The United States has come out to condemn the violation of individual rights and freedoms of expression by government agencies in the wake of protests against the attempt by Parliament to scrap Presidential age limit.
Deborah Malac, the U.S Ambassador to Uganda on Thursday issued a statement expressing concern over the attacks on civil society that occurred earlier this week. Police raided offices of Action Aid and Great Lakes Institute of Strategic Studies (GLISS) claiming they were investigating illicit transfer of funds for purposes of unlawful activities.
“The United States is deeply concerned that recent arrests and raids stifle the Ugandan people’s right to free expression and tarnish Uganda’s global image,” Ambassador Malac said in a statement.
“We are disturbed by reports of raids on NGOs. Infringements on protected rights under Uganda’s Constitution will impede the country’s development,” she added.
The call comes hours after Uganda’s capital Kampala woke up to heavy police and military deployment particularly around the Parliament and the Constitutional Square. Several opposition figures including the Mayor of Kampala Erias Lukwago were arrested while others have been put under house arrest in what police says are preventative measures from inciting violence.
Some students of Makerere University were also arrested by police while they walked from the campus to Parliament in protest of the age limit Bill.
Parliament is Thursday afternoon expected to discuss a private member’s Bill seeking to remove the constitutional age limit (75 years) for Presidency.
Malac urged government to “guarantee all its citizens freedom of speech, expression, and assembly, without fear of intimidation.”