Protecting & Promoting Expression & Assembly Freedoms in the run-up to the 2016 Polls
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On Monday February 15, 2016, Chapter Four Uganda launched a report titled “When I Was Tortured, No One Came Out – Free expression and assembly in peril ahead of 2016 polls.”
The report documented incidents of violations of expression and assembly freedoms in the run up the 2016 general elections.
The February 2016 polls come against a background of excessive use of force by police to clamp down on freedom of association and assembly and attempts by different state agencies to curtail freedoms of expression.
In the last several years, Uganda has seen the passing of laws that curtail these freedoms including the Public Order Management Act (POMA), the NGO Act 2015 (now the NGO Act 2016), the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Act 2015 among others.
These laws not only limit the enjoyment of the freedom of expression and association, but also have given way to abuse by government agencies. For example, whereas the POMA does not give the police powers to ban public assemblies, in practice the police have acted like it has the authority to not only ban public assemblies, but also decide or give permission to anyone organizing such a meeting.
Conducted between October 2015 and early 2016, the report documents a total of 72 incidents where rights were violated in the run-up to the polls.