st September 2017 and arrested one member of staff called Dickens Otim.

For the raids in Kampala the Police had with them search warrants issued by the Chief Magistrate Court of Makindye under section 27 and 29 of the Police Act.  Police indicated that the purpose of the search was to obtain evidence to illicit transfer of funds for funding unlawful activities.

The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders- Uganda strongly condemns the actions of the Uganda Police Force when they raided the three Organisations. We believe that there is a clear policy and regulatory framework that governs the operations of civil society organisation in Uganda and these include:

  1. The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda 1995 as amended;
  2. The Non-Governmental Organisation Act ,2016
  3. The Non –Governmental Organisation Regulations, 2017(Statutory Instrument 2017 No.22)

The above legal frame work provides a clear procedure that regulates NGO registration, monitoring and reprimand. Action Aid, Solidarity Uganda and the Great Lakes Initiative on Strategic Studies (GLISS) are legal entities governed by the above legal and policy regime. Thus as a national coalition of such civil society organisations, we were shocked and saddened by the manner in which the Police raided that did not comply with the legal provisions.

The NGO Act 2016 under Section 40 provides for offences and penalties in the event NGOs such as AAU, Solidarity Uganda and GLISS fail to adhere or are in conflict with the law. Section 41 further provides for the inspectors under the NGO Bureau to inspect the premises of an organisation and further request for any information relating to any investigations.

The Act under Section 41 (6) further provides for the time in which inspections can be carried out as ranging from 8:00am-5:00pm on working days. Further still, Regulations no.33 and 34 of the NGO Regulations, 2017 provides for an inspector who has power to access any premises, confiscate any documents including interviewing and recording statements from any person.

We wish to therefore state that in raiding the above organisations, the Police Force did not comply with the set legal standards but were rather uncivil, high handed and kept staff until the following day with the exception of a few cases which in our view was inhuman and degrading treatment.

As such, NCHRD-U wishes to appeal to the Uganda Police Force to uphold the rule of law and desist from high handed methods and uphold Article 221 of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda which calls upon all security organisations to uphold human rights. Civil society is not an enemy of the state but a partner in development.

For more information please contact:

Mr. Robert Bob Kirenga. Executive Director. National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Uganda

+256-414-286-923 [email protected]