Last Updated: Sunday, 23 October 2016, 06:57 GMT

Uganda: Government should drop NGO registration renewal process

Publisher Article 19
Publication Date 19 September 2013
Cite as Article 19, Uganda: Government should drop NGO registration renewal process, 19 September 2013, available at: [accessed 23 October 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

ARTICLE 19 is concerned that all registered NGOs are being asked to "update their files" with the National NGO Board or risk being automatically de-registered.

The announcement came from the National NGO Board, a statutory regulator of civil society organisations under the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

ARTICLE 19 finds this bureaucratic measure a potential threat to civil society organizations in the country as it introduces barriers to operations of NGOs.

NGOs have been given three months to submit this information - using a form available on the Ministry website - between 1 September and 29 November 2013. Failure to do so will result in the automatic deregistration of an NGO.

"ARTICLE 19 finds this to be yet another legal barrier to the shrinking space in which civil society in Uganda operate. There are various alternative measures that the NGO Board could undertake in order to update their records, which do not include threatening organisations with de-registration. This measure potentially threatens to further restrict the right to freedom of assembly and association in the country" said, Henry Maina, Director ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa.

The announcement states that there are currently 10,511 registered NGOs, some of which might not be active.

ARTICLE 19 notes that this order is part of wider state led efforts to restrict civil society in the country. It follows a public announcement by the Minister of Internal Affairs General Aronda Nyakairima, a former Chief of Defense Forces, about his commitment to deal with "errant" civil society organisations. The NGO Board announcement also comes less than a month after the Ugandan Parliament passed the controversial Public Order Management Bill, severely restricting freedom of assembly in the country.

James Male Kiwalabye, from the Uganda NGO Forum, a voluntary umbrella body for NGOs in Uganda, said: "Although the NGO Board claims they want to clean-up their registry, we hold that it is another way of weakening civil society by deregistering some of the NGOs."

"The entire process is not clear. We are not yet aware whether these applications will be formally reviewed and if certificates may be revoked on the basis of the information that is provided. The authorities have not done enough to publicise and raise awareness about the need for NGOs to re-register, especially outside the city of Kampala. The submission form can only be accessed physically at the Ministry's offices, or via their website, which is not working,' added Maina.

ARTICLE 19 calls upon the NGO Board to abandon the re-registration process. Instead NGOs should be asked to update the information in non-punitive manner. The existence of a large number of registered NGOs in the country should be viewed as testimony to a thriving civil society in Uganda.

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