Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 November 2014, 10:12 GMT

Uganda: Spotlight on Human Rights Means No More Hiding

Publisher Article 19
Publication Date 10 October 2011
Cite as Article 19, Uganda: Spotlight on Human Rights Means No More Hiding, 10 October 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e9438312.html [accessed 26 November 2014]
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.

Uganda's human rights record will be reviewed on 11 October 2011 during the 12th Session of the Working Group on Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Human Rights Council. ARTICLE 19 urges Uganda to use this as an opportunity to review and repeal unduly restrictive freedom of expression legislation, including criminal defamation and excessively broad powers accorded to state media regulatory bodies. In addition, the issue of violence against journalists, human rights defenders and political opponents also needs to be addressed at this review.

"Uganda's Universal Periodic Review is an opportunity for the UN Human Rights Council to hold Uganda to account and ensure that the country's deteriorating freedom of expression situation is addressed and improved. The right to freedom of expression and media freedom have fallen prey to excessive government control," said Henry Maina, Director of ARTICLE 19 Kenya and Eastern Africa.  

Over the past decade, and as highlighted by ARTICLE 19, at least one journalist has been prosecuted annually under overly restrictive laws, especially criminal defamation and sedition. Many others have been assaulted and intimidated. In preparation for Uganda's review, ARTICLE 19 made a submission to the Human Rights Council in March 2010, in which it highlighted six key areas of concern. One of these concerns was a call to bring into full effect the 2005 Access to Information law. Uganda has since enacted operational guidelines to affect this law. ARTICLE 19 commends the Ugandan Government for this initiative and urges a review of these guidelines to reflect the provisions of the law and the Ugandan Constitution.

The other areas of concern raised in ARTICLE 19's submission to the Human Rights Council includes: 

  • Restriction of freedoms of expression and press freedom via the use the Press and Journalists Act (1995), the Electronic Media Act (1996), the Suppression of Terrorism Act (2002), the Regulation of Interception of Communication Act (2010) and sections of the Penal Code-criminal defamation and sedition;
  • Control of media reportage on critical public issues through use of state advertisement;
  • Misuse of media regulators to infringe on freedom of expression;
  • Misuse of state security agents and ruling political party adherents to repress and violate the rights of journalists and bloggers;
  • Violence against political opponents, human rights defenders and media workers.

ARTICLE 19 calls on the Uganda Government to stop all pending prosecutions of journalists and bring perpetrators of violence against journalists to justice. In addition, we call on the Ugandan government to initiate genuine legislative reforms based on broad consultation with the media and civil society to ensure that they meet the countries international human rights obligations.

Copyright notice: Copyright ARTICLE 19

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