CIVIL SOCIETY POSITION ON THE CURRENT THREATS, INTIMIDATION AND ARRESTS BY THE STATE AND ITS AGENCIES ON THE CITIZENS INCLUDING POLITICAL LEADERS, CIVIL SOCIETY LEADERS AND PRO-DEMOCRACY ACTIVISTS IN THE FACE OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT CRISIS

26
Sep

CIVIL SOCIETY POSITION ON THE CURRENT THREATS, INTIMIDATION AND ARRESTS BY THE STATE AND ITS AGENCIES ON THE CITIZENS INCLUDING POLITICAL LEADERS, CIVIL SOCIETY LEADERS AND PRO-DEMOCRACY ACTIVISTS IN THE FACE OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT CRISIS

Civil Society Leaders address the press at the gate of Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies - GLISS.

Uganda Police raided and laid siege at the premises of two NGOs, Action Aid Uganda and Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies (GLISS). They then went ahead to carry out what they term police searches.

These developments follow the two NGOs’ recent criticism of the proposed Constitutional Amendment of age limit. Action Aid Uganda is a global organization that works to further human rights and defeat poverty for all.

The Great Lakes institute for Strategic Studies (GLiSS) on the other hand is an independent policy think tank with exclusive programming on regional and international public policy issues.

Livingstone Ssewanyana speaks to the Policemen who were taking Godber W Tumushabe away from the perimeter fence.

The offices of these two organizations were cordoned off by Police and staff ordered not to leave.

The warrant that was used was issued on Wednesday 20th September 2017 and signed by Juliet Nakitende, a Magistrate at Makindye Magistrates Court. The police, according to the warrant, were supposed to access computer accessories, mobile handsets, money transfer related documents and bank transaction documents. This is a violation of the right to privacy which is constitutionally guaranteed under Article 27 of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.

There have also been a number of related incidents going on across the country for instance;

• On 18th September 2017, the Police in Iganga also fired teargas several times to disperse a group of youth activists who were demonstrating against the proposal to remove age limits. This selfish move to lift age limit is intended to enable President Yoweri Museveni cling onto power for life.

• There has been heavy deployment of armed personnel at the Parliament of Uganda and in certain areas of the city which is a clear reminder of the happenings during the 1967 pigeonhole constitution amendment which was characterized by unlawful arrests and detention. This is recurring in the exact similar manner. Military Police have also set camp at Constitutional Square lacing the citizens in a state of fear and apprehension.

• There have been continued unlawful arrests, brutal handling and detention of political figures and other citizens engaged in opposing lifting of age limit such as His worship the Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, Hon. Mohammed Nsereko among others, youth groups such as the Jobless Brotherhood, Civil Society actors among others.

It is very absurd that the state bears not the slightest degree of shame in its disrespect to human rights, the rule of law and constitutionalism.

We also want to remind the state that we are aware that the current happenings and related incidents of abuse to the rule of law and Constitutionalism will go on as the desire by the state to abrogate the Constitution heightens through threats and intimidation, but as civil society, WE SHALL NOT GIVE UP!

We as civil society would also like to send a reminder to Mr. Museveni and all government actors in support of lifting the age limit that it is treasonous to try to overthrow the Constitution as laid down in the Article 3 of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and as such is punishable by law.

Whatever the state and its organs is doing shows that these moves to remove the age limit has the private backing of the head of state.

These recent actions are shameful and an act of both cowardice and intellectual ineptitude.

The violations enshrined in these gross acts of intimidations, threats and arrests include; the state Failure to Protect Ugandan Citizens in line with Article 212 of the Constitution and Section 4 of the Police Act, violation of the right to Dignity as provided under Article 24 of the Uganda constitution, violation of Freedom of Assembly as provided for under Article 29 (d) of the Uganda constitution and Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), violation of Freedom of Speech and Expression as provided for under Article 29 (1) (a) of the Uganda Constitution.

All that is going on in respect to Civil Society Organizations, other citizens and actors is illegal, illegitimate and an act of intimidation by the state to legitimize their illegitimate actions.

We therefore send a message of hope to CSOs and all Ugandans who are against attempts to abrogate the Constitution to remain in defence of the Constitution to the last drop of their blood.

In the spirit of Civil Society, we encourage all civil society actors that despite what is going on, we shall continue executing our mandate of holding government accountable and nothing will deter us as we are doing the right thing to ensure prevalence of the rule of law.

In the spirit of a free and just society, where justice prevails other than impunity, we therefore demand for the following:

  1. That the President as the Head of Force and Commander of the UPDF clearly comes out on his stand on removal of age limit and prevail upon his errand security officers who are abusing the power of the gun which they should be using to protect the citizens and the Constitution.

  2. That members of Parliament uphold the oath they swore when they became members of Parliament specifically the speaker to maintain her earlier position on refusing piece mill amendments and the Parliamentarians to uphold their Constitutional mandate under Article 79(3) to protect the Constitution and promote democratic governance of Uganda.

  3. The right to freedom of assembly and demonstration is a fundamental human right and the police should therefore aim at protecting the enjoyment of this freedom as opposed to constant suppression.

  4. The right to privacy is also a fundamental human right guaranteed under the Constitution that must be respected at all times and by all including the state and its agencies such as the Police.

  5. The police and other security agencies should also observe the principles of the rule of law and democratic policing in accordance with national laws and international laws opposed to being a partisan or regime policing. The police should therefore refrain from acts of excessive force and focus on protection of lives, property and keeping law and order.

  6. Immediate investigations into the illegal actions exhibited by police officers cited in the unlawful arrest and surrounding of civil society organizations be carried out.

  7. The Police releases all those who have been arrested and detained. In so doing, we wish to remind the police that the right to liberty is fundamental right and should be respected in that capacity.

  8. The Police should aim at applying the law in an impartial manner as opposed to that which is witnessed involving unlawful arrests, brutality and torture on the opposition and citizens who do not subscribe to the ruling regime’s schools of thought.

  9. The state should fulfil her obligation of responsibility to respect, protect and fulfil human rights. The actions exhibited by the state and its agencies such as the Police show a regression of this duty. We therefore call upon the State and security agencies to renew commitment to respect, protection and fulfilment of human rights for Ugandan citizens.