15 Jan 2021. Uganda: Uganda Authorities Must Release 26 Civil Society Members Arrested for Observing Elections
The African Elections Watch continues to call for the release of 26 members of the civil society group, including data entry clerks who were arrested by Uganda Police and detained at the Kibuli Police Station which is also the Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Crime Intelligence (CID) Headquarters in Kampala.
The 26 were arrested at a civil society data collection and election observation centre in Kampala on the election’s day on claims by the Electoral Commission that the observation centre was an illegal tallying centre.
This is an attempt by Uganda authorities to avoid scrutiny by independent election observer groups and continue to repress those exercising their rights to freedom of information and expression. Election observation is not a crime.
It is preposterous that security authorities would arrest heads of organisations, their staff and university students who were doing a legitimate duty and running an information centre at a time when authorities have shut down internet, social media networks and different pro regime groups have been sending propaganda and disinformation on the conduct of the elections. This is also while there are emerging concerns form party agents that they have been denied access to tallying information, including access to the results being transmitted.
The action undertaken by the authorities in Uganda and especially on the date of election is tantamount to reducing avenues for civic organizing, access to information, the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and participation in public affairs, and greatly impedes on the spirit of democratic, free and fair elections.
It is in every right of all Ugandans to follow the conduct of elections without intimidation from the state.
- We call on the immediate and unconditional release of the 26 members of civil society organisations. Detaining people without bringing any legitimate charges against them is in violation of national and international law.
- We continue to demand the withdrawal security forces, especially the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF), Uganda Police, local defence unit (LDU), state sponsored militia and other security forces from actively interfering with the conduct of the elections but instead offer security to all Ugandans.
- The Electoral Commission and other state authorities must allow independent electoral observation missions to observe the presidential and parliamentary elections including by monitoring human rights as a key part of their brief and by raising issues of elections misconduct and human rights violations.
- Uganda security apparatus and the Electoral Commission must be responsible and accountable for all the cases electoral misconduct and human rights violations.
- Constitution Reform and Education Consortium – CRECO
- Defenders Coalition (formerly National Coalition on Human Rights Defender – Kenya) East Africa Civil Society Forum – EASCOF
- Elections Observation Group (Kenya) – ELOG
- Haki Africa
- ICJ – Kenya
- Independent Medico Legal Unit – IMLU
- Inuka Ni SiSi Kenya
- Journalists for Justice
- Kenya Human Rights Commission
- Muslims for Human Rights – MUHURI
- Pan African Lawyers Union – PALU
- Police Reforms Working Group
- Social Justice Working Group
- The Orature Collective
Names of the 26 CSO observers DETAINED by the police in Uganda on 14 January 2021
- Mpoza Simon Peter
- Baluka Barry Robert
- Nanteza Stella
- Allan Suruci Erema
- Mbabazi Gloria
- Masereka Robert
- Mumbere Brian
- Ithungu Jesca
- Nzanzu Robert Kikoma
- Muhindo Jarvis
- Jawia Michael
- Muhindo Jacob
- John Masereka
- John Vianney Bwambale
- Yora Geria
- Muhindo Keith Clint
- Masika Marion
- Munaaba Morine
- Hamba Richard
- Tumwine Edith
- Masereka Samuel
- Nnamiggo Scovia
- Mukasa Misusera
- Asiimwe Charles
- Perry Aritua
- Isabella Akiteng
Amplify and escalate to existing frameworks for human rights protection.