Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report on January 10 criticizing the Ugandan government and accusing them of repressing freedom of speech and association in the lead up to the presidential and parliamentary elections.
Elections are due to be held on February 18 and journalists are being targeted for covering news pertaining to the Opposition campaign, HRW reported.
“Journalists have been suspended under government pressure and radio stations threatened for hosting Opposition members or when panelists expressed views critical of the ruling party, the National Resistance Movement,” HRW wrote.
The report stated that journalists working in English have not been as heavily targeted as those reporting in local languages. Numerous government officials have harassed and threatened journalists especially those whose listeners live in rural areas of the country.
The 48-page report, titled “Keep the People Uninformed” details the way in which the Ugandan government has prevented journalists and people working in civil society organizations from being able to do their jobs due to intimidation by the government. HRW has called on the government and all relevant authorities to “respect and protect the freedoms of expression and association and cease intimidating and harassing journalists and civil society members. The government of Uganda should respect and uphold its obligations under international human rights law and Uganda’s own constitution to protect freedom of speech and voters’ right to receive and obtain information at this critical time. Unless remedied, violations of these basic rights will impede Uganda’s ability to hold free and fair elections.