Uganda: Minister Orders Investigations, Dissolution of the Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies (GLISS), a Ugandan civil society Organisation

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The Minister of Internal Affairs, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima has written to the NGO Board requesting an urgent investigation into the activities of the Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies, a Ugandan civil society Organisation. This action comes on the backdrop of a concerted attempt by the Minister to hurriedly push through enactment of the NGO Bill, a proposed law that is severely restrictive of the freedom of association in Uganda.

Appearing before parliamentary Internal Affairs and Defence Committee this week to make a submission on the NGO Bill, the Minister had hinted on the accusations he now labels in his letter. ‘How can an NGO registered as Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies get involved in civic activities’ the Minister noted to the Committee.

The details of his accusations and request for de-registration has today emerged in a letter dated July 3, 2015. In his letter, the Minister accuses GLISS and its directors of ‘having been involved in de-campaigning government programs and actively recruiting youths to join political opposition parties’ contrary to the objects for which it was registered.

In an apparent response to the Minister’s letter dated June 3rd, 2015 (a date before the Minister wrote the complaint letter), the Acting Secretary of the National NGO Board, Okello Stephen notified the Registrar General at the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) to carry out a search, ‘investigate its activities as per the complaint’, and consider appropriate action ‘including dissolution.’

‘This reprehensible action is an indication of what awaits the civil society if the proposed NGO Bill is passed in its current form’ noted Nicholas Opiyo, Executive Director and Lead Attorney for the Legal Charity Chapter Four Uganda. It further confirms the discomfort of the Minister and the government of Uganda with those critical of its human rights records.’

Under Clause 44 of the Bill, the NGO Board seeks to hold express powers to order for dissolution of an organisation in ‘public interest’ or if it deems it fit without requiring a court order.

Chapter Four Uganda urges URSB to resist mellowing to this political pressure and act independently and in accordance with its mandate.

About GLISS

GLISS is an independent policy think tank with exclusive programming on regional and international public policy issues. Under the leadership of Godber W. Tumushabe and Sophie Kutegeka Mbabazi as Associate Directors, the organization focuses on democracy and human rights as one of the key program areas.

Most recently, GLISS has facilitated dialogues on elections and electoral politics during which it has called for electoral reforms ahead of the 2016 National General Elections. It is currently partnering with Uganda Youth Network (UYONET) to host the Situation Room Uganda democracy debate series, which are often televised, live on NTV Uganda.

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