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HUMAN RIGHTS AND

ELECTIONS IN UGANDA (2016)


A CALL FOR ACTION

WHAT IS FHRI?
WHAT IS FHRI?
(FHRI) is an independent, non-governmental, non-partisan and
(FHRI) is an independent, non-governmental, non-partisan and
VISION
VISION
A human rights
and civic culture as a foundation for peace, stability,
A social
humanjustice
rightsand
andsustainable
civic culture
as a foundation
for peace, stability,
democracy,
development
in Uganda.
democracy, social justice and sustainable development in Uganda.
MISSION
MISSION
To enhance
respect and observance of human rights practices and
Topromote
enhancebest
respect
and observance
of human
rights practices and
civic values,
practices
through training
education,
civic values,
promote
best practices
through training education,
research, advocacy,
ICTs
and strategic
partnerships.
research, advocacy, ICTs and strategic partnerships.
MANDATE
MANDATE
To promote
respect for human rights and civic values
To citizens
promotewith
respect
for human
rights and civic values
To empower
human
rights knowledge

To
empower
citizens
with
human
rights knowledge
and skills to demand defend their rights
and
to demand
defend policy
their rights
To advocate
forskills
human
rights-friendly
and legislative

To
advocate
for
human
rights-friendly
policy and legislative
framework that can foster respect for human dignity.
framework that can foster respect for human dignity.
CORE VALUES
VALUES
Equal CORE
opportunity

Equal
Result-oriented opportunity
Result-oriented
Team work
Team work
Excellence
Excellence
Timeliness
Timeliness

HUMAN RIGHTS AND ELECTIONS IN


UGANDA (2016): A CALL FOR ACTION
Human Rights Violations During Ugandas 2016 General Elections

June 2016

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This report is a publication of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI). FHRI
is an independent, non-governmental, non-partisan and not-for-profit human rights
advocacy organisation. The organisation seeks to enhance knowledge, respect and
observance of human rights, and promote exchange of information and best practices
through training, education, research, legislative advocacy and strategic partnerships.

This report was made possible through the contributions of several individuals, groups
and government institutions who provided information to our research team. These
contributions include but are not limited to: government officials, civil society
organisations, academia and the media.

We are most grateful to the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) and UN Office of the
High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) without whose support the publication
of this report would not have been possible. They are, however, in no way responsible
for the accuracy or content of this report.


PROJECT TEAM


Author:
Ms Lizet Vlamings

Research team:
Ms Faridah Lule
Ms Josephine Kankunda
Mr Rashid Bunya

Editor:
Dr Livingstone Sewanyana

CONTENTS
CONTENTS
ACRONYMS ........................................................................................................................................ 4
SUMMARY .......................................................................................................................................... 5
KEY FINDINGS ..................................................................................................................................................... 5
RECOMMENDATIONS ......................................................................................................................................... 7
METHODOLOGY ............................................................................................................................... 9
BACKGROUND ............................................................................................................................... 10
CHAPTER ONE: RIGHT TO VOTE .............................................................................................. 13
1.1 INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................................... 14
1.2 TREND SINCE 2006 ............................................................................................................................ 14
1.3 THE RIGHT TO VOTE DURING THE 2016 ELECTION PERIOD ........................................................ 15
1.4 CONCLUSION ......................................................................................................................................... 25
CHAPTER TWO: RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION ................................................... 26
2.1 INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................................... 27
2.2 TREND SINCE 2006 ............................................................................................................................ 27
2.3 FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION DURING THE 2016 ELECTION PERIOD ............................................. 29
2.4 ACCESS TO INFORMATION DURING THE 2016 ELECTION PERIOD .............................................. 38
2.5 CONCLUSION ......................................................................................................................................... 41
CHAPTER THREE: RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY .............................. 43
3.1 INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................................... 44
3.2 TREND SINCE 2006 ............................................................................................................................ 44
3.3 FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY DURING THE 2016 ELECTION PERIOD ................................................. 45
3.4 CONCLUSION ......................................................................................................................................... 54
CHAPTER FOUR: RIGHT TO LIFE ............................................................................................. 55
4.1 INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................................... 56
4.2 TREND SINCE 2006 ............................................................................................................................ 56
4.3 RIGHT TO LIFE DURING THE 2016 ELECTION PERIOD .................................................................. 56
4.4 CONCLUSION ......................................................................................................................................... 59
CHAPTER FIVE: RIGHT TO LIBERTY AND SECURITY OF THE PERSON ....................... 60
5.1 INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................................... 61
5.2 TREND SINCE 2006 ............................................................................................................................ 61
5.3 RIGHT TO LIBERTY AND SECURITY OF THE PERSON DURING THE 2016 ELECTION PERIOD .. 61
5.4 CONCLUSION ......................................................................................................................................... 70
CHAPTER SIX: ELECTORAL VIOLENCE ................................................................................... 71
6.1 INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................................... 72
6.2 TREND SINCE 2006 ............................................................................................................................ 72
6.3 ELECTION VIOLENCE DURING THE 2016 ELECTION PERIOD ....................................................... 73
6.4 CONCLUSION ......................................................................................................................................... 82
CHAPTER SEVEN: ACCESS TO JUSTICE ................................................................................... 83
7.1 INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................................... 84
7.2 TREND SINCE 2006 ............................................................................................................................ 84
7.3 ACCESS TO JUSTICE DURING THE 2016 ELECTION PERIOD .......................................................... 85
7.4 CONCLUSION ......................................................................................................................................... 90
CHAPTER EIGHT: CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS ........................................... 91
8.1 CONCLUSION ......................................................................................................................................... 92
8.2 RECOMMENDATIONS ........................................................................................................................... 92



ACRONYMS

ACME
AIGP
CCEDU
CEO
CEON-U
DP

DPC
DR

EC

ED

EU

EU EOM
FDC
FHRI
DISO
GISO
HRNJ-U
ICCPR
IGP

ISO

LDU
MP

NIR
NRM
NVR
OHCHR
POMA
PWDs
RDC
SPC
UBC
UCC
UDHR
UHRC
UPDF
UPF
UK

UN

WLEDE

ACRONYMS

African Centre for Media Excellence


Assistant Inspector General of Police
Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda
Chief Executive Officer
Citizens Election Observers Network - Uganda
Democratic Party
District Police Commander
Declaration of Results
Electoral Commission
Executive Director
European Union
European Union Election Observation Mission
Forum for Democratic Change
Foundation for Human Rights Initiative
District Internal Security Officer
Sub-county Internal Security Officer
Human Rights Network for Journalists (Uganda)
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Inspector General of Police
Internal Security Organisation
Local Defence Unit
Member of Parliament
National Identification Register
National Resistance Movement
National Voters Register
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Public Order Management Act
Persons With Disabilities
Resident District Commissioner
Special Police Constable
Uganda Broadcasting Corporation
Uganda Communications Commission
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Uganda Human Rights Commission
Uganda Peoples Defence Forces
Uganda Police Force
United Kingdom
United Nations
Women Leadership Development

4 HUMAN
RIGHTS AND ELECTIONS IN UGANDA (2016)
A CALL FOR ACTION

SUMMARY
SUMMARY
This report presents the findings of an 8 months inquiry carried out by the Foundation
for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) into the human rights situation during the 2016
election period in Uganda. This report analyses the legal framework in place to protect
and promote human rights related to the conduct of elections and participation in public
affairs; it documents human rights violations throughout the 2016 election period from
the start of the campaign period in October 2015 up to May 2016, thereby covering the
pre-, during, and post-election environment; and provides a comparative analysis with
the human rights situation during the general elections held in 2006 and 2011.

This report focuses on the rights to vote and to participate in public affairs, freedoms of
expression and assembly, the right to life, liberty and security of the person, and access
to justice. Uganda is party to several key international and regional human rights
instruments that safeguard these rights, most notably the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. These
instruments have been domesticated in the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda,
1995. While in theory the government seems committed to protecting and promoting
civil and political rights, in practice, a lack of procedural safeguards and political will to
protect and promote these rights has resulted in a narrowing of civic space and
meaningful citizen participation.

KEY FINDINGS

Right to vote
The 2016 elections were replete with disenfranchisement of voters, most notably due to
late delivery of polling materials in Kampala and Wakiso districts, and
disenfranchisement of potential voters including persons who turned 18 between May
2015 and February 2016, detainees and Ugandans in the diaspora. The right to vote was
furthermore infringed upon by alleged widespread voter bribery, multiple voting,
stuffing of ballot boxes with pre-ticked ballots and altering of results.

Freedom of expression
Space for the media to operate freely was restricted with an increasing number of
attacks on journalists during the 2016 election period over 100 reported cases
between October 2015 and February 2016, primarily at the hands of the Uganda Police
Force (UPF). The freedom of the media was further restricted by the closure of a number
of radio stations, including Mbarara-based Endigyito Radio on 21st January 2016 two
days after hosting Go Forward presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi; interference by
state institutions in the programming of some broadcasters, including the Monitor
Publications being taken to the Media Council by the President for printing a photo
depicting Besigye with larger crowds than President Museveni; arrests of social media
critics such as Charles Rwomushana and Robert Shaka; the shutdown of social media on
Election Day and during the swearing in of President Museveni on 12th May 2016; and a
ban on all live media coverage of FDCs defiance campaign activities.

Access to information, despite commendable initiatives being introduced, also remains
wanting. Adequate access to information on all candidates and party manifestos was
difficult to obtain for voters due to unequal media coverage, with the NRM and to a
lesser extent FDC and Go Forward receiving the largest share (40% in the major
newspapers and 46% on television). In addition, information on the election process,
and in particular the election results, was not made accessible to the public in a
sufficiently transparent manner to enjoy the confidence of the electorate.


Freedom of assembly
During the consultation meetings in the pre-campaign period, the right to freedom of
assembly was severely restricted, most notably the arrest of presidential candidate
Amama Mbabazi en route to Mbale on 9th July 2015, which the Supreme Court called
unjustified, highhanded and contrary to the Presidential Elections Act in its ruling of the
Presidential Election Petition, No. 1 of 2016. The freedom of assembly was more
protected during the campaign period to the extent that presidential and parliamentary
candidates were largely able to organize campaign rallies peacefully. However,
widespread intimidation and interference at opposition rallies was recorded, with NRM
members and/or supporters reportedly disrupting opposition campaign rallies on
several occasions, such as in Ntungamo, Fort Portal, Mukono, Hoima, Iganga and Serere
districts. The interference in the campaigns of opposition members affected their ability
to market their manifestos and ideas effectively. In the post-election environment the
freedom of assembly was further restricted, following an interim order issued by Deputy
Chief Justice Stephen Kavuma on 29th April 2016, banning all demonstrations,
processions or other public meetings known to be part of FDCs defiance campaign.

Right to life
Excessive use of force by security officers continues to result in incidental loss of life. At
least three persons died as a result of excessive use of force by security forces, in
Kampala, Iganga and Kasese. The violence and loss of life in the days before Election
Day, undoubtedly contributed to an environment of fear. Despite statements by police
that lethal crowd control methods are only used as a last resort, too often does the
police resort to live bullets to disperse public gatherings.

Right to liberty and security of the person
The right to liberty and security of the person seems to be increasingly curtailed with
police overzealously arresting persons under the guise of public order management, and
later releasing them, often without charges. That this often happens to opposition
members and/or supporters or journalists covering opposition activities casts further
doubt on the appropriateness and lawfulness of these arrests. The most blatant violation
of the right to liberty during the 2016 election period was the preventive detention of
presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye at his home for 43 days between 19th February
and 1st April 2016, and again in the days prior to the swearing in of President Museveni
on 12th May 2016. Despite police arguing that they were only monitoring his
movements, Dr Besigye argued differently, not being allowed to leave his home and only
being able to receive visitors after approval from police, which tantamounts to
preventive detention.

Electoral violence
Mistrust of the citizens in the election process and between citizens and security forces,
has led to increased tensions and incidences of violence in the 2016 election period. The
passing out of an estimated 11 million crime preventers (approximately 256 times the
size of the UPF) shortly before the elections fuelled this environment of mistrust and
possible violence further. The timing of the mass recruitment of crime preventers was
highly suspicious, especially since no adequate regulatory framework had been set up
yet. Though, the anticipated large-scale violence did not materialize during or
immediately following the election period.

Access to justice
A lack of confidence in the complaints desk of the Electoral Commission (EC) and the
absence of a time frame within which the EC must handle complaints, hampered timely
and adequate access to justice for electoral related disputes. Access to justice by way of a
6

HUMAN RIGHTS AND ELECTIONS IN UGANDA (2016)


A CALL FOR ACTION

presidential election petition lodged at the Supreme Court was also hampered by
several factors, most notably insufficient time for the petitioners to collect evidence and
the inability of the Supreme Court to adequately inquire into the alleged electoral
irregularities. The alleged theft of the petitioners evidence in the Presidential Election
Petition No. 1 of 2016 and alleged arrests and intimidation of witnesses is likely to lead
to increased fear of persons to swear affidavits in support of future election petitions,
thereby further hampering possibilities of effective access to justice.

RECOMMENDATIONS

To the government:
1. Introduce comprehensive electoral and political reforms to strengthen the
electoral laws in Uganda necessary for the holding of free and fair elections that
would garner the trust of the ordinary citizen.
2. Investigate the root causes of the recurrent violence and killings in the Rwenzori
region with a view to devising a lasting solution.
3. Respect and uphold the independence and impartiality of the other arms of
government and constitutional institutions such as the Electoral Commission
and Uganda Communications Commission.

To Parliament:
1. Amend S. 15 of the Electoral Commission Act, Cap. 140 to introduce a time limit
within which the Electoral Commission must resolve complaints.
2. Amend Article 104(2) and (3) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda,
1995 (as amended in 2005) and S. 59 (2) and (3) of the Electoral Commission
Act, Cap. 140 to extend the time for lodging an election petition from 10 to 30
days and for the Supreme Court to determine the petition at least 60 days after
the declaration of results.
3. Amend S. 19(1)(b) of the Electoral Commission Act, Cap. 140 to allow persons
below 18 years to register for the National Voters Register, provided the person
turns 18 before Election Day.
4. Amend the electoral laws to make provisions for persons in detention,
particularly those in pre-trial detention, and Ugandans in the diaspora to
exercise their right to vote.

To the Electoral Commission:
1. Ensure timely delivery of voting materials to all polling stations nationwide.
2. Ensure transparency at every stage of the electoral process, including
recruitment and training of election officials, resolution of disputes, distribution
of materials, counting and tallying of ballots and declaration of results.
3. Ensure adequate and timely disposal of electoral complaints in a transparent
manner.

To the Uganda Police Force:
1. Refrain from selective implementation of the Public Order Management Act,
2013 and instead regulate and facilitate the enjoyment of the right to freedom of
peaceful assembly in accordance with Article 29(1)(d) of the Constitution of the
Republic of Uganda, 1995.
2. Refrain from using excessive force in regulating public gatherings and effecting
arrests, and ensure that police officers are equipped with sufficient non-lethal
crowd control equipment such as rubber bullets and tear gas, but even these
should only be applied proportionately and only when absolutely necessary.
3. Ensure accountability for all police officers involved in human rights violations
and partisan behaviour recorded during the election period.

7 7

4. Provide for the regulatory framework for crime preventers, in particular relating
to their recruitment, training, mandate and accountability.


To the Directorate of Public Prosecutions:
1. Prosecute all persons suspected to have committed electoral offences to curb
impunity of perpetrators and electoral malpractices.
2. Prosecute all security officers involved in human rights violations including but
not limited to excessive use of force, extrajudicial killings, and arbitrary arrests.

To the Uganda Communications Commission:
1. Respect and promote the freedom of expression in Uganda, avoiding arbitrary
closure of social media.
2. Enable a conducive environment for the media to operate free from intimidation
and harassment, refraining from arbitrary closure of media houses or threats to
withdraw licences.

To the judiciary:
1. Uphold the independence of the judiciary, avoiding issuing arbitrary orders that
undermine the rule of law.

To all political players:
1. Desist from engaging in the commercialisation of politics characterised by
malpractices such as voter bribery, stuffing ballot boxes with pre-ticked ballots
and altering of results, among others.

To the media:
1. Ensure equal media coverage of all candidates, ruling party and opposition alike.

To the general public:
1. Refrain from engaging in unlawful behaviour, including inciting or participating
in violence.

8 HUMAN
RIGHTS AND ELECTIONS IN UGANDA (2016)
A CALL FOR ACTION

METHODOLOGY

METHODOLOGY


This report presents the findings of an 8 months inquiry carried out by the Foundation
for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) into the human rights situation during the 2016
election period in Uganda, between October 2015 and May 2016. It focuses on violations
of the rights to vote and to participate in public affairs, freedoms of expression and
assembly, the right to life, liberty and security of the person, and access to justice.

A review of the relevant international and regional human rights instruments as well as
national laws, policies and guidelines was conducted to analyse the legal framework and
human rights safeguards in place and the legal reforms that have taken place since 2006.
In addition, a review of media reports, election observer reports and human rights
reports of the 2006, 2011 and 2016 election periods provided further information on
human rights violations during elections in Uganda.

FHRI interviewed 33 individuals, including senior representatives from the Electoral
Commission, Uganda Police Force, Uganda Peoples Defence Force, Uganda
Communications Commission, political party members, presidential, parliamentary and
mayoral election candidates, civil society, the media, academia and human rights
victims.

All interviews were conducted face-to-face, mostly in private. The names of some
eyewitness have been omitted from the report for security concerns. FHRI verified
information received from witnesses and media reports with relevant authorities to
ensure reliability of the information.



9 9


BACKGROUND

BACKGROUND

The 18th February 2016 general elections marked the third multi-party elections in
Uganda. The first multi-party elections, held in February 2006, followed from a
referendum in 2005 that opened political space for political parties to compete in
elections. Between 1986 - when President Yoweri Museveni came into power and
2005, Uganda was governed under the Movement system; a system where candidates
were elected based on individual merit rather than political affiliation. Political parties
were allowed to continue in existence, but all political activities by the parties were
prohibited. 1 Though the Movement system was supposedly all-inclusive, it was in
essence a one-party state, contrary to the Constitution.2

The transition from the Movement system to multi-party politics increased political
participation. Since the return to a multi-party political system, the Electoral
Commission has facilitated the operation and participation of political parties, while at
the same time being scrutinized for lacking independence and impartiality. As a result,
the electoral process has continued to lack the freeness and fairness necessary to fully
realise a multi-party political system.

The 2006 and 2011 elections were generally more peaceful than the 2001 elections that
experienced widespread acts of violence, but marred with irregularities and misconduct.
The 2006 elections, for instance, experienced unequal media coverage in favour of the
incumbent, disenfranchisement of voters, vote buying and bribery, ballot stuffing,
intimidation and harassment tactics by security forces against the opposition, and use of
prosecution as a tool for discrediting the legitimacy of opposition leaders and disabling
them from campaigning effectively.3

Main opposition presidential candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye, challenged the 2006 election
outcome citing sizeable differences between results from poling stations and voting
districts, voter disenfranchisement, and tampering with the voters register, among
others. The Supreme Court ruled that the principle of free and fair elections was
compromised by bribery and intimidation or violence in some areas of the country and
that the principles of equal suffrage, transparency of the vote, and secrecy of the ballot
were undermined by multiple voting and vote stuffing in some areas. 4 Despite
declaring that the elections were not free and fair and malpractices affected the results,
the Supreme Court Justices voted 4 against 3 to uphold the results of the election
outcome on the basis that the irregularities did not substantially alter the outcome of
the election.

The 2011 elections faced similar controversy. The Electoral Commission was criticized
for disenfranchising voters due to irregularities in the voters register, the National
Resistance Movement (NRM) was heavily criticized for the use of state resources for

1 Article 270 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 (as repealed), prohibited political parties

10

from opening and operating branch offices, holding delegates conferences and public rallies and sponsoring
or campaigning for candidates for elective posts.
2 Article 75 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 prohibits Parliament from enacting a law
establishing a one-party State.
3 For instance the arrest and prosecution of Dr. Kizza Besigye in 2005 limited his ability to campaign. It was
widely viewed as designed to harass and intimidate him in the run-up to the 2006 election. Other cases of
prosecutions were the murder charges against two FDC Members of Parliament (MPs) who were
subsequently acquitted by the High Court. This had the same effect of limiting the time the candidates had
for campaigning. Report of the Commonwealth Observer Group, Uganda Presidential Elections, 18th
February 2011.
4 Rtd. Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye v Electoral Commission, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (Election Petition No.1 Of
2006), Supreme Court of Uganda, 30th January 2007.
HUMAN RIGHTS AND ELECTIONS IN UGANDA (2016)

10
FOR ACTION
A CALL

campaign purposes, and vote buying and bribery were widely observed.5 In addition,
heavy security deployment of both the police and the army was noted during the 2011
elections. The effect of military deployment during the 2011 general elections was
widely discussed and while commendable to forestall any possible violence, such heavy
deployment often scares voters away from the polls, especially in rural areas. As a result
of these and other controversies, on 24th February 2011, Dr Kizza Besigye called upon
opposition supporters to peacefully protest the results of what he asserted to be sham
elections.6

This resulted in the Walk to Work demonstrations throughout 2011. The government
controversially declared that these walks constituted an unlawful assembly, and
committed quelling any demonstration, including the Walk to Work movement. This
resulted in violence both from a number of demonstrators as well as security agents.
There were reports of people throwing stones at security agents and setting fire to
debris.7 Security forces responded to this with excessive use of force, resulting in the
death of at least nine persons, none of whom were actively involved in the violence.8

A general trend since 2006 to date points to a shrinking and intolerant political
environment where opposition candidates are increasingly restricted to interface with
their supporters. Of particular concern is polices excessive use of force, obstruction and
dispersal of opposition rallies, and intimidation and arrests of journalists and opposition
politicians. For instance, Dr Kizza Besigye, Musevenis strongest opponent, has been
arrested over 43 times since the 2011 elections with none of the charges preferred
against him being conclusively heard in the courts of law. 9

Another major issue of concern remains the credibility of the Electoral Commission (EC)
to be independent and impartial as established by the Constitution. A landmark decision
in 2005 by the EC to nominate Dr Kizza Besigye while in prison, against the explicit
advice of the Attorney General, cast a wave of hope on the independence of the EC. While
this was interpreted by many as a sign of independence and impartiality of the EC, the
continued appointment of the chairperson and commissioners to the EC by the
president, continues to cast suspicion on its functionality. Furthermore, prior to the
2016 elections, the EC Chairman stated that FDC presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye
is not presidential material, and that if he had the powers he would not have nominated
Dr Besigye as presidential candidate,10 indicating a lack of impartiality.

To strengthen the independence and impartiality of the EC and enhance the electoral
process in Uganda, various actors including civil society, government and opposition
activists made a number of electoral proposals. However, delay by the government to
table electoral reforms and Parliaments failure to debate most of the critical electoral
reforms including the appointment process of the EC, shows a lack of political will on the
side of government to fulfil this commitment.

5 Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, The Long Road to Realizing Labour Rights in Uganda, Report for

the Period September 2010 March 2011, p. 86.

6 Ibid., p. 85.

7 Human Rights Watch. Uganda: Walk to Work Group Declared Illegal. Retrieved on 22 July 2015 from

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/04/04/uganda-walk-work-group-declared-illegal

8 Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, The Functioning of Multi-party Democracy in Uganda, Report for

the period 2012-2013, p. 46.


Monitor, I have been arrested 43 times in 5 years Besigye, by Eriasa Mukiibi Sserunjogi, 19th
November 2015, retrieved from: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/I-have-been-arrested-43-
times-in-5-years--Besigye/-/688334/2961994/-/24n9g5z/-/index.html.
10 Daily Monitor, Besigye not presidential material Kiggundu, by Stephen Wandera, 17th February 2016,
retrieved from: http://www.monitor.co.ug/SpecialReports/Elections/Besigye-not-presidential-material---
Kiggundu/-/859108/3079772/-/p3troy/-/index.html.
9 Daily

11 11


In the absence of the desired electoral reforms and in light of the high level splits within
the NRM, tensions were high as the 2016 election period started with eight presidential
candidates, including the incumbent President, Yoweri Museveni, former Prime
Minister, Amama Mbabazi, and Forum for Democratic Changes (FDC) Dr Kizza Besigye,
who has stood in the last three presidential elections.

12

12
RIGHTS AND ELECTIONS IN UGANDA (2016)
HUMAN
A CALL FOR ACTION

CHAPTER ONE
RIGHT TO VOTE

[T]he right to vote is fundamental in promoting the right of a citizen to


participate in governance and determine the destiny of his country. It
should not be taken away lightly.
- Benjamin Odoki, Former Chief Justice Presidential Election Petition No. 01 of 2006

1.1 INTRODUCTION
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) provides that the will of the people
shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic
and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held
by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.11 In Uganda, the right to vote is
a constitutional right. According to Article 59 of the Constitution of the Republic of
Uganda, 1995 (hereafter referred to as the Constitution), every citizen of Uganda of
eighteen years of age or above has a right to vote and the State shall take all necessary
steps to ensure that all citizens qualified to vote register and exercise their right to vote.
In addition, Article 1 of the Constitution provides that all power belongs to the people
and all authority in the State emanates from the people of Uganda; and the people shall
be governed through their will and consent.

Under article 1 [article 1(4) of the Constitution], the quality of the election is
determined. It should be regular, free and fair. So Article 1 sets the test. But how do
you meet that test? That means you have a credible voters register, the voting
process must be transparent, free and fair. So if you remove those elements from an
election, my argument would be that election would be no longer the election that
was envisaged under the Constitution. I would argue that the fact that you dont
have a credible voters register, that the entire electoral process is tampered with,
then the election has failed to meet the test that is set under the Constitution.12

1.2 TREND SINCE 2006
Despite these constitutional guarantees, Ugandans right to vote has not always been
respected in past elections. In 2006, there was widespread disenfranchisement of
voters. The Supreme Court, for instance, found that the Electoral Commission had erred
during the conduct of the 2006 elections when it disenfranchised voters by deleting
their names from the voters register or denying them the right to vote, in counting and
tallying of results, by bribery and intimidation or violence, and by multiple voting and
ballot stuffing.13 On Election Day, a significant number of voters were turned away
because their names were missing from the register despite them having registration
and/or voter cards.14 Other causes of disenfranchisement of voters were the relocation
of polling stations shortly before elections without clear communication, delays in
opening of polling stations, unqualified and incompetent electoral officials, voter
bribery, and intimidation by security forces.15

In the 2011 elections, though the Democracy Monitoring Group found an improvement
in the national voters register compared to 2006, it also still found many irregularities,
resulting in disenfranchisement of voters.16 On Election Day, many voters could not find
the polling station where they were registered due to the restructuring exercise of
polling stations prior to the election and insufficient voter education on the same.

11 Article 21(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.

12 FHRI interview with Godber Tumushabe, Associate Director, Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies

(GLISS), on 16th March 2016.

13 Rtd. Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye v. Electoral Commission and Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Presidential Election

Petition No. 1 of 2006, Supreme Court of Uganda, 31st January 2007.

14 Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, Electoral Reforms in Uganda, Report for the period of July

December 2008, Kampala, p. 30.

15 Ibid., pp. 43-46.

16 It found that 95% of voters listed were proven to exist, however it also found that the limit of 800 voters

per polling station was exceeded in 17.7% of cases, and they estimated over 4,000 duplicate entries, more
than 5,000 voters over 110 years of age, and registration levels in some areas exceeding the estimated
eligible population. See: Uganda Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: Commonwealth Secretariat,
2011, p. 14.

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According to the Commonwealth Observer Group, this resulted in disenfranchisement of


a significant portion of voters.17 Other administrative and logistical failures with vote
procedures and counting, including insufficient training of polling officials and late
delivery of materials, led to further disenfranchisement of voters with some voters
being unable to locate their names on the register until the close of polls,18 and as a
result unable to cast their votes. Furthermore, various electoral offences adversely
affected the right to vote, such as vote bribery and vote rigging through ballot stuffing
and altering of results at polling stations.19

1.3 THE RIGHT TO VOTE DURING THE 2016 ELECTION PERIOD

1.3.1 Voters register


For the 2016 elections, the Electoral Commission compiled a new National Voters
Register (NVR), using data extracted from the National Identification Register (NIR).
This new NVR was displayed between 7th and 30th April 2015 for public scrutiny and to
allow for registration of eligible citizens who were not yet registered as voters and those
who were not registered during the National ID Card registration process. This resulted
in a NVR of 15.3 million voters.

The opposition heavily disputed the voters register, questioning the possibility of having
15.3 million Ugandans eligible to vote. Based on statistics from the 2014 census, the
number of Ugandans eligible to vote stands at 15.3 million persons.20 This would mean
that every person aged 18 years and above was registered; yet many persons
complained of having their names missing from the NVR.

In Ngora and Kumi districts, for instance, several residents did not vote because their
names were missing from the voters register. In Kumi municipality alone, 120 names
were missing from the register.21 Dr Badru Kiggundu, Electoral Commission Chairman,
explained why certain persons are not included in the register:

There are people who do not care and are ready to go with whatever comes up.
Those are the people who stay away from registering. Also some people with
criminal intentions or criminal records did not want to register in this mass
enrollment. Why, they knew that the biometric fingerprints will be captured and it
would be easier to trace them. Many of those stayed away.22

Kiggundu added:

There are some people who went and registered partially and stopped somewhere
because they had forgotten some information. So that data cannot be included in
the system. Also these machines that we use chew up names. If you remember,
the former Secretary General of NRM, when he was asked about the register he

17 According

to the Commonwealth Observer Group it was not possible to quantify the number of
disenfranchised voters, but the numbers were significant enough to cause concern. See: Commonwealth
Observer Group, Uganda Presidential and Parliamentary Elections, 2011, p. 29.
18 Electoral institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, Technical Assessment Team Report Uganda, 2011,
p. 38.
19 Election Observation Delegation to the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in Uganda: European
Parliament, 2011, p. 18; and European Union Election Observation Mission: Final Report on the Uganda
General Election, 2011, p. 39.
20According to the 2014 census, the total population of Uganda stood at 34.6 million persons in 2014. Of
these 34.6 million persons, 98.5% or 34.1 million persons possess Ugandan citizenship. Of these 34.1
Ugandan citizens, 45% or 15.3 million persons are aged 18 years or older.
21 Daily Monitor, Voters complain of missing names, by Richard Otim, 19th February 2016, p. 13.
22 FHRI interview with Dr Badru Kiggundu, Chairperson Electoral Commission, on 13th May 2016.

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compiled before 2011, he said it had been chewed by the computer. Documents can
be chewed, it can be affected by a virus.23


The new NVR was further disputed on grounds that the method used extracting names
from the NIR did not comply with the constitutional requirement that the EC
independently compiles, maintains, revises and updates the voters register.24 According
to Kiggundu, however, this was well within the ECs mandate:

Five institutions were brought together, 5 MDs [Managing Directors] were
brought together to establish a common database, which can subsequently be of
use to any other institution. We thought for us it would be very good to put that
variable of knowing where people would want to vote from, well-knowing that
when time comes for us to compile the register we would just pick from that. You
remember the constitution says that we are mandated to compile the register but
people misunderstand compiling. When you read the dictionary, compile does not
mean that you have to start from raw data or by capturing the personal
information and capturing their photos again which have been captured before, no
compiling is generic. The mandate of these multiple institutions put together is to
establish what will be classified as a national data bank.25

The Supreme Court, in its ruling on the Presidential Election Petition No. 1 of 2016, also
argued that the use of data compiled by the National Identification and Registration
Authority on whose Governing Board the Electoral Commission is a member to
compile the NVR did not in any way negate the duty of the Electoral Commission under
the Constitution to independently compile and update a voters register. 26 Nicholas
Opiyo, Executive Director of Chapter Four, however, disagrees with the ruling by the
Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court has in their ruling in my view erroneously confirmed that
there was no problem with that [using data from the National ID Project]. But you
see, the process of compiling a register for purposes of voting is clearly laid out in
the Electoral Commissions Act and clearly stipulated in the Constitution. To
embark on any other process than that is to do what is unlawful and
unconstitutional. So the reliance on the National ID database to compile a voter
roll was in my view unlawful.27

1.3.2 Disenfranchisement of vulnerable groups
Despite the constitutional provision that every citizen of Uganda of eighteen years of age
or above has a right to vote, several groups in society have been effectively denied this
right or find severe obstacles in exercising their right to vote, including detainees,
women, youth, persons with disabilities and Ugandans in the diaspora.

Detainees
Detainees in Uganda have not been allowed to participate in the voting exercise
throughout history. This is of particular concern due to the high numbers of persons in
pre-trial detention whose trials have not yet commenced and are therefore presumed to
be innocent. In 2015, for instance, there were 45,314 inmates of which 25,068 were

23 Ibid.

24 Article 61(1)(e) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995.

25 FHRI interview with Dr Badru Kiggundu, Chairperson Electoral Commission, on 13 th May 2016.

26 Amama Mbabazi v. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Electoral Commission, and the Attorney General,
Presidential Election Petition No. 1 of 2016, Supreme Court of Uganda, 31 st March 2016.
27 FHRI interview with Nicholas Opiyo, Executive Director, Chapter Four, on 11th April 2016.

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being held in pre-trial detention.28 The Electoral Commission has not made any special
provisions to guarantee the constitutional right to vote for those in detention, as it
argues it does not have the mandate to do so. 29 According to Kiggundu:

Of all the countries I have visited where there is voting, it is only South Africa that
incorporates prisoners in voting and it is not as open as it is to the population. First
of all these people have a criminal background and for you to access them, you
have to be very worried as if they are not human beings. So there are conditions
that must be set up to enable people in prisons to vote. We talked about it and
even looked at the management aspects. How about the patients in Prison? If the
concern is about prisoners, can we make special arrangements for the patients in
hospitals? Many of them were registered before, so can voting rights be extended to
patients? So the priority to me would be patients [rather] than prisoners. In fact
when we talked about that issue of prisoners to some people in government, they
were saying that for somebody being incarcerated in prison, someone had to pay a
price with their civil rights. You have killed someone, why would we extend civil
rights to you yet you have denied some one existence.30

This, however, fails to take into account the large number of persons in pre-trial
detention who have not yet been convicted.

Youth
11th May 2015 was the cut-off date for persons to be included in the NVR. This meant
that persons who turned 18 between 11th May 2015 and 18th February 2016 were
officially eligible to vote but not included in the register and therefore unable to exercise
their right to vote. It has been argued that there is need for continuous registration:

I think there has to be a continuous process of compiling a voters register, because
the law says it [the Electoral Commission] must compile that register on a
continuous basis for the purposes of voting. So that when people turn 18 two
months before the elections, they can vote. So there has to be a process of
continuous registration.31

According to the Electoral Commission this cut-off date is necessary for printing and
dissemination of the NVR in a timely manner.32 The Electoral Commission Act provides
that the commission shall update it to a date appointed by statutory instrument.33 As
persons below 18 years, even when they are turning 18 before Election Day, are not
allowed to register, this effectively disenfranchises all those who turn 18 between the
end of the updating exercise and Election Day. There is, therefore, need to amend the
Electoral Commission Act to allow persons below 18 to register, provided that their
particulars are only included in the NVR if they turn 18 before Election Day.

Women
At the time of writing of this report, no statistics were available on the number of
women who exercised their right to vote. According to data compiled by FHRI/WLEDE
observers in 20 polling stations, the ratio of male to female voters was 4648:4471,
indicating that men and women exercised their right to vote fairly equal, with male

28 FHRI, Human Rights and Poverty: Eradicating Extreme Poverty in Uganda, 2015, Kampala, p. 185.
29 International

Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), Elections in Uganda 2016 General Elections,
Frequently Asked Questions, 2016, pp. 1-2.
30 FHRI interview with Dr Badru Kiggundu, Chairperson Electoral Commission, on 13th May 2016.
31 FHRI interview with Nicholas Opiyo, Executive Director, Chapter Four, on 11th April 2016.
32 Information provided by the Electoral Commission on 24th May 2016.
33 Section 19(7) of the Electoral Commission Act, Cap. 140.

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17

voters being slightly more active than female voters.34 Possible explanations could be
the long waiting times at polling stations, due to which many women with infant
children and pregnant women went back home and were unable to vote.35 In addition,
incidences of violence may have deterred women. For instance, in Kasese an incident of
a woman rounded up and bundled onto a truck, was likely to invoke negative attitudes
among female voters.36

Persons with Disabilities
Although Uganda has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities, the government has not taken sufficient legislative and administrative steps
to fully enable persons with disabilities (PWDs) to vote without discrimination. The
Convention provides, among others, that voting procedures, facilities and materials: are
appropriate, accessible and easy to understand and use; protect the right of PWDs to
vote by secret ballot; and allow for assistance in voting by a person of their own
choice.37

To ensure voting for PWDs by secret ballot, disability organisations have proposed
braille ballot papers, however the Electoral Commission has not accommodated such
requests:

We have tried to engage the EC before and they said that they know that very
many people do not know brail and they cannot waste money to brail the ballot
papers. We told them that under the circumstances that they do not know, what
steps are you taking? We know that in some countries like Ghana, they do not use
brail but they come up with shapes, symbols or something that is identical and they
take time to educate the visually impaired about the shapes. These are shapes that
can be felt [physically] to identify the candidates by shape. These issues came up in
2006, 2011 and they still came back in 2016. So nothing much has changed.38

According to Kiggundu:

We have looked at it and my first exposure was in Ghana and we have done a
study on it. We almost went for it this time around but some of these people do not
want to be identified. So when the opportunity is granted, they might not come out
in full strength to vote. We are still shy, but it is technology that we know. Maybe
future commissions will try to roll it out but there is not enough knowledge
because many of them would rather be part of the population. Even then when they
are there, they are given priority to vote first in the regular polling stations just
like mothers, elderly and you know we do not want to create possibilities of
multiple voting because you might prepare for them a register to vote from the
other facility and all of a sudden he turns up here.39

As a result, blind persons can only vote through another person. The electoral process
does allow PWDs to be assisted by a person of their own choice. This, however, still
leads to challenges partly due to insufficient voter education:

34 FHRI and WLEDE, Observation of February 18th 2016 election day processes focusing on the participation

of women in the electoral process, March 2016, p. 2.


35 CEON-U, A Unified, Comprehensive and Effective Election Observation 2016, Final observation report
October 2015 to March 2016, May 2016, p. 69.
36 FHRI and WLEDE, March 2016, op. cit., p. 6.
37 Article 29 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2006.
38 FHRI interview with Esther Kyozira, Programme Manager Disability and Human Rights, National Union of
Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU), on 29th April 2016.
39 FHRI interview with Dr Badru Kiggundu, Chairperson Electoral Commission, on 13th May 2016.

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The biggest challenge was that some people would come with no one to assist
them. The law says that the polling officials are not supposed to assist anyone to
vote and the challenge would be that this person would be sent back to look for
someone of their choice to come with to assist him or her. Something needs to be
done around that, either the information has to be sent out earlier so that all
visually impaired and the elderly are educated during these civic and voter
education to be informed that they need to come with people of their choice to
avoid that back and forth.40


Another challenge due to insufficient sensitisation for PWDs was the use of the newly
introduced biometric machines:

The biometric machine to both visually and hearing impaired people was a
challenge. Where I voted from, in Mbiko, I think the civic education did not reach
the people at the grass roots, so deaf people would come without sign language
interpreters and yet they were required to use the biometric machines. So passing
on information by the polling assistant to explain how it is used became very
difficult. Even visually impaired people could not use it.41

On a more positive note, disability organisations noted in general that PWDs were
allowed to vote without having to line up and polling centres were more physically
accessible compared to previous elections.42

Ugandans in the diaspora
Currently, there is no legal framework in place to support voting for Ugandans who
reside abroad. According to Electoral Commission Chairman, Badru Kiggundu, the
Commission is concerned that Ugandans abroad do not have the opportunity to elect
their leaders, but with the current laws in place does not have the mandate to organise
an election for Ugandans in the diaspora. 43 According to Vice President Edward
Ssekandi, the government is planning to put in place a legal framework to extend voting
rights and participation in the local electoral process to Ugandans in the diaspora. 44

1.3.3 Disenfranchisement due to material and technical shortcomings
Many voters and observers reported disenfranchisement due to material or technical
shortcomings, in particular delays in delivery of voting materials and opening of polling
stations. Polling stations were scheduled to open at 7am. However, FHRI and WLEDE

40 FHRI interview with Esther Kyozira, Programme Manager Disability and Human Rights, National Union of

Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU), on 29th April 2016.


interview with Florence Ndagire, Senior Programme Officer Advocacy, Action on Disability and
Development (ADD) International, on 29th April 2016.
42 FHRI interviews with Esther Kyozira, Programme Manager Disability and Human Rights, National Union
of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU), and Florence Ndagire, Senior Programme Officer Advocacy, Action
on Disability and Development (ADD) International, on 29th April 2016.
41 FHRI

43 Daily Monitor, Ugandans in in Diaspora wont vote, says Kiggundu, by Stephen Wandera, 13th

August 2015, retrieved from: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Ugandans-in-Diaspora-


wont-vote-says-Kiggundu/-/688334/2829886/-/122gmg6z/-/index.html.
44
Parliament
of
Uganda,
Ugandans abroad to vote, retrieved
from:
http://www.parliament.go.ug/new/index.php/about-parliament/parliamentary-news/257-
ugandans-abroad-to-vote on 7th June 2016.

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observers noted delays in voting procedures at 85% of the polling stations observed.45
CEON-U noted that at 8am, only 59% of polling stations had opened.46

Delays in voting were particularly problematic in Kampala and Wakiso districts where
voting at certain polling stations started as late as 3pm due to delays in arrival of
materials. The Electoral Commission argued that the reasons for delays at polling
stations in Wakiso and Kampala districts were delays in printing due to new designs of
the declaration of results (DR) forms and the prioritization of remote polling stations:

The management of the DR form is not an easy thing. It is one of the most sensitive
documents that go in the ballot box. This time around we even had to inculcate a
special design in the DR form. So many features were put in, something that
affected our printing rate. [A]nd we had to start with the farthest district
because of territorial difficulties, communication difficulties. I dont know if any
one of you has been to Buku. You may have to go through Kenya. So we think of the
furthest districts ahead of Kampala, because Kampala even if it is early in the
morning you can run. We have this country ringed: outer ring, intermediate ring
and the center. But even in the center, not all was affected. I remember we
delivered materials in Nakawa around 2am and in the central around the same
time. So every time you introduce features to control forms like the DR, something
is bound to happen. We lost about two days in printing because of the new
designs.47

The Supreme Court, however, argued in its ruling of the presidential election petition
that the failure to deliver polling materials to polling stations within such close
proximity to the [Electoral] Commission was evidence of incompetence and gross
inefficiency by the electoral body.48

Monitor Publications Ltd

Long queues at a polling station in Kampala during the presidential election on 18th February
2016


The significant delays in certain polling stations resulted in the decision by the Electoral
Commission to extend the close of polling stations from 4pm to 7pm, and for certain

45 FHRI and WLEDE deployed 118 election day observers at 118 polling stations in 57 districts. See: FHRI &

WLEDE, Preliminary Statement 2016 General Elections Election Day Observation Opening of Polling
Stations, 20th February 2016.
46 CEON-U, Preliminary Findings on Opening and Set-up Process, issued on 18th February 2016, p. 1.
47 FHRI interview with Dr Badru Kiggundu, Chairperson Electoral Commission, on 13th May 2016.
48 Amama Mbabazi v. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Electoral Commission, and the Attorney General,
Presidential Election Petition No. 1 of 2016, Supreme Court of Uganda, 31 st March 2016.

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polling stations even extended voting to the next day. However, many voters had lost
confidence in the process, and many of these polling stations registered a low voter turn
up. For instance, Crispy Kaheru, coordinator of Citizens Coalition for Electoral
Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU), warned that such delays may lead to
disenfranchisement as voters walk away from polling stations and chances of people
returning after leaving are low.49 Basalirwa Asuman, President of Justice Forum (JEEMA)
noted the same:

You know the voting process, someone will wake up very early in the morning to
go and vote, and then go and do some other work. If somebody comes to a polling
station at 7[am] and wants to vote, and waits up to 10[am], because he has to
work, he will go away because you have delayed. Your inaction has led that person
not to vote. Such cases were there.50

It has been widely argued that the delays in Wakiso and Kampala districts were
deliberate, being strongholds of the opposition:

Having spoken to people who were involved in the process, it was a process of
voter suppression in areas where there was high opposition support, in particular
the areas of Kampala and Wakiso that had nearly 2 million voters that were seen
to be opposition strongholds. Having voting delayed in some places for more than 6
hours and some places more than 8 hours, quite obviously affected turn out. People
who came and lined up and went away and just gave up because they could not
line up the whole day. If you look at the figures of the people w ho turned up to vote
in the areas of Kampala and Wakiso, you see a very low turn up of voters compared
to registered voters. So it did have the effect of suppressing votes in Kampala and
Wakiso, areas which were seen to be strongholds of the opposition. It is
inconceivable that the Electoral Commission could deliver voting materials in
Mbarara which is 4 hours west of Kampala and fail to deliver voting materials in
Ggaba, which is 20 minutes away from the Electoral Commission. It is just
inconceivable. It was calculated to suppress voters.51

Hon. Winnie Kiiza, FDC Member of Parliament, experienced the same in Kasese district,
another opposition stronghold:

Some materials came even at midday. Some stations started late because the ones
[polling officials] who had been put at the polling station to control the machines
were not able to operate the machines. In some areas it was deliberate, and I
would say in Kasese specifically. People have always known where the opposition is
popular. So in delaying to bring us the materials, I do not just take it quietly or
innocently. I know it was intended. There are people who missed out on voting.
Those who had come early. We had told our people to come very early in the
morning. You cannot just stay at a polling station from morning until evening.
People had other work to do on that same day. So those who had come early in the
morning prepared to vote, cast the first vote and go do other work; they left. At the
end of the day they did not vote.52

49 Daily Monitor, EC extends poll hours due to delays, by Solomon Arinaitwe, 19th February 2016, p. 9.

50 FHRI interview with Basalirwa Asuman, Party President of JEEMA (Justice Forum) and Counsel for Go

Forward, on 5th April 2016.

51 FHRI interview with Nicholas Opiyo, Executive Director, Chapter Four, on 11th April 2016.
52 FHRI interview with Hon. Winifred Kiiza, Woman MP Kasese district, on 15th April 2016.

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Other material or technical shortcomings resulting in disenfranchisement of voters


included incomplete or incorrect ballots papers,53 and failure of biometric machines.54

1.3.4 Disenfranchisement due to intimidation
It has also been asserted as in previous elections that heavy deployment of security
forces scared away people from exercising their right to vote. For instance, in Masindi
the presence of armed soldiers left some voters scared. One resident said that the
presence of the armed policemen near his polling station in Kihande I village had scared
him from exercising his right to vote.55 Further, in Kinyogoga trading centre in Nakaseke
district, gun-wielding soldiers threatened voters at four polling stations56 According to
Mwambutsya Ndebesa, lecturer of history at Makerere University:

You create an atmosphere of intimidation where the voters, especially the local
people or the peasants in the countryside, are easy to intimidate because they have
a very high sense of survival and when you are going into an election with threats
of intimidation, people may say that I am not gong to vote different from the
current regime because we are likely to be beaten or be denied access to
resources.57

Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP), Asan Kasingye, however, argued that
security was never meant to scare any voters away from the election process:

The purpose of security was never to scare anyone from voting because if we
scared anyone from voting, then who would vote? Why would there be voting in
any case? If security was to scare away people from voting, now whom would I
scare and whom would I not scare? So it is not that. I do not think a policeman
would wake up in the morning, see somebody, unless you are putting on party
colours, that is if police were partisan, then they could say I can see you are going
to vote so and so and I do not want you to vote so and so, then I would scare you.
The visible police and other security agencies on the roads and everywhere was to
ensure that there is law and order, that the country is peaceful. So the purpose
was really for the protection of people to exercise their right without fear or favour
but not to scare away people. Two, we continued to tell people that this is how we
are going to be deployed. Remember we were very assertive, we were on air; people
knew that security was going to be there.58

1.3.5 Interference due to vote stuffing and other electoral offenses
The right to vote during the 2016 elections was further undermined due to alleged
widespread irregularities in the voting process, including voter bribery, multiple voting,
stuffing ballot boxes with pre-ticked ballots, and altering of results.

53 For instance, scores of voters in Mawogola County in Sembabule District boycotted the elections after the

sudden cancellation of the voting for their directly elected Member of Parliament due to a mix up in the
particulars of the candidate on the ballot papers. See: Daily Monitor, Voting shunned after MP poll is
cancelled, by Monitor Team, 19th February 2016, p. 11.
54 In Apac and Alebtong districts the biometric machines failed to work at most polling stations. At Acela
PAG Church polling station in Akura sub-county, Alebtong district, voting was delayed for more than five
hours as the electronic machines failed to identify 767 voters during the presidential and parliamentary
elections. See: Daily Monitor, Biometric machines fail to verify Lango voters, by Bill Oketch, 19th February
2016, p. 16.
55 Daily Monitor, Army presence scares away Masindi voters, by Monitor Team, 19th February 2016, p. 12.
56 The Observer, How the February 18 general election was rigged, by Sadab Kitatta Kaaya, 29th February
1st March 2016, p. 4.
57 FHRI interview with Mwambutsya Ndebesa, Lecturer of History at Makerere University, on 19th April
2016.
58 FHRI interview with Asan Kasingye, Assistant Inspector General of Police and Director of Interpol Uganda,
on 15th April 2016.

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CEON-U observers reported voter bribery in 53% of the constituencies observed.59
According to the observers, voter bribery was particularly widespread among NRM
parliamentary candidates agents, with 48% of observers reporting this vice. 60 The most
common forms of bribery reported were giving out money, sugar, soap, and clothes in
exchange for votes.61

CEON-U further reported mismanagement of electoral materials in Gulu, among other
places. In Acet trading centre, Omoro constituency, Gulu district, 10 ballot boxes were
found in a shop by police. The suspect and ballot boxes were taken to Gulu Central Police
Station for further investigations.62 At Awere in Gulu district, voters alleged that they
were being given pre-ticked ballot papers in favour of NRM MP candidate Jacob
Oulanyah.63

In Rakai, the district returning officer, Daniel Baguma, noted on 19th February 2016, that
he had received information from one of his presiding officers that armed men raided a
polling station at Kibuuka in Lwamaggwa sub-county and stuffed pre-ticked ballots in
the ballot box. According to Baguma, the armed men first fired bullets in the air to
disperse onlookers. When it was safe for them they opened the ballot boxes and stuffed
them with pre-ticked ballots in favour of NRM candidates. This was not the only incident
in Rakai district. Results from Kaleere polling station in Dwaniro sub-county showed
that 605 people had voted, yet the register has only 205 voters. Similarly, results from
Kyakatuuma polling station in Kakuuto sub-county returned a total of 349 votes against
294 registered voters, while Lusonji polling station in Lwamaggwa sub-county tallied
714 votes against 708 registered voters and Migo polling station in Lwamaggwa sub-
county had a total tally of 400 votes compared to 389 registered voters.64

The DR forms do not indicate the total number of voters registered at the polling station.
These discrepancies between total registered voters and votes cast are therefore not
always recorded. To enhance reliability of results this would be a valuable addition to
include in the DR forms in future elections.

Nicholas Opiyo, Executive Director of Chapter Four, argues that advanced access to the
register by NRM candidates has resulted in many of the discrepancies in the registers
found at the constituency level:

Every ruling party candidate who goes into election, goes into election with what
they call a packing list, which is a copy of the register of your constituency. So they
have prior access to the register, showing population distribution, polling stations
that have the bigger number of voters. So the NRM party always has a packing list
which is a photo copy of the register. It is one and the same, for all of their
candidates going into elections, even before they are nominated. It is usually this
register that is used to gerrymander elections in constituencies. There is no doubt
about it that is what happened in the past election. NRM candidates were given
this register, like was done to crime preventers, and they were used to
gerrymander elections, and in some cases in my view to rig elections, including
removal of peoples names from the register, even without following the right
procedure for removal of names. Because if I am to remove someones name from

59 CEON-U, May 2016, op. cit. p. 55.
60 Ibid.

61 Ibid., p. 116.
62 Ibid., p. 117.
63 Ibid.

64 The Observer, Where votes outnumbered voters, by Sadab Kitatta Kaaya, 22nd-23rd February 2016, p. 7.

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the register, there is a whole tribunal for that purpose. That tribunal is appointed
by the Chief Justice. You put that tribunal together. You must have a hearing why
somebodys name should be removed, if they were dead. So without recourse to
that procedure, many people have found their names missing from the register.
And it was really a result of the NRM team and the crime preventers having
advanced access to the register, and using it for their own purposes to
disenfranchise opposition leaning candidates or individuals.65


There were even reports of altering results in full view of security forces. For instance, a
polling official in Sembabule district reported that they caught persons changing the
declaration form in the presence of the District Police Commander (DPC), and that the
soldiers and police present were actually protecting the persons who were altering the
results.66

According to Charles Ssebyala, LC III Chairman for Luweero town council, soldiers at
Kaweweta army barracks in Nakaseke district, stood in line and picked an already-
ticked ballot from an officer in plain clothes. Gen. Benon Biraaro experienced a similar
situation:

In Nyabushozi my contacts called me and told me that they went to the poll and
they had finished voting by 11 or midday. Why? They were stuffing and the people
who went at midday were told that we know your party and we have voted for you
and the people were shy and did not insist.67

At Ruhoko Health Centre II Polling Station in Ntungamo district, voters were requested
to line up according to the MP candidate they support:

I found they had made two lines for voters, yet it is not allowed. I tried to
investigate why they had done so and even the voters were angry asking why they
were making two lines. According to the information that we got, the presiding
officer was corrupted or compromised and he asked people to line in accordance to
the people they support so he would chose from one line he is favouring. The lines
were targeting the MP candidates.68

This was only one among many incidents reported in Ntungamo district. It was further
noted that the NRM MP candidate, Yona Musinguzi, was pre-ticking ballot papers:

At Nyamisha polling station nobody was voting apart from the MP [Yona
Musinguzi] and his supporters. They were ticking and taking (sic) the ballot papers
in the ballot box. Even some polling assistants were slapped for refusing to hand
over ballot papers. Hon. Yona slapped one of the poling assistants twice.69

The Electoral Commission did interfere by nullifying results from several polling
stations in Ntungamo district where irregularities had taken place:

65 FHRI interview with Nicholas Opiyo, Executive Director, Chapter Four, on 11th April 2016.

66 The Observer, How the February 18 general election was rigged, by Sadab Kitatta Kaaya, 29th February

1st March 2016, p. 4.

67 FHRI interview with General Benon Biraaro, former presidential candidate for the Farmers Party, on 24th

March 2016.

68 FHRI interview with Edward Natamba, Ntungamo district coordinator CEON-U long-term observers, on

11th March 2016.

69 Ibid.

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A CALL FOR ACTION

There is one polling station called Catholic Social Centre, he [Yona Musinguzi]
went there and took a ballot box, so they nullified the station. He did the same to
Ruhoko Health Centre II where he initially shot bullets. He came back in the
evening, dispersed people and took another ballot box but he did not know that he
had not taken the declaration forms. The forms remained there and when they
reached Rukungiri Road, they realized that they had not taken the declaration
forms and they dumped the box. That was where they retrieved the box. The
district register nullified results from three polling stations. He nullified results
from the Catholic Social Centre, from Nyamisha where Hon Yona fought us from,
and from Kahunga I Primary Polling Station. At Kahunga, the registrar himself
found over 20 Yona supporters ticking ballot papers from the polling station.70


1.3.6 Secrecy of the vote
Another element of the right to vote is secrecy of the vote, which is particularly
important in a political environment where opposition activists and supporters have
often been targeted and been subjected to intimidation and harassment. Secrecy of the
vote was largely adhered to during the 2016 elections. However, in a significant number
of polling stations, secrecy of the vote was not safeguarded. For instance, the European
Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) noted that in 11 per cent of observed
polling stations, the lay out compromised secrecy of the vote.71


1.4 CONCLUSION

The 2016 elections witnessed a number of violations of the right to vote, most notably
due to late delivery of materials in Kampala and Wakiso districts, described by the
Supreme Court as evidence of incompetence and gross inefficiency by the electoral
management body. A number of potential voters were disenfranchised during the voting
exercise, in particular persons who turned 18 between May 2015 and February 2016,
detainees including those in pre-trial detention and Ugandans in the diaspora. The right
to vote was furthermore infringed by widespread voter bribery, multiple voting, stuffing
of ballot boxes with pre-ticked ballots and altering of results. Other factors hampering
the full realization of the right to vote were a highly disputed NVR with many persons
complaining about missing names, and intimidation by security forces scaring away
voters from the exercise.

It can therefore be concluded that the administration of elections still has a long way to
go in order to fully realise the right to vote for all eligible Ugandans, in particular in
ensuring that voting starts on time to avoid persons walking away due to long queuing
times, and ensuring that everyone has the ability to cast their votes in an environment
free of fear, intimidation and bribery.

70 Ibid.
71 EU

Election Observation Mission, Uganda Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council Elections,
Preliminary Statement, Kampala, 20th February 2016, p. 11.

25
CHAPTER ONE
RIGHT TO VOTE

25

CHAPTER TWO

RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF
EXPRESSION
[P]rotection of the right to freedom of expression is of great significance
to democracy. It is the bedrock of democratic governance. Meaningful
participation of the governed in their governance, which is the hallmark
of democracy, is only assured through optimal exercise of the freedom of
expression.
- Hon. J.N. Mulenga, Supreme Court Justice Constitutional Appeal No. 2 of 2002

2.1 INTRODUCTION
The right to freedom of expression includes the freedom to seek, receive and impart
information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in
print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.72 The Constitution
guarantees every person the right to freedom of speech and expression which shall
include freedom of the press and other media.73

The Constitution further provides that every citizen has a right of access to information
in the possession of the State or any other organ or agency of the State except where the
release of the information is likely to prejudice the security or sovereignty of the State or
interfere with the right to the privacy of any other person.74

2.2 TREND SINCE 2006

Despite the liberalisation of the media in Uganda and the constitutional guarantees to
freedom of expression and freedom of the media, freedom of expression and
independence and impartiality of the media have been under threat, especially during
election periods.

With the return to multi-party politics and in the lead up to the 2006 elections, freedom
of the press deteriorated significantly (Figure 1).75 Again, in 2011 another spike can be
noted, and Uganda has slowly been moving towards a situation where the press is
categorised as not free (score 61 or higher).

Figure 1: Press Freedom Index Uganda (2005-2015)

60
55

52

50
45

54

53

53

54

57
54

58

55

56

57

44

40
35

2005 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
(Source: Freedom House Press Freedom Index)


In 2005/2006, during the campaign period, the police reportedly interfered with
commercial broadcasting on four separate occasions, including confiscation of a tape
from WBS Television of an FDC campaign documentary, interference in a paid-for talk
show of Radio Pacis in Arua, prohibiting Radio Veritas in Soroti from broadcasting
coverage of election day because it was airing unverifiable election violations collected

72 Article 19(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966.
73 Article 29(1)(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995.
74 Ibid., Article 41(1).

75 Scores 0-30 indicate an environment with free press, 31-60 a partly free environment and 61-100 an

environment where the press is not free.

CHAPTER TWO
27
RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

27

from callers, and the jamming of KFM radios frequency for releasing unofficial results
collected by observers. These actions were taken by security forces without
consideration of a complaints procedure such as referring the matter to the
Broadcasting Council or Electoral Commission. 76 In addition, journalists faced
widespread interference and harassment, most notably arrests and criminal charges
relating to sedition and promoting sectarianism. 77 Government interference was
particularly noted in relation to the trial of Dr Besigye. On 23 rd November 2005, the
Ministry of Information issued a directive prohibiting media houses from running any
stories on Besigye.78

Following the trend recorded in 2006, the period in the run up to the 2011 elections saw
a downward spiral in respect of the freedom of expression. Overzealous security officers
and RDCs on numerous occasions threatened and issued orders to media aimed at
preventing publication and broadcasting of stories related to opposition.79 For instance,
Bunyoros Kibaale-Kagadi Community radio (KDR) was taken off-air shortly after an
opposition candidate was hosted, and the owners of Radio Rhino and Voice of Lango in
Lira district, were interrogated by police for having hosted civil society activists seeking
to expose corruption scandals. 80 The EU Election Observation Mission reported 40
election-related incidents affecting media freedom, most notably physical attacks on
journalists. 81 This led to self-censorship and hence a decline in criticism of the
government by the media.

Access to information
In 2005, the Access to Information Act was enacted. The Act aims to enforce the
constitutional provision guaranteeing the right of access to information through inter
alia promoting transparency and accountability in all organs of the State by providing
the public with timely, accessible and accurate information.82 In 2011, the Act was fully
operationalised with the adoption of the Access to Information Regulations. The
Regulations, however, have been criticized for making accessing information in
possession of the state unnecessarily costly and cumbersome, undermining the practical
significance of Article 41 of the Constitution and the Access to Information Act.83

The government, however, did introduce a number of initiatives that ease access to
information. For instance, in August 2014, the government launched Ask Your
Government Uganda an online website designed to help members of the public obtain
information from public authorities.84 The website allows the public to submit requests
to a variety of government institutions and agencies. The website also allows one to
view requests and answers previously provided to make information readily available. It

76 European Union Election Observation Mission Uganda: Final Report on the Presidential and
Parliamentary Elections, 2006, p. 29.
77 Human Rights Watch, In Hope and Fear: Ugandas Presidential and Parliamentary Polls, February 2006,
pp. 19-20.
78 Ibid., p. 20.
79 FHRI, The Long Road to Realizing Labour Rights In Uganda, op. cit., p. 78.
80 European Union Election Observation Mission, 2011, op. cit. p. 27.
81 Ibid.
82 Section 3(d) of the Access to Information Act, 2005.
83 The Regulations require applicants to pay a number of fees that go beyond the specific charge for copying
and preparing information. Most notably, applicants must pay a non-refundable access fee of UGX 20,000.
This is a substantial investment for most citizens, particularly since the applicant risks losing the entire sum
if the request is not granted. Furthermore, Schedule 2 of the Regulations provides 15 different forms to be
used in the process of requesting information. This threatens to make requesting information unnecessarily
cumbersome. Also, the forms require applicants to fill in their names and address, eliminating the option of
submitting anonymous requests.
84 Askyourgov.ug

28

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RIGHTS AND ELECTIONS IN UGANDA (2016)
HUMAN
A CALL FOR ACTION

is doubtful that sensitive information will be disseminated through this channel, but it is
nonetheless a commendable initiative to improve access to information.

2.3 FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION DURING THE 2016 ELECTION PERIOD

Incidences of attacks on and harassment of journalists were reported throughout the


election period. According to Robert Ssempala, Coordinator of Human Rights Network
for Journalists (HRNJ-Uganda), the environment is becoming more restrictive because
during the 2011 elections overall cases recorded in that year were about 124, while
between the period of October 2015 and February 2016 we recorded over 100 cases in a
period of just a few months. 85 These cases included destruction of tools, physical
assault, intimidation, closure of a media house and three shootings of reporters:

One [journalist] was shot at while covering the arrest of the Lord Mayor, Isaac
Kagonza with Delta TV, by police. That was in Wakaliga, when Lukwago was
planning to walk to the Electoral Commission for nominations. This journalist was
hit during that scuffle. Another one was Vincent Mukisa, who works with Radio One
based in Jinja, who was shot at in Kakindu stadium when he was covering a rally by
Kizza Besigye supporters. That time that day Kizza Besigye was detained at his
home and the party members decided to convene at a designated venue but police
came and dispersed them. In the process he was shot at as he tried to seek for
safety on the side of the police. The other person was an NTV reporter based in
Mityana, Matovu. Matovu was shot in the fracas where some NRM members were
reported rigging elections in favour of the parliamentary candidates. He was there
to cover, and was shot at during that fracas.86

According to HRNJ-Uganda, the majority of the victims were targeted while on duty
reporting opposition related activities, and the main perpetrators of the violations were
the police and NRM candidates.87

Shortly before the start of the electoral period, intolerance against journalists already
manifested. Statements by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Gen. Kale Kayihura
attest to this:

I want to warn you journalists especially NTV and NBS TV who are normally
embedded in these convoys, I dont know for what reason I dont know whether
you are being journalists in the ethical sense or you are being inducted in these
parties; we are going to go against you.88

As if to implement this threat, a day later, on 15th October 2015, the police attacked
journalists who were covering the arrest of Hon. Ssemujju Nganda, Kyadondo East MP.
HRNJ-U reports that there were various arrests and incidences of violence against
journalists. For instance, the shooting and injuring of Ivan Vincent Mukisa, a journalist
with Radio One who was reporting a scuffle between the police and supporters of Dr
Kizza Besigye in Jinja.89

85 FHRI interview with Robert Ssempala, Executive Director, Human Rights Network for Journalists
Uganda (HRNJ-U), on 22nd April 2016.
86 Ibid.
87 Ibid.
88 The Observer, Police holds Besigye, Ssemujju, scribes, by Edris Kiggundu and Justus Lyatuu, 16th October
2015, p. 3.
89 Human Rights Network for Journalists, Police shoots, detains journalist and assaults others covering
opposition
politicians,
accessed
on
28th
October
2015,
available
at
https://hrnjuganda.org/2015/10/15/police-shoots-detains-journalist-and-assaults-others-covering-
opposition-politicians/.

CHAPTER TWO
29
RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

29


Alfred Ochwo, a journalist with the Observer Newspaper who was taking photographs of
the arrest of Hon. Ssemujju Nganda was also arrested on 15th October 2015. Alfred
narrated that while he was doing his work covering Ssemujjus arrest, police officers
ordered his arrest:

They ordered me to hand over my camera, which I did not. This enraged them.
Two grabbed me and bundled me onto the back of the police patrol truck and
drove off to Naggalama Police Station at a terrific speed. They [Naggalama
police officers] ordered me to remove my shoes, but before I could ask what my
crime was, the officer in charge of the cells kicked me in the legs and forcefully
removed my shoes, shouting: You want to disobey us here?90

Although Alfred was detained at Naggalama police station following the arrest, he was
never requested to make a statement nor charged. Instead, he was later driven back to
Kampala.91

Police also assaulted journalists who were streaming live telecasts of the detention of
Hon. Ssemujju Nganda at Kira Road Police Station in Kampala. One of the journalists,
Joseph Sabiiti narrated the ordeal:

The police did not want us to cover the events. They confronted us and pushed us
from the police premises all through across the road. They used force and body
amours to push us. They wanted to destroy our gadgets and interfere with our live
coverage.92

Robert Ssempala, National Coordinator of HRNJ-U, responded to the violence as follows:

The uncalled-for and unsubstantiated accusations are intended to blackmail,
criminalise and intimidate the media. The allegations are further aimed at
instilling self-censorship among independent media houses and above all, to
silence, stifle and suffocate freedom of expression.93

On 10th December 2015, journalists covering Kizza Besigye came under fire from police
in Moroto under the command of DPC George Obio, leaving the equipment of the NTV
crew destroyed. The NTV journalists were filming a roadblock that had been erected to
prevent Dr Besigye from travelling to Tapac sub-county. DPC Obia argued that it was
military equipment that could not be filmed without permission. He threatened the
journalists to bring the cameras or I am going to destroy everything, before he
attacked the journalists and destroyed their camera. Moroto Regional Police
Commander, Richard Aruk, apologized for his colleagues actions.94

On 27th February 2016, a group of journalists was arrested near Besigyes Kasangati
home, as they waited to cover an anticipated visit by former Prime Minister Amama
Mbabazi. The arrest was ordered by Kasangati DPC James Kawalya. NTV cameraman
Abubaker Zirabamuzaale and reporter Suhail Mugabi were bundled into a police van,

90 The Observer, Observer journalist arrested for covering Ssemujjus arrest, by Alfred Ochwo, 16th October

2015, p. 3.

91 Ibid.

92 Ibid.

93 The Observer, Police holds Besigye, Ssemujju, scribes, by Edris Kiggundu and Justus Lyatuu, 16th October
2015, p. 3.
94 Daily Monitor, Police attack journalists on campaign trail, by Steven Ariong and Eriasa Mukiibi, 11th
December 2015, p. 4.

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A CALL FOR ACTION

before the cops attacked Daily Monitors Eriasa Mukiibi and Abubaker Lubowa.
According to The Observers Nicholas Bamulanzeki, He [Kaweesi], told us that they
would not allow us to cover anything at Besigyes place because they had intelligence
information that both Besigye and Mbabazi had a sinister plan. After about 40 minutes,
Kaweesi released the journalists but warned them that the road leading to Besigyes
residence is a no go zone.95

Remmy Bahati narrated her experience of covering events at Besigyes residence to
FHRI:

On 1st March 2016 I was deployed to cover General Mugisha Muntu, Ingrid
Turinawe and Hon Cecilia Ogwal who had gone to see Besigye. So when we reached
there, the police like it has always been, did not want journalists to cover anything
at Besigyes residence. So we insisted and camped somewhere, still they told us to
go away but we did not. I was reporting the events live on TV. The police were
targeting me because they wanted to stop the live broadcast. So they chased me
and finally they caught up with me, overpowered me and arrested me. I was
arrested together with Ingrid and they were basically torturing Ingrid and me. For
Ingrid, her blouse was torn and she was virtually bare chest. They tortured us,
those police officers in the van, by pulling our hair, beating us and fondling our
breasts. We stayed in the van for like an hour. It was very hot. After, they took us to
Kasangati Police Station96

She added that she was threatened at the police station:

Kaweesi came for me from the cells and told me to go and stop reporting about
the opposition, and if we insist, something bad might happen to us. He actually
said, I quote: you journalists, we always tell you on several occasions to stop
covering this because it is not good for the country, it intends to incite violence. So
if you insist, journalists will start disappearing and no one will ever know your
whereabouts.97

AIGP Asan Kasingye denies that the police actively target journalists, and condemned all
acts of torture and physical attacks by police against journalists:

In my own assessment, there is no targeted action by the police against journalists
whatsoever. We do not target journalists. We actually give SOPs [Standard
Operating Procedures] to our police officers on how they can work hand in hand
with journalists. Now, you may have isolated incidences where a police officer, or
police officers, target somebody. There was an incident in Old Kampala, where the
DPC assaulted a journalist in a very bad way. We took him to court. So you cannot
say it is the police that targeted, no Mutabazi targeted as an individual, as a DPC,
and you must answer. He was in our uniform, but we never told him to do that. This
is something that we need not only to handle during elections, but we need to start
training our police officers that journalists are our friends. They have actually
helped the police in law enforcement. We are partners. Where it happened, we are
really very sorry about that. We need to continue sensitizing them, but I deny any
accusation that says the police were targeting journalists.98

95 The Observer, Besigye held after city church service, by Sadab Kitatta Kaaya, 29th February 1st March

2016, p. 6.

96 FHRI interview with Remmy Bahati, Political Reporter NBS TV, on 30th March 2016.
97 Ibid.

98 FHRI interview with Asan Kasingye, Assistant Inspector General of Police and Director of Interpol Uganda,

on 15th April 2016.

CHAPTER TWO
31
RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

31


Kasingye, however, also noted that journalists behave irresponsibly at times, and that
they should follow police directives and go to court in cases where journalists feel their
freedoms are being violated:

If they [police] say you cannot cross this area and go to the other area. I think
your duty is to report as it is: We reached at a certain point A, we wanted to go to
point B, but security stopped us, so we cannot even see what is happening in point
B. But you do not come and start fighting the police because you want to be in
point B. I think also, therefore, journalists must work hand in hand with the police.
They must comply with police directives. They can ask why, but they should not be
seen to fight security because they have to go to point B. No, report that you have
been told not to go there. We do not know why as journalists you are supposed to
be there. Why? You can even sue by the way, and say why are they stopping us? But
to fight, to be seen fighting, I dont think that is right.99

Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebagala, CEO of Unwanted Witness, however, is more sympathetic
to the plight of journalists:

What do you expect if the individual knows that there is no fair justice? What do
you expect to see if the individual is being inhumanly treated, yet you are expected
to be independent? Who is independent? The person who is arresting is a police
officer who is acting on orders. The person who has been harassed by a police
officer is going to a judge who is a cadre judge. So what do you expect? I see a sign
of a failing state because people are completely tired. They do not see
independence because the entire three arms of government are facing the
challenge of independence and credibility. The entire justice, law and order sector
is not independent. So you will find people behaving the way they want because
they are completely suffocated.100

2.3.1 Closure of media houses
In addition to attacks on journalists, the freedom of the media was also restricted
through the closure of media houses. Reportedly, the Uganda Communication
Commission (UCC) closed and seized equipment from 13 radio stations in January 2016.
According to the UCC, these media houses were closed for non-compliance with
regulations:

We gave notice to all those media houses that after expiry of this notice because of
the failure to respond to our several reminders to comply with the UCC
requirements of which amongst them is that you have to pay your licence fees,
spectrum fees and if you do not, we will close you down. So they should not hide
under the political environment not to comply with their obligations.101

For instance, on 21st January 2016, Mbarara-based Endigyito Radio was closed by the
UCC. UCC officials entered the offices and asked to check on something at the masts.
Subsequently they switched off both frequencies and confiscated the transmitters.
According to a station employee, the UCC officials claimed that they confiscated the
transmitters over alleged non-payment of 38m UGX in fees. However, according to the
owner of Endigyito Radio and Kitagwenda County MP, Nuru Byamukama, if they were

99 Ibid.

100 FHRI interview with Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebagala, CEO Unwanted Witness, on 16th May 2016.
101 FHRI

interview with Fred Otunnu, Director Corporate Affairs, Uganda Communications Commission
(UCC), on 29th April 2016.

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A CALL FOR ACTION

demanding taxes they would not have taken the machines. The radio was closed two
days after hosting Go Forward presidential candidate, Amama Mbabazi.102

The EU Election Observation Mission also reported opposition candidates being denied
access to radio broadcasts or stations in 11 districts, and biased coverage against FDC,
Democratic Party (DP) or Go Forward members in 32 districts.103 The same was also
noted by Nicholas Opiyo, Executive Director of Chapter Four:

There were several incidents especially upcountry where it is not widely reported,
where FM stations used local languages to reach out to the people. There have
been other incidents that were reported in the media here such as the blockade of
Amama Mbabazi to access the radio in Tororo, the blockade by radio Busoga to
give Kizza Besigye access to radio in Busoga. But there were several other incidents
upcountry where activists were just stopped from being on radio stations. In Lira,
for example, people were arrested in the middle of the talk show and told to get
out. In Gulu, activists like John Olomero were stopped from accessing Mega FM at
the height of the elections. So there were incidents across the country in FM
stations where individuals were being blocked from accessing the radio.104

In addition, the government also interfered with the programming of broadcasters:

We also saw the Monitor Publication being dragged to the media council by
President Museveni for accusing them of running a picture depicting him of not
having so many people and running Besigye in a picture that depicted that he had
so many people. To them that was a crime. He wrote to them and someone came to
answer to that. Yet, that is a decision of the paper which pictures to take and to
place their stories. That was a direct infringement of a freedom by the media to
conduct its professional work.105

Furthermore, on 30th November 2015, UCC ordered broadcasters to stop hosting former
presidential press secretary and presidential adviser, Tamale Mirundi. The UCC said that
Mirundi uses abusive language which is against the law and threatened to revoke the
broadcasting licenses of stations that host him. It was addressed to Star, Top Pearl,
Alpha and Impact radio stations as well as Star, Uganda Broadcasting Corporation,
Abizaayo Broadcasting Services and Nile Broadcasting Services television stations,
which routinely host Mirundi.106 Fred Otunnu, UCC Director of Corporate Affairs, noted:

The UCC Act under schedule 3 or 4 provides minimum broadcasting standards
which all media houses ought to comply with and certainly the conduct of Tamale
Mirundi did not meet the minimum standards of content to be aired to the public
because of abusive language, non-substantiated comments et cetera. So the onus
was on the media houses to ensure that the people they host have facts and observe
the decorum of using public air space. So as long as content violates the
minimum standards, it ought to be regulated and that can be done by stopping the

102 Saturday Monitor, Radio closed after Mbabazi talk show, by Alfred Tumushabe, 23rd January 2016, p. 4.
103 EU Election Observation Mission, 2016, op. cit., p. 8.

104 FHRI interview with Nicholas Opiyo, Executive Director, Chapter Four, on 11th April 2016.
105 FHRI

interview with Robert Ssempala, Executive Director, Human Rights Network for Journalists
Uganda (HRNJ-U), on 22nd April 2016.
106 Daily Monitor, UCC bocks Mirundi from TV, radio, by Nelson Bwire and Nelson Wesonga, 2nd December
2015, retrieved from: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/UCC-blocks-Mirundi-from-TV--radio/-
/688334/2980776/-/d3idi7/-/index.html.

CHAPTER TWO
33
RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

33

person who unrepentantly wants to use the same or you can hold the media houses
responsible.107


Notwithstanding the necessity of the media to report responsibly, the right to freedom
of expression is not limited to correct opinions, sound ideas or truthful information but
also extends to statements thought by others to be false, erroneous, controversial or
unpleasant, as the Supreme Court ruled in Charles Onyango Obbo and another v Attorney
General.108

By denying certain candidates access to media, one effectively denies the electorate the
ability to make an informed choice. For instance, Nicholas Opiyo noted:

In areas like Karamoja for example, it is difficult to reach everybody because of
the bad roads. So you can only reach them through radio stations. So it inhibited
those candidates from getting their information or messages across to people who
would not be able to attend their rallies that are always held in town centres. But
also you need to appreciate the role that local language FM stations play across
the country. It is now the predominant means of accessing people and for
conveying information and accessing information. Newspapers do not have a wide
circulation. In terms of access, local language FM stations is now the main medium
of access to information by many people. So to deny people access to those radio
stations, is to deny them the platform to convey their messages to the wider
population.109

2.3.2 Interference with social media
Increasingly, people not only access information through traditional media outlets such
as TV, radio and newspapers, but also through social media platforms such as Facebook
and Twitter. The space on social media platforms seems more conducive for free speech
and critical reporting. For instance, Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebagala, CEO of Unwanted
Witness, noted:

The media in general was not independent. We were only left with online space or
online social media like Twitter, Facebook and even others for people to express
their independent opinion because the traditional media was intimidated. That is
why even the internet was shattered because the government or those who were
still holding public offices felt a bit threatened because there was a lot of criticism;
sharing information and free speech really flourished online.110

This has resulted in new measurements to restrict freedom of expression. Police
arrested and charged several political activists for using offensive communication on
social media platforms, particularly those who were pro-opposition.

For instance, on 11th January 2016, police indicated that they were investigating Charles
Rwomushana, a former intelligence operative with the Internal Security Organisation
(ISO), for publishing hate speech on his social media platforms. Rwomushana was
arrested on 8th January 2016 on separate charges of circulating a photograph with
features of a dead man resembling at the time missing Christopher Aine. Police say that
in addition, Rwomushana has been inciting hatred against members of the Basongora

107 FHRI interview with Fred Otunnu, Director Corporate Affairs, Uganda Communications Commission
(UCC), on 29th April 2016.
108 Charles Onyango Obbo and another v. Attorney General, Supreme Court, (Constitutional Appeal No. 2 of
2002), 2004.
109 FHRI interview with Nicholas Opiyo, Executive Director, Chapter Four, on 11th April 2016.
110 FHRI interview with Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebagala, CEO Unwanted Witness, on 16th May 2016.

34

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HUMAN
A CALL FOR ACTION

tribe in Western Uganda, but did not disclose details on the hateful statements in
question.111

Robert Shaka, disguising as Tom Voltaire Okwalinga, a government critic on social
media, was charged on 20th June 2015 for using offensive communication by posting
statements on Facebook regarding President Musevenis health condition.112

This government wrote to Facebook owners to reveal the identity of Tom Voltaire
Okwalinga. They have also written over other issues relating to releasing
background information of social media users. So government is targeting this
platform because as much as they have managed successfully some other critical
and free independent media houses (sic), they have not been successful on the front
of social media. And they are designing all means possible to control this space,
which is certainly a blatant abuse of freedom of expression and the media.113

Even more alarming was the shutdown of all social media services during Election Day
and again during the swearing in of President Museveni on 12 th May 2016. On 18th
February 2016, the day of the Presidential and Parliamentary elections, the Uganda
Communications Commission (UCC) directed all telecom companies to switch off mobile
money and social media services. Godfrey Mutabazi, UCC Executive Director, confirmed
that UCC had ordered the disabling of mobile money and social media services for
security reasons. President Museveni said that those must be steps taken for security.
You know some people misuse social media platforms. But it is temporary and it will go
away.114

On 21st February 2016, the UCC explained it had received instructions from security
agencies to disable access to social media sites and slow down internet but added it was
in the interest of the wider public, their safety and property. In the UCC statement,
Godfrey Mutabazi, UCC Executive Director, quoted section 5(1)(b) and (x) of the UCC Act
2013, which he argued empowered the regulator to direct telecommunication
companies and internet service providers to curb further proliferation of harmful
content on the internet and social media. 115 According to Fred Otunnu, Director
Corporate Affairs, UCC:

This was the best alternative, and remember blockage of social media is not only
akin to Uganda. We are not saying that it is the best way of going around doing
business, but it becomes desirable if the situation warrants that.116

Otunnu referred to, for instance, the U nited Kingdom (UK) considering restricting social
media during riots following the 2011 London riots. The UK government, however,
decided against it and instead chose to prosecute those persons who misused social
media to incite rioting.

111 Daily Monitor, Rwomushana faces hate-speech charges, by Andrew Bagala, 12th January 2016, retrieved

from:
http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Rwomushana-faces-hate-speech-charges/-
/688334/3029510/-/1snjwiz/-/index.html.
112 Daily Monitor, Social media critics case set for trial, by Abubaker Lubowa, 8th January 2016, retrieved
from:
http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Social-media-critic-s-case-set-for-trial/-
/688334/3025118/-/s8k3ndz/-/index.html.
113 FHRI interview with Robert Ssempala, Executive Director, Human Rights Network for Journalists
Uganda (HRNJ-U), on 22nd April 2016.
114 New Vision, Ugandans stranded as mobile money, social media are blocked, by Chris Kiwawulo and Mary
Karugaba, 19th February 2016, p. 9.
115 Daily Monitor, UCC defends social media blockade, by Ivan Okuda, 22nd February 2016, p. 10.
116 FHRI interview with Fred Otunnu, Director Corporate Affairs, Uganda Communications Commission
(UCC), on 29th April 2016.

CHAPTER TWO
35
RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

35


According to Ssempala, the UCCs directive to block social media violated the right to
According
Ssempala, the UCCs directive to block social media violated the right to
freedom of to
expression:
freedom
o
f
e
xpression:

was absolutely wrong. It took many Ugandans by surprise. It occasioned a
It
It
was absolutely wrong. It took many Ugandans by surprise. It occasioned
a
grievous harm to many people who were engaged in elections. Some officials
had
grievous harm to many people who were engaged in elections. Some officials
had
hoped to use mobile money to send money for transport and facilitation to their
hoped
mobile
money to
money Afor
transport
and facilitation
agents. to
So use
they
got stranded
in tsend
he process.
s an
organisation
we teamed to
up their
with
agents. So they got stranded in the process. As an organisation we teamed up with
Legal Brains Trust to go to court over this. We challenged the actions of the UCC.
Legal Brains Trust to go to court over this. We challenged the actions of the UCC.
UCC is not independent. It has on a number of occasions come out when the
UCC
is not
has on a about
number
of occasions
come
President
or independent.
the IGP have cIt
omplained
a certain
personality
in tout
he mwhen
edia othe
r a
President
o
r
t
he
I
GP
h
ave
c
omplained
a
bout
a

c
ertain
p
ersonality
i
n
t
he
m
edia obut
r a
particular media house. They are not initially nurturing the media to grow
particular
media
house.
They
initially
nurturing and
the amedia
to grow
but
they
are using
their
position
to are
stifle not
media
independence
ct on partisan
lines,
they
a
re
u
sing
t
heir
p
osition
t
o
s
tifle
m
edia
i
ndependence
a
nd
a
ct
o
n
p
artisan
l
ines,
117
especially from the politicians.
especially from the politicians.117

Ssebagala holds a similar opinion:
Ssebagala
holds a similar opinion:


The international legal framework provides those standards clearly and one of
The
legal framework provides those standards clearly and one of
them international
unless there is going to be an insurgency or a coup and none of those were
them
unless there is going to be an insurgency or a coup and none of those were
about to happen because it was about the people deciding, criticising or auditing
about to happen because it was about the people deciding, criticising or auditing
manifestos as per those who were campaigning. To us it brings in the aspect of the
manifestos as pof
er the
those
who were campaigning.
To ubecause
s it brings
in twhen
he aspect
of the
independence
Communications
Commission
even
you check
independence of the Communications Commission because even when you check
there is no written directive or request by the security apparatus to the UCC. Even
there is no written directive or request by the security apparatus to the UCC. Even
if
it is the President it has to be written and whatever reasoning or whatever
if
it is the
President
it has
has to
to be
be justifiably
written and
whatever
or Mutabaazi
whatever
ground
they
are using
stated.
There reasoning
is no way
ground
they
are
using
has
to
be
justifiably
stated.
There
is
no
way
Mutabaazi
[Executive Director UCC] who is appointed by the Minister appointed by the
[Executive
who
appointed
by the Minister appointed by the
118
President is Director
going to dUCC]
efy such
an is
order.
118
President
i
s
g
oing
t
o
d
efy
s
uch
a
n
o
rder.

AIGP Asan Kasingye, however, argued that it was necessary for national security:
AIGP Asan Kasingye, however, argued that it was necessary for national security:

This was the first election ever that was conducted with the prevalence and
This
was the
first melection
that
was conducted
with
and
emergence
of social
edia in Uever
ganda.
During
2011 we had
not the
seen prevalence
social media
of
emergence
o
f
s
ocial
m
edia
i
n
U
ganda.
D
uring
2
011
w
e
h
ad
n
ot
s
een
s
ocial
m
edia
of
this magnitude, of Whatsapp, Twitter, Facebook, all this. Now, either people are
this
magnitude,
of
Whatsapp,
Twitter,
Facebook,
all
this.
Now,
either
people
are
learning to use social media or people do not understand how social media
learning and
to use
social
media
people do
not
understand
how media
social can
media
operate,
as a
result
in a or
democracy
like
ours
where social
be
operate, sometimes
and as a result
in a to democracy
like
ours good
where
social the
media
can evil.
be
abused,
you have
balance the
social
against
social
abused,
sometimes
you
have
to
balance
the
social
good
against
the
social
evil.
Social media was being used to cause insecurity. It was being used to instigate
Social
media
was
being
used
cause
insecurity.
It was being
used to of
instigate
violence.
It was
being
used
to to
cast
doubt
on the fairness
and freedom
people
violence.
It
was
being
used
to
cast
doubt
on
the
fairness
and
freedom
of
people
expressing their right to vote. So security weighed the social good against
the
expressing
vote.
So p
security
social
good social
against
the
social
evil, atheir
nd I tright
hink tto
hey
said
that
robably weighed
it is not rthe
ight
to curtail
media
social
e
vil,
a
nd
I

t
hink
t
hey
s
aid
t
hat
p
robably
i
t
i
s
n
ot
r
ight
t
o
c
urtail
s
ocial
m
edia
but I think would (sic) be stopping a more disastrous situation if we did it than if
but I think would (sic) be stopping a more disastrous situation if we did it than if
we
left it.119
we
left it.119

The government and security forces in particular, therefore, seem to take a strong
The
government
and choosing
security forces
in particular,
therefore,
seem
to take
strong
preventive
approach,
to restrict
fundamental
freedoms
in order
to a prevent
preventive
approach,
choosing
to
restrict
fundamental
freedoms
in
order
to
prevent
possible negative outcomes, rather than prosecuting perpetrators if those negative
possible
outcomes negative
become aoutcomes,
reality. rather than prosecuting perpetrators if those negative
outcomes
b
ecome
a
reality.



117
F HRI
interview
with
Robert
Ssempala,

Executive Director, Human Rights Network for Journalists
117
FHRI (HRNJ-U),
interview on
with
Ssempala,
Uganda
22ndRobert
April 2016.

Executive Director, Human Rights Network for Journalists

118
Uganda
22Gndeoffrey
April 2W
016.
FHRI (iHRNJ-U),
nterview own ith
okulira Ssebagala, CEO Unwanted Witness, on 16th May 2016.
118
FHRI interview with Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebagala, CEO Unwanted Witness, on 16th May 2016.
119
FHRI

interview with Asan Kasingye, Assistant Inspector General of Police and Director of Interpol
Kasingye, Assistant Inspector General of Police and Director of Interpol
Uganda, on 15th April 2016.

119
FHRI ointerview
with
Asan
Uganda,
n 15th April
2016.

36

36
36
RIGHTS AND ELECTIONS IN UGANDA (2016)
HUMAN
A CALL FOR ACTION

Raid on FDC offices


The same was seen when the police raided the FDC headquarters on 19th February 2016,
following intelligence information that the FDC wanted to illegally announce the
outcome of the election. Police fired tear gas and bullets to disperse the crowd that had
gathered at the FDC offices, and arrested Dr Kizza Besigye, Gen. Mugisha Muntu and
Ingrid Turinawe. According to Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander, Andrew Felix
Kaweesi, they arrested Besigye under preventive arrest, and they would keep him
detained until the results would be announced on 20th February 2016 to prevent him
from causing civil obedience.120

The police, therefore, severely restricted the rights to freedom of expression and the
right to liberty in order to prevent a possible illegality, yet releasing information on
results from polling stations does not necessarily constitute an illegality. It would only
be unlawful if a party other than the Electoral Commission would claim to be
announcing the official outcome of the election. Ssempala holds a similar opinion:

What is illegal in this particular circumstance is announcing results and
announcing candidates and declaring them. It is absolutely ok to announce that
this person polled 300 votes in Rubaga, and that person 200. But to say this person
won the election in this poll is the preserve of the Commission. So the police did not
even allow anyone to announce what they had projected as their results. So that
was an illegal assault on the office of the FDC.121

Hon. Winnie Kiiza was also of the opinion that police should not act on speculations:

Why did they just speculate? What were they fearing? Why did they not wait for
the Electoral Commission to take us to court? Maybe they knew they were doing
something really wrong. So they had to clear their backyard before anybody saw
the data.122

This implies the use of a double standard by police and other security operatives. When
journalists are reporting sensitive events, the authorities often interfere, saying that the
journalists should follow police directives and take it up with court if they feel their
rights are being violated, yet when police is suspicious that some journalists or
politicians may end up violating a law, it is justifiable in their eyes to interfere in their
operations and (violently) shut down any related activities, instead of letting them carry
out their profession and take those who actually do violate the laws to court.

Robert Ssempala also argues that instead of interfering in the right to freedom of
expression to prevent any possible illegalities from taking place, to take journalists and
others who have erred to court:

We have always invited police to arrest in a decent way any journalist who is
suspected of committing any crime and taking them to court so that they can be
heard fairly before a competent court. But they have not done this on most
occasions. If a journalist has defamed another person in their media work that
journalist can be taken to court. If a journalist has carried a story that
compromises the safety and security of Ugandans, or that is likely to cause ethnic
cleansing, mass murders, certainly such journalists can be tried in court, but we

Vision, Besigye, Muntu, 100 others arrested, by Simon Masaba and Eddie Ssejjoba, 20th
February 2016, p. 2.
121 FHRI interview with Robert Ssempala, Executive Director, Human Rights Network for Journalists
Uganda (HRNJ-U), on 22nd April 2016.
122 FHRI interview with Hon. Winifred Kiiza, Woman MP Kasese district, on 15th April 2016.
120 Saturday

CHAPTER TWO
37
RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

37

have not had all these cases take shape in Uganda. The journalists that have been
attacked have squarely been attacked because they give coverage to opposition
related activities and personalities.123


2.3.3 Ban on live media covering FDCs defiance campaign activities
On 29th April 2016, Deputy Chief Justice, Stephen Kavuma, issued an interim order
banning all defiance campaign activities.124 Following this court order, the government
also banned all live broadcast of activities under the defiance campaign, and threatened
media houses to revoke their licences if they do not comply. According to Information
Minister, Gen. Jim Muhwezi, promoting what the court has stopped is illegal and
unacceptable and will not be tolerated by the government.125

The role of the media, however, is to provide independent and impartial information on
matters of national importance. Even if the defiance campaign activities would amount
to illegalities, by banning the media from reporting on unlawful activities, the media is
unable to provide a balanced picture of the events taking place in the country.

Ssebagala argued the ban was a move by the government to control information
released by the media on the defiance campaign:

I think it was ill-initiated because why would the government be so interested to
ban the live coverage and then leave the content which is edited? To me, I look at
that as an intention that the government was interested to be the editor at the end
of the day because they know they have an upper hand when it comes to content
which is edited. It is about calling the owner, threaten the owners and the content
will be edited. So here, live coverage gives someone a clearer view of what is
happening but content that is edited is subjected to quite a number of scrutiny
(sic). If you are really a supporter of the regime automatically you will consider
that, no, this one is going to taint the image of our government, but at the same
time the same leaders are going to call and say, oh there was a bad incident let us
call the media owners and stop them from airing that story. So for me I think it was
a big set back for free expression but at the same time it has really again added to
the big issue the media is facing.126

2.4 ACCESS TO INFORMATION DURING THE 2016 ELECTION PERIOD

2.4.1 Media coverage


For the electorate to make an informed decision in voting for the candidate most
suitable to govern them, it is vital to have access to information on all the candidates and
their manifestos. As seen in previous elections, the ruling party, the NRM, received the
largest share of media coverage throughout the 2016 election period.

The African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) monitored the media coverage
throughout the election period, and reported that although most media outlets
attempted to cover all political parties and presidential candidates, most space went to
three presidential candidates: Museveni, Besigye and Mbabazi, with Museveni being
covered by far the most by virtually all media outlets (40% of space went to NRM on

123 FHRI

interview with Robert Ssempala, Executive Director, Human Rights Network for Journalists
Uganda (HRNJ-U), on 22nd April 2016.
124 See Chapter 4 for further details on this court order.
125 Daily Monitor, Government bans live broadcast of FDCs defiance campaign, by Nelson Wesonga and
Nelson Bwire, 5th May 2016, retrieved from: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Government-bans-
live-broadcast-of-FDC-s-defiance-campaign/-/688334/3189888/-/yjo4cn/-/index.html.
126 FHRI interview with Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebagala, CEO Unwanted Witness, on 16th May 2016.

38

38
RIGHTS AND ELECTIONS IN UGANDA (2016)
HUMAN
A CALL FOR ACTION

average). The Monitor and Independent were reportedly most fair in their coverage
(see figure 2).

Figure 2: Cumulative space (%) accorded to the presidential candidates by the newspapers from
September to 16th February 2016

(Source: CEON-U, A Unified, Comprehensive and Effective Election Observation, May 2016, p. 95)


A similar situation could be observed in the coverage by TV broadcasters, with President
Museveni receiving approximately 46%, Besigye 20% and Mbabazi 19% of television
time among the major TV broadcasters (see figure 3). The news programming of the
public Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) TV was the most explicit example of
unequal media coverage, with the NRMs share of exposure being as high as 72.6% (see
figure 3). The UBCs radio coverage mirrored that of the TV.127

Figure 3: Television reportage (time in %) of the presidential election by 16th February 2016

(Source: CEON-U, A Unified, Comprehensive and Effective Election Observation, May 2016, p. 96)

127 EU Election Observation Mission, 2016, op. cit., p. 4.

CHAPTER TWO
39
RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

39


According to the Supreme Court, UBC failed to provide equal coverage to all the
presidential candidates as required by the Constitution and the law. Although the
candidates may not have asked for the airtime from UBC, it was incumbent upon the
UBC to show that it did offer time and space to all the candidates.128 The Supreme Court
further argued that the recurrent issue of unequal media coverage calls for legal reform
to introduce penalties for non-compliance in order to compel public media houses to
comply with the law.

Several arguments have been fronted for this continued inequality in coverage. For
instance, AIGP Kasingye argues that it is caused by the ownership of media houses and
in particular radio stations upcountry:

Many of these radio stations across the country, especially in the countryside are
owned by individuals and most of these individuals are politicians. You find
somebody is standing in an election in a constituency and he owns a radio. Now, if
you own a radio, you should stand by the journalistic requirements of being fair to
each and everybody. You can tell them to pay, but at least you allow them. But you
know they took it to themselves by saying that my rival cannot come to my own
radio and de-campaign me from my own radio. So if it happened, that could have
been the reason.129

A similar opinion is held by Ssempala:

The pattern of ownership of the media in this country is widely held by confessed
NRM supporters and business people. That victimized many journalists. A radio
station in Jinja Baba FM laid off three of its journalists, which belongs to the
District NRM Chairperson Moses Balyeku, also a Member of Parliament in that
area, because one of the journalists said Besigye pulled crowds in Jinja. Another
one read the story in the news bulletin and yet another one was feared to be close
to the Besigye camp. So the next morning they were all laid off. Another journalist
in a Kampala-based radio station, Top Radio, Richard Kamagu, was laid off. Until
after elections he was suspended for mentioning that Besigye had pulled crowds in
Mbabara, that history had been written in Mbarara for the opposition to pull such
crowds. So he was suspended and when we followed up the matter we were told
that he was on leave. To his utter shock he learned about it from his colleagues
who sat into his programme when he was listening to the programme only to hear
that he was on leave. He strongly protested the notion that he was on leave. But he
was reinstated on the 22nd of February, about three days after elections and after
announcement of election results.130

Another argument that was fronted for the unequal media coverage was that coverage is
influenced by public perception and financial incentive. For instance, Idris Kiggundu,
political editor of the Observer noted:

I know there was supposed to be fair treatment but the media is shaped by public
perception. The media will always give space to people who are publicly more
prominent. I would not give the same coverage that I give to Besigye or Museveni

128 Amama Mbabazi v. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Electoral Commission, and the Attorney General, Presidential

Election Petition No. 1 of 2016, Supreme Court of Uganda, 31st March 2016.
interview with Asan Kasingye, Assistant Inspector General of Police and Director of Interpol
Uganda, on 15th April 2016.
130 FHRI interview with Robert Ssempala, Executive Director, Human Rights Network for Journalists
Uganda (HRNJ-U), on 22nd April 2016.
129 FHRI

40

40

HUMAN RIGHTS AND ELECTIONS IN UGANDA (2016)


A CALL FOR ACTION

to Biraaro, even though Biraaro might have better ideas. I know we are
surpassed to provide some public service but we are also a business entity.131


John Kakande, New Vision Editor, expressed a similar view:

Elections are a very costly exercise. We had wanted to have a team of journalists
attached to all the 8 candidates but we were able to manage 2, that is Museveni
and Besigye. But even then, for Mbabazi we relied a lot on the teams in the region.
For the other 5 candidates we relied mainly on the upcountry teams.132

A newly introduced media event enhancing access to information and equal coverage of
candidates and their manifestos were the two live presidential debates. This
indisputably improved access to information for the electorate and their ability to make
an informed decision, being able to directly compare candidates and their positions on
critical issues:

It was a very good initiative. This time we had all the candidates participate at
least on the second round. It was very healthy that candidates were regulated,
given equal treatment and time. It only fell short of one ingredient, letting the
public ask a few questions to the candidates. That would have also engaged
citizens this time around. But it was a healthy idea. It brought all candidates to the
same level, including the newcomers.133

2.4.2 Access to information from the Electoral Commission
Access to information in possession of the Electoral Commission and transparency of the
electoral process is another area of concern, in particular in respect of transparent
reporting on the election results. At the national level the results were not being
released in a disaggregated manner indicating the votes per polling stations, but rather
showing overall results at the district level. This denies the public the opportunity to
verify the results at the primary level, undermining confidence of the public in the
electoral process. According to EU EOM observations, in only 10 out of 42 tally centres
observed print-outs of sub-county results broken down to polling station level were
distributed. 134

2.5 CONCLUSION
Space for the media to operate freely seems to be narrowing with an increasing number
of attacks on journalists reported during the 2016 election period, primarily at the
hands of police. The freedom of the media was further restricted by the closure of radio
stations and interference by state institutions in the programming of broadcasters,
arrests of social media critics, shutdown of social media, and a ban on all live media
coverage of FDCs defiance campaign activities.

The government justifies its actions in limiting freedom of expression and media
freedoms by stating the necessity to control media content to ensure truthful and non-
abusive information that does not incite violence. The state does have a responsibility to
ensure national security, however, freedom of expression is not limited to truthful
information but also extends to statements thought by others to be false, controversial
or unpleasant. The government should, therefore, not be overzealous in restricting

131 FHRI interview with Idris Kiggundu, Political Editor, The Observer, on 31st March 2016.
132 FHRI interview with John Kakande, New Vision Editor, on 15th April 2016.
133 FHRI

interview with Robert Ssempala, Executive Director, Human Rights Network for Journalists
Uganda (HRNJ-U), on 22nd April 2016.
134 EU Election Observation Mission, 2016, op. cit., p. 12.

CHAPTER TWO
41
RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

41

media space under the guise of maintaining public order. Instead of arresting
journalists, restricting media houses and shutting down social media in the anticipation
of a possible unlawful action, the state should focus on prosecuting those media actors
who actually break the law. This will act as a deterrence measure for other journalists to
break the law while at the same time allowing the space for the media to flourish.

Access to information, despite commendable initiatives, remains wanting. Adequate
access to information on all candidates and party manifestos for voters is difficult to
obtain due to unequal media coverage, with the NRM and to a lesser extent the FDC
and Go Forward receiving the largest share. In addition, information on the election
process and in particular the results should be made accessible in a more transparent
manner to enhance confidence in the election administration.


42

42
RIGHTS AND ELECTIONS IN UGANDA (2016)
HUMAN
A CALL FOR ACTION

CHAPTER THREE

RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF PEACEFUL


ASSEMBLY
Maintaining the freedom to assemble and express dissent remains a
powerful indicator of the democratic and political health of a country
- Hon C.K. Byamugisha, Justice of Appeal Constitutional Petition No. 9 of 2005

3.1 INTRODUCTION
The right to freedom of assembly is provided for under Article 29 of the Constitution,
which provides every person with the right to assemble and to demonstrate together
with others peacefully and unarmed and to petition. The right to peaceful assembly is
not an absolute right and can be restricted to ensure the rights and freedoms of others
or the public interest, but not beyond what is acceptable and demonstrably justifiable in
a free and democratic society or what is provided for in the Constitution. 135 The
Constitutional Court argued in 2008 that the power to prohibit the convening of an
assembly or forming of a procession in a public place, for whatever reason, does not fall
within the limit of Article 43 of the Constitution, but that it goes beyond what is
acceptable and demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society or what is
provided in the Constitution. 136

The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) further elaborated on the right to
peaceful assembly in Uganda, noting that restricting the right requires an immediate and
imminent threat to peace, and that public alarm, excitement or noise do not constitute a
breach of peace. The UHRC further stated that the actions taken to restrict the right must
be reasonable and proportionate.137


3.2 TREND SINCE 2006

With the return of the multi-party political system and the enactment of the Political
Parties and Organisations Act, 2005 in November 2005, political parties became legal
entities and are allowed to conduct political activities again, including public rallies. Yet,
ever since the opening of the political space and return to multi-party politics, the right
to freedom of assembly has been subject to abuse.

During the 2006 election period, it was noted that the right to freedom of assembly was
largely respected with presidential candidates able to organize political rallies, however
intimidation, harassment and interference was widely reported, especially against the
opposition.138 Opposition rallies were often dispersed by security forces that overtly
displayed partisan tendencies. 139 In addition, the requirement by the Electoral
Commission to campaign between the hours of 7am and 6pm was at times selectively
enforced by the police, at the detriment of the opposition candidates.140

During the years following the 2006 general elections, the right to freedom of assembly
came under further threat, with many opposition gatherings being prevented or
(violently) dispersed.141 The ruling by the Constitutional Court, declaring S. 32(2) of the
Police Act giving police powers to prohibit assemblies unconstitutional and hence
null and void, in spite of being highly commendable, did not register improvements in
the practice of the police in preventing and dispersing public gatherings of opposition
politicians.142

135 Article 43 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995.

136 Judgement of G.M. Okello, JA in Muwanga Kivumbi v Attorney General, Constitutional Petition No. 9 of
2005, Constitutional Court, 2008.
137 UHRC, Press Statement on Increasing Violence During Public Demonstrations, 2011.
138 Uganda Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: Commonwealth Observer Group, 2006, pp. 26-27.
139 FHRI, The Right to Healthcare in Uganda, Report for the period January June 2010, Kampala, p. 42.
140 Commonwealth Observer Group, 2011, op. cit., pp. 23-24.
141 FHRI, The Right to Freedom of Association and Assembly: Inside Multi-Party Politics in Uganda, Human
Rights Status Report for the Period January May 2007, Kampala, pp. 27-30; and FHRI, Electoral Reforms in
Uganda, 2008, op. cit., pp. 130-131.
142 FHRI, Electoral Reforms in Uganda, 2008, op. cit., pp. 130-131.

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During the 2011 election period, freedom of assembly was generally respected and the
candidates were mostly able to move freely throughout the country and campaign
intensively, though instances of intimidation and harassment were noted.143 However, in
the wake of the 2011 general elections, during the Walk to Work protests between
March and October 2011, the right to freedom of assembly came under increased attack.
Protests were violently dispersed on several occasions, leading to loss of life, injuries
and arrests of numerous opposition members. 144

In response to the nullification of S. 32(2) of the Police Act, and in order to provide a
comprehensive framework for regulating public gatherings, the Public Order
Management Act was enacted in 2013. The Public Order Management Act, 2013 (POMA)
does not provide adequate safeguards for the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.
Section 8 provides the police with the power to stop or prevent the holding of a public
meeting where the public meeting is held contrary to this Act. This law gives the police
powers to prohibit or disperse public gatherings on the mere basis of administrative
faults (e.g. not being able to notify the police at least three days in advance). The POMA
therefore does not comply with generally accepted practice, which provides that a
notification system should not function as a de facto request for authorisation, nor
should the failure to notify authorities render an assembly unlawful or be used as a
ground to disperse the assembly.145

3.3 FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY DURING THE 2016 ELECTION PERIOD

3.3.1 Freedom of assembly during consultations


During the period of consultations, the freedom of assembly in particular for
opposition politicians became increasingly curtailed. For instance, on 9th July 2015,
former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, planned to launch his nationwide consultation
meetings in Mbale. He was, however, blocked by police at Njeru, near Jinja, and ordered
to return to Kampala or get arrested. The Presidential Press Secretary, Tamale Mirundi,
responded to the incident by stating that Mbabazi was not above the law, and he would
be arrested if he went ahead with these meetings.146

The Supreme Court in its ruling on the Presidential Election Petition, however, found the
interception of Amama Mbabazi en route to Mbale and his detention at Kira Road Police
Station unjustified, highhanded and contrary to Section 3 of the Presidential Elections
Act. 147 The Supreme Court further argued that there was interference with the
petitioners aspirant consultation meetings in Njeru, Jinja, Soroti and Kapchorwa. 148

143 Commonwealth Observer Group, 2011, op. cit., p. 17.

144 FHRI, Uganda: The Right to a Fair Trial Next Steps, Report for the Period 30th June 2011 June 2012,
Kampala, pp. 79, 96-97.
145 UN General Assembly, Joint report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful
assembly and of association and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
on the proper management of assembly, submitted to the 31st Session of the UN Human Rights Council, 4th
February 2016 (A/HRC/31/66), pp. 6-7.
146 Daily Monitor, Police arrest former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, by Monitor Reporter, 9th July 2015,
retrieved from: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Police-arrest-former-Prime-Minister-Amama-
Mbabazi/-/688334/2780802/-/65o336z/-/index.html.
147 Section 3 of the Presidential Elections Act provides that an aspirant may consult in preparation for his or
her nomination within twelve months before the nomination date, and that for this purpose an aspirant may
carry out nationwide consultations, prepare campaign materials, raise funds and convene meetings of
national delegates.
148 Amama Mbabazi v. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Electoral Commission, and the Attorney General,
Presidential Election Petition No. 1 of 2016, Supreme Court of Uganda, 31 st March 2016.

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The FDC also faced widespread intimidation and interference during the consultation
period. For instance, on 10th October 2015, a convoy of FDC party officials heading to
Rukungiri to open offices and mobilise party rallies was stopped along the Masaka-
Mbarara road. According to IGP Gen. Kayihura, the FDC did not notify the police on time.
He explained that the police did not have any problems with the FDC opening party
offices, however the exercise also entailed mobilisation of rallies, and therefore it could
not be allowed. 149

During the arrest, FDC woman activist Fatuma Naigaga was reportedly publicly stripped.
However, Gen. Kayihura argued that Naigaga stripped naked to blackmail the Police, and
that the footage aired on television was edited in such a way to conceal this.
Nonetheless, he also noted that if police officers are found culpable in relation to this
incident, they would be held accountable. As a result, four police officers were put under
investigation over the arrest of Naigaga, including Felix Kulayige, Rwizi Regional Police
Commander.150

Monitor Publications Ltd

Police brutality during the arrests of FDC officials on 10th October 2015



Only days later, on October 15th, the police again arrested key FDC officials who had
planned a mobilisation tour in Kireka, Mukono, Jinja and Iganga. Around 4am, police
deployed its personnel near Dr Besigyes home in Kasangati, effectively putting him
under preventive arrest. Around 10.30am, Dr Besigye drove out of his home and was
blocked after 200 metres by police officers. Dr Besigye was told by the commanding
officer to return to his house or face arrest. He, however, refused to be imprisoned in his
home. Consequently, Dr Besigye was apprehended by police and detained at Naggalama
Police Station.151 Three people who had come to visit him in the morning were also
arrested and taken to an undisclosed location by police.152

149 New Vision, Kayihura faults officers over activists arrest, by Simon Masaba, 16th October 2015, p. 4.
150 ibid.

151 The Observer, Police holds Besigye, Ssemuju, scribes, op. cit., p. 3.

152 Daily Monitor, Besigye detained, FDC rally blocked, by Stephen Kafeero, 16th October 2015, p. 4.

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Monitor Publications Ltd

FDC Presidential flag bearer Dr Kizza Besigye being dragged by police officers to a police
vehicle at his home in Kasangati o n 15th October 2015.


On the same morning, police surrounded the house of Kyadondo East MP and FDC
member Hon. Ssemujju Nganda. When Ssemujju left the house to take his children to
school, he was blocked by police and ordered out of the car. After they failed to agree on
a way forward, police officials allegedly beat him and dragged him forcefully to the
police truck, drove him to Naggalama, and later transferred him to Kira Road Police
Station. Gen. Kayihura explained that Dr Besigye and Hon. Ssemujju were arrested
because they were disobeying the guidelines recently issued by the Electoral
Commission, which bar campaigns before nominations.153

It is, however, unclear whether these arrests in October 2015 were effected under
electoral laws or the POMA. Gen. Kayihura argued that communications did not amount
to notice within the meaning of Section 5 of the POMA since it does not fulfil the
requirements demanded by the law, but he added that the activities risk violating
other laws, as well as guidelines of the Electoral Commission. 154 The Electoral
Commission Spokesperson, Jotham Taremwa, justified the arrests noting that it was not
yet time for campaigns.155 The FDC has argued that the activities are not subject to the
POMA because meetings convened and held exclusively for a lawful purpose of a public
body, including political parties, are excluded from the prohibited public meetings as
per the POMA.

In reaction to the interference with the freedom of assembly, the FDC filed a suit against
the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, the Attorney General and the
National Independent Electoral Commission on 15th October 2015, for allegedly
interfering with campaign rallies organized by the FDC. The FDC accused the IGP of
being discriminative by allowing the NRMs flag bearer, President Museveni, to hold his
campaign countrywide, while forcefully stopping campaigns by FDC aspirants on the

153 The Observer, Police holds Besigye, Ssemuju, scribes, op. cit., p. 3.

Monitor, Police, Besigye standoff: What does the law say?, by Eriasa Mukiibi Sserunjogi, 16th
October 2015, p. 4.
155 ibid.
154 Daily

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pretext that the law does not allow campaigns before nominations. 156 This case is still
pending before the Constitutional Court.

2016 presidential aspirant, Gen. Benon Biraaro, also faced intimidation and interference
during the consultation period in Rushere, Sheema and Budaka. He narrated his
experience in Rushere:

In Rushere a police man came and almost cried. He said, the President is here but
I am being harassed that you people end your meeting. He said his life was on the
line, so we quickly finished our meeting.157

3.3.2 Freedom of assembly during the 2016 campaign period
During the campaign period, presidential and parliamentary aspirants were relatively
free to hold assemblies, although widespread instances of intimidation and interference
during opposition rallies were noted.

Despite EC guidelines stating that there should be no parallel rallies, throughout the
campaign period, the NRM allegedly prompted citizens to take to the streets with NRM
shirts and placards and, for instance, deface Mbabazi posters when Mbabazi was holding
rallies (e.g. in Mukono, Masaka, Fort Portal, Iganga, Arua). In Mukono, it was alleged that
at the time State Minister for water and environment, Ronald Kibuule, organised rival
activities to disrupt Mbabazis campaigns.158 In Fort Portal, Gen. Tumukunde was seen to
fly a helicopter fully decorated with President Museveni campaign posters to Mbabazis
rally venue shortly before Mbabazis arrival.159

In addition, on several occasions citizens were told to stay away from Mbabazis rallies.
For instance, ahead of Mbabazis arrival in Hoima district, numerous announcements
were played on radio urging people to keep away from his rallies and instead wait for
the visit of the beloved Museveni.160 These incidents resulted in the build up to the
violence in Ntungamo district on 13th December 2015.

On 13th December 2015, Go Forward candidate Amama Mbabazi had a scheduled rally in
Ntungamo. When Mbabazis convoy ran into a group of Museveni supporters, a stone
was thrown at one of the cars in Mbabazis convoy sparking off the clash.161 A fight
ensued between the two groups, leaving several injured.162

It was further reported by several opposition politicians that when they would organise
a rally and reserve a space, NRM members and/or supporters hang NRM posters at the
rally venue. Hon. Alice Alaso, former Woman Representative for Serere District, narrated
to FHRI:

On 29th December 2015 in Bugondo sub-county NRM people came and hung all
their posters everywhere, which was very provocative to us. They knew that the
place was cleared for our rally but they came and hung NRM posters, even on the

156 Daily Monitor, IGP sued over interference with FDC rallies, by Anthony Wesaka, 16th October 2015, p. 8.

157 FHRI interview with General Benon Biraaro, former presidential candidate for the Farmers Party, on 24th

March 2016.

158 New Vision, Electoral Commission and police to probe electoral violence, by Joyce Nakato, 12th November

2015, retrieved from: http://www.elections.co.ug/new-vision/election/1408187/electoral-commission-


police-probe-electoral-violence.
159 Daily Monitor, The build up to Ntungamo clahses, by Isaac Imaka, 15th December 2015, p. 5.
160 Ibid.
161 New Vision, Leaders condemn Ntungamo violence, by Eddie Ssejjoba and Jeff Lule, 15th December 2015,
p. 5.
162 See Chapter 6 of this report for further discussion on the violence in Ntungamo district.

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leafs, so that as you sit, there is an NRM poster either of Museveni or Odoa or other
NRM candidates hanging right above your head.163


Alaso experienced a similar ordeal in Olio sub-county on 2nd January 2016 when she had
organised a rally in Okulonyo Parish:

By the time I reached there, the whole place was yellow and the NRM was playing
music, people were drunk. I could not have a rally where my people were angry. I
am a responsible leader so I told myself that it is not a matter of life and death and
I did not want people to clash. I called the DPC and he did nothing. I called the
registrar and she did not even come. I just had to call off the rally.164

Ingrid Turinawe, FDC National Party Mobiliser, explained to FHRI that despite their
campaign programme being discussed and approved by the Electoral Commission,
rallies were disrupted on several occasions:

We would have a confirmed programme, confirmed by both the Electoral
Commission and the candidates, but the police would just destruct (sic) the
programme. One major incident was in Bukwo district. We were supposed to visit
Tariyeti Camp, but we were blocked by police at the entry of the camp. It was on
the schedule of the day but we found police saying they had orders from above and
we would not access the camp.165

As a result of such behaviour by police, many political activists continue to view the
police and other security forces as being partisan in favour of the incumbent. For
instance, on 14th December 2015, FDC presidential flag bearer, Dr Besigye, accused sub-
county internal security officers (GISOs) of being partisan and disrupting his rallies. He
argued that GISOs were moving around telling people not to attend his rallies, yet they
are supposed to be non-partisan.166

In December 2015, Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago, wrote to the Electoral
Commission protesting the manner in which the Police prevented him from having his
inaugural campaign rally in Kampala on Monday 30th November 2015. Kampala
Metropolitan Police Spokesperson said the venue (Nakasero Market) was found not
suitable due to hindrance of traffic and business. Lukwago, however, argued that the
action was aimed at stopping his campaign, as according to him, other persons,
including the Katikiro of Buganda, had been allowed to use the venue before. 167

The partisan nature of the police was also displayed through the selective
implementation of laws, such as campaigning beyond 6pm, which is prohibited by
Section 21 of the Presidential Elections Act. On 23rd December, police intercepted Dr
Besigye at 8pm when traveling from Nwoya district to Adjumani through Amuru,
accusing him of campaigning beyond the official time. According to Aswa Regional Police
Spokesperson, Patrick Jimmy Okema, we got reports that Dr Besigye, as he passed
through Atiak Trading Centre, kept on campaigning. We saw huge crowds. That is why
we decided to fire bullets and also use tear gas to disperse the crowds.168 However,

163 FHRI interview with Hon. Alice Alaso Asianut, former candidate Serere Woman MP, on 4th March 2016.
164 ibid.

165 FHRI interview with Ingrid Turinawe, FDC Party Secretary for Mobilisation, on 2nd April 2016.

166 Daily Monitor, Besigye rebukes GISOs for interrupting his rallies, by Felix Basiime & Colleb Mugume, 15th

December 2015, p. 3.

167 New Vision, Lukwago suspends rallies, by Charles Etukuri, 3rd December 2015, p. 10.

Monitor, Teargas, live bullets stop Besigyes rally, by John Okot and Stephen Okello, 27th
December 2015, p. 5.

168 Sunday

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Museveni addressed rallies beyond 6pm while campaigning in Otuke and Lango sub-
region the week before and police did not intervene. 169 IGP Gen. Kale Kayihura,
responded to these incidences by stating that we have told Dr Besigye to stop, but he is
not bothered. We are not going to allow him to paralyse the streets and highways. He
added that Museveni could have had a reason. I will talk to the managers and see why
they did it.170

It has also been argued by many that the Public Order Management Act is applied
selectively to the detriment of opposition candidates. For instance, on 21st December
2015, three supporters of Amama Mbabazi including George Okello Ekwaro
(parliamentary aspirant) and Douglas Denis Abaca (contestant for youth male district
councillor) were arrested over an illegal assembly. They were attempting to
demonstrate over poor leadership and governance in Apac district. The officer in charge
of Apac Police Station, Kalifan Chemutai, argued that the conveners had not received
permission to hold the assembly. Ekwaro, however, disputed this, saying that he had
sought permission from the Police in writing and it had been granted.171

AIGP Asan Kasingye denies such selective application of the POMA by the Uganda Police
Force (UPF):

I know so many rallies, requests that have been made by the NRM and we have
refused them. I know many. There is one time, the first lady wanted to use city
square. They call it constitutional square. We said no, you cannot. This is the first
lady. The police refused. I also remember that after that election we wanted to
ensure that there was peace in the aftermath, and the Inspector General of Police
said even the NRM, if you are going to celebrate this victory you have to get
consent from the police, not consent, but you have to notify the police.172

Kasingye further argued that there is need for improved collaboration and discussion
between organisers of rallies and the police in order to protect everyones rights:

I think the most important thing was, even security would want to know and plan
for you to exercise your right, but also to make sure that the rights of others are
not violated. That people are protected while they are exercising their rights, but
even those who are not interested in the programme you are pursuing are also
protected. For example, why would you not come and discuss with me that you
expect 2000 people. Out of 2000 people I would know my level of deployment to
protect you to do what you want to do. Why would I not know the time you are
starting and the time you are ending? Why would I not know the time to divert
traffic because you are going to be there from this time to that time, because the
public would like to know there is a rally here, there is a procession here, it is
starting at Najjanakumbi and maybe ending in Kololo, it is from what time to what
time, so that motorists are informed during this and this time please use this.173


169 Ibid.

Monitor, Kayihura defends Museveni, warns Besigye on night rallies, by Andrew Bagala, 15th
February 2016, p. 8.
171 New Vision, Three more Mbabazi supporters arrested in Apac district, by Chris Kiwawulo, Simon Masaba
and Daniel Okwir, 23rd December 2015, p. 7.
172 FHRI interview with Asan Kasingye, Assistant Inspector General of Police and Director of Interpol
Uganda, on 15th April 2016.
173 Ibid.
170 Daily

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Erias Lukwago, Kampala Lord Mayor, however, felt that police frustrated his ability to
campaign:

We had worked out the programme, which I even shared with the police, but it
was interrupted and it became difficult for me to go by that schedule of getting
clearance of the police before the rallies could commence. Though I had very few
rallies because of the arrangement I had made but even getting that clearance
which of course was uncalled for. It was a campaign period and the law is very
clear you should not seek for permission from the police but they put in place that
practice that every rally had to be cleared. The law is clear all I need to do is to
harmonize the programme with other candidates, have it sanctioned by the
electoral commission, and serve it to the police, and the police is only supposed to
provide security. I am not supposed to get clearance from the police every time I
have a rally.174

When dispersing rallies, excessive use of force by police was noted on several occasions,
and alleged to be a tactic to scare away people from attending opposition rallies. For
instance, while campaigning in Serere in December 2015, Besigye said that police patrol
cars that trail his convoy and sometimes surround his campaign venues with crime
preventers clutching clubs is meant to scare his supporters from his rallies. 175

Ingrid Turinawe, FDC national mobiliser, narrated her experience with excessive use of
force by the UPF:

We had a national programme for the campaigns covering a period of three
months but at several times we were disrupted. I was even injured, I have scars for
injuries caused by the Uganda police and it is not only one. I was injured by the
Uganda police as they tried to stop us from accessing Tariyeti Camp, of course by
tear gassing, beating us and they had some sort of grenades or something that they
would throw down and they would cut the legs. They had fragments. Initially I
thought they had shot me but I realised later they were hand grenades. They would
throw them, they bust and they would cut. It has sharp objects, which would cut
everybody. I realized when I went for treatment because the whole leg was swollen
and it was all bleeding. I was told that they were fragments and they removed the
particles which were in the leg. That day 3 people were shot and admitted, they
were seriously injured.176

AIGP Asan Kasingye explained that excessive use of force is sometimes errant behaviour
by individual police officers rather than an intended strategy of the UPF:

Sometimes they [individual officers] would do certain things and we say no, you
did not need to have shot because you are even causing more excitement, more
confusion. The law is on your side, go and tell someone you are not supposed to do
this and if possible that somebody is campaigning beyond time record and inform
him that you did this at 6.30 or at 7 and it is not allowed by law, it can be used
against you.177

174 FHRI interview with Erias Lukwago, Kampala Lord Mayor, on 10th May 2016.

175 Sunday Vision, Besigye, police clash in Ibanda, by Moses Walubiri and Lawrence Mucunguzi, 31st January

2016, p. 5.
176 FHRI interview with Ingrid Turinawe, FDC Party Secretary for Mobilisation, on 2nd April 2016.
177 FHRI interview with Asan Kasingye, Assistant Inspector General of Police and Director of Interpol
Uganda, on 15th April 2016.

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On 15th February 2016 police violently dispersed Dr Besigyes campaign in Kampala and
arrested Dr Besigye. According to police, they intervened because he did not stick to an
authorised route and his diversion would disrupt business:

The route was agreed that you were going to use Yusuf Lule Road. You go to
Wandegeya and you enter the main gate. Now you reach Kitgum House and you
want to go to town. There are pictures where they had even gone beyond Kitgum
House. They were on Jinja Road, coming towards Wava Broadcasting Station. That
is where there were some skirmishes, and they were told to go back. Is there any
presidential candidate who campaigned in Owino? Is there, including the
President? No, it is not allowed, and we are consistent with that. Nobody ever went
to the Central Business District; even passing there, no way.178

The grounds provided for disallowing candidates in the Central Business District are to
prevent a disturbance of traffic, public order and commercial activities. However, the
Constitutional Court in Muwanga Kivumbi v Attorney General ruled that a society
especially a democratic one should be able to tolerate a good deal of annoyance or
disorder so as to encourage the greatest possible freedom of expression, particularly
political expression.179 Similarly, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of
peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, notes that a certain level of disruption
to ordinary life caused by assemblies, including disruption of traffic, annoyance and
even harm to commercial activities, must be tolerated if the right is not to be deprived of
substance.180 Furthermore, according to Ingrid Turinawe, the rally followed the route
that was established beforehand:

We had a schedule for Kampala. We were supposed to have the first rally in
Kamwokya and from Kamwokya we were supposed to go to Makerere and
Nabagereka primary school. For every programme we would draw a route to use
from one venue to another venue. We were supposed to start from Kamwokya
drive through Jinja Road, through Arua Park and then to Makerere. When we
reached Jinja Road, police unleashed terror. We do not know where they wanted us
to go. They did not provide us an alternative route before. At Jinja Road they
blocked us and started beating everybody and Dr [Besigye] was arrested and taken
back to his home.181

Afterwards, Besigye returned to town to attend the rally at Makerere. According to
Ingrid Turinawe, as soon as they reached Wandegeya, the police started beating people
and arrested Besigye.182 Kasingye, however, argued:

We all know the route to Makerere, when you reach Wandegeya and you come
from Kasangati, you use Bombo Road. You come, you reach Wandegeya at the
traffic lights, we know you are going to the right and then you access the main
gate. Why would you now say I am continuing Bombo Road? Where would that
road take you? Does that take you to Makerere? I takes you to Bible House, Bat

178 FHRI interview with Asan Kasingye, Assistant Inspector General of Police and Director of Interpol
Uganda, on 15th April 2016.
179 Lead judgement of C.K. Byamugisha, JA in Muwanga Kivumbi v Attorney General, Constitutional Petition
No. 9 of 2005, Constitutional Court, 2008.
180 UN General Assembly (A/HRC/31/66), op cit., p. 9.
181 FHRI interview with Ingrid Turinawe, FDC Party Secretary for Mobilisation, on 2nd April 2016.
182 Ibid.

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Valley, to town, but you are going to Makerere, people are waiting for you at
Makerere. So why would you say now, me I want to go first of all to town.183


As a result of the skirmishes between police and FDC supporters, supporters started
hurling rocks and erecting street barricades, which further escalated the violence and
the force used by the police. Several people were wounded and one person was killed.184
According to AIGP Asan Kasingye, live bullets should only be used as a last resort, and
never to kill:

In public order management you use bullets as a last resort. Nobody should tell
you that in public order management there is no section of live bullets. It is always
there, but it is the last one. But even when you have to resort to use that, there is a
way you use it, not directing fire to the people. Even when you do it, in our riot act,
you tell them that live fire will be directed to disable you, not to kill. 185

3.3.3 Freedom of assembly during the 2016 post-election period
Many candidates contested the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election, resulting in
demonstrations in the months following the election. On 22nd February 2016, Dr Besigye
was arrested and taken to Naggalama Police Station after he attempted to leave his
home to go to the Electoral Commission to collect results declaration forms to use in a
possible election petition. According to IGP Kayihura, Dr Besigye wanted to use the
cover of picking presidential results from the EC headquarters to cause chaos in the city.
He was supposed to inform us three days before holding a procession as the POMA
stipulates. 186 The POMA, however, excludes spontaneous gatherings from a prior
notification requirement, and according to international human right standards, failure
to notify should not be used as a basis for dispersing an assembly. In addition, the
Constitutional Court ruled that the freedom of assembly cannot be restricted on mere
anticipatory grounds of disrupting public order. This was, therefore, a clear violation of
the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and liberty.

FDC continued its defiance campaign activities and planned to organise nationwide
demonstrations for 5th May 2016.187 On 29th April 2016, however, Deputy Chief Justice,
Stephen Kavuma, issued an interim order against the FDC, Dr Besigye and their agents,
officials and supporters from engaging in demonstrations, processions, other public
meetings, media campaigns or pronouncements including, but not limited to, the
respondents planned and led demonstrations or processions scheduled for the 5 th May
or any other day from the date hereof in furtherance of the respondents defiance
campaign pending the hearing and determination of the main Constitutional
Application number 017 of 2016 now pending in this Court.188

The application of this interim order was heard ex parte in the absence of the
respondents (FDC and Dr Besigye), which is only allowable where the delay caused by

183 FHRI interview with Asan Kasingye, Assistant Inspector General of Police and Director of Interpol
Uganda, on 15th April 2016.
184 For further information on this case, see Chapter 5 on the right to life.
185 FHRI interview with Asan Kasingye, Assistant Inspector General of Police and Director of Interpol
Uganda, on 15th April 2016.
186 Daily Monitor, Besigye is not special Kayihura, by Joseph Kato, 23rd February 2016, p. 3.
187 The FDC announced the defiance campaign to protest the outcomes of the 2016 presidential election.
The party instituted weekly prayers and announced countrywide protests while calling for an independent
audit of the presidential election results.
188 Attorney General v FDC and Col. (Rtd) Dr Kizza Besigye, Interim Order, Constitutional Court, Constitutional
Application No. 18 of 2016, 29th April 2016.

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including all parties would or may entail irreparable damage or serious mischief.189 It is
difficult to argue that such danger was present in this case, as the order was made six
days ahead of the scheduled demonstrations, indicating there was sufficient time for the
respondents to have been notified and included in the court proceedings.

According to the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly
and of association, Maina Kiai, blanket bans on the right to freedom of peaceful
assembly, or even bans on the exercise of the right in specific places or at specific times
are intrinsically disproportionate.190

The FDC being of the opinion that the interim order by the Constitutional Court was
unlawful, was determined to continue with the defiance campaign activities, including
the weekly prayers held every Tuesday at the FDC headquarters in Najjanakumbi in
Kampala. According to Besigye, I am horrified to hear that a court can make an order
with far reaching restrictions on rights of citizens ex-parte. It was not that heaven was
caving in. This will certainly be defied because it is illegal.191 On Tuesday 3rd May, ahead
of the weekly prayers, police arrested Kampala City Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, Dr Stella
Nyanzi, FDC weekly prayers lead pastor Habby Ngabo and his co-pastor Edward
Ssenyange, among others. 192 The next day, Lukwago, pastor Ngabo and Dr Nyanzi,
together with 23 other suspects were charged before Makindye Magistrates Court with
several offences including disobeying lawful orders, and were released on bail.193

3.4 CONCLUSION

During the consultation period the right to freedom of assembly was severely restricted.
Most notably, the Supreme Court argued that the interception of Mbabazi enroute to
Mbale and his consequent detention were unjustified, highhanded and contrary to the
law.

The freedom of assembly during the 2016 campaign period was respected to the extent
that presidential and parliamentary candidates were largely able to organise rallies.
However, widespread intimidation and interference during opposition rallies was noted
with NRM members and/or supporters disrupting rallies on several occasions. The
interference in the campaigns of opposition members affected their ability to market
their manifestos and ideas effectively, denying the electorate the chance to make an
informed decision.

In the post-election environment the freedom of assembly was gravely violated
following an interim order by Deputy Chief Justice Kavuma, banning all demonstrations,
processions or other public meetings part of FDCs defiance campaign. Such a blanket
ban on public gatherings is a severe violation of the right to freedom of assembly, and
the issuing of such order ex-parte, a violation of the right to a fair hearing.

189 Uganda Law Society, Statement of Uganda Law Society on interim ex parte orders in AG v FDC, Besigye
(Constitutional Petition No. 13 of 2016), 4th May 2016.
190 UN General Assembly (A/HRC/31/66), op. cit., p. 8.
191 New Vision, Kavuma interim orders against FDC illegal, says Besigye, by Moses Walubiri, 30th April 2016,
retrieved from: http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1423517/kavuma-interim-fdc-illegal-
besigye.
192 Daily Monitor, Lukwago, Dr Nyanzi arrested as police crack on FDC defiance campaign, by Michael
Kakumirizi
&
Job
Bwire,
3rd
May
2016,
retrieved
from:
http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Lukwago-Dr-Nyanzi-arrested-police-crack-FDC/-
/688334/3187122/-/1485av4z/-/index.html.
193 Daily Monitor, Pr Ngabo, Lukwago, Nyanzi secure bail, by Anthony Wesaka, 4th May 2016, retrieved
from:
http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Pr-Ngabo-Lukwago-Nyanzi-secure-bail/-
/688334/3189042/-/rkigvy/-/index.html.

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CHAPTER FOUR
RIGHT TO LIFE

The right to life is the first among human rights.


- H.H. Pope Francis -

4.1 INTRODUCTION
Under international human rights law, derogation from the right to life is only permitted
in execution of a death sentence carried out pursuant to a final judgement rendered by a
competent court and only for the most serious crimes.194 The Constitution reinforces
this. Article 22 of the Constitution guarantees the right to life except where a death
sentence is passed in a fair trial by a court of competent jurisdiction in respect of a
criminal offence, and such conviction and sentence have been confirmed by the highest
appellate court.

4.2 TREND SINCE 2006

During the 2006 and 2011 elections, only one violation of the right to life was
documented. On 15th February 2006, shortly before the 2006 elections, a Special Police
Constable (SPC), Ramathan Magara, killed two and wounded a third when firing into a
FDC rally at Bulange Mengo in Kampala. Magara was prosecuted and sentenced to 14
years imprisonment in June 2009.195

The Walk to Work protests following the 2011 elections resulted in further violations
of the right to life. During April 2011, at least nine people were shot and killed by police
seeking to quell demonstrations in Kampala, Gulu and Masaka,196 including a two-year-
old girl, Juliana Nalwanga, who was hit in the head by a stray-bullet when a police
constable tried to disperse protestors in Masaka district.197

4.3 RIGHT TO LIFE DURING THE 2016 ELECTION PERIOD

During the 2016 election period, there were a number of instances where police used
lethal force to disperse rallies, resulting in the loss of life. For instance, on 15 th February
2016 one person was killed in Kampala when police clashed with FDC supporters after
Besigyes rally was disrupted and Besigye was arrested for the second time that day.
Chaos erupted after police blocked Dr Besigye from addressing his planned rallies in
Kampala as it would disturb traffic flow. Police fired teargas to disperse the crowd and
arrested Dr Besigye, and after a short detention at Kira Road Police Station drove him to
his home. Besigye, however, drove back to town to address a scheduled rally at
Makerere University. At Wandegeya police blocked and arrested him again. The violence
that followed, resulted in the death of one person, identified as Emmanuel Musisi
Nsubuga, and 22 others were injured.198

The police accepted that they killed him. They are the ones who carried him to his
burial ground and even paid money for his burial to the family.199

On the evening before Election Day, one person was killed and two others seriously
injured when an army officer and his bodyguards opened fire at a group of supporters of
the FDC in Bugweri County in Iganga district. The incident occurred after the FDC
supporters clashed with Capt. Moses Kalera, who they accused of trying to help the NRM
candidate, Dan Ibaale, bribing voters in the area.200

194 Article 6(1) and (2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966.

195 Daily Monitor, Anger as Magara gets 14 years in jail for killing FDC supporters, by Alfred Nyongesa and

Lydia Mukisa, 25th June 2009, retrieved from: http://allafrica.com/stories/200906241040.html.

196 Human Rights Watch, Uganda: Walk to Work Group Declared Illegal, retrieved on 22nd July 2015 from:

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/04/04/uganda-walk-work-group-declared-illegal.
197 FHRI, The Right to a Fair Trial 2012, op. cit., p. 79.
198 Daily Monitor, US condemns killing of Besigye supporer, by Frederic Musisi, 18th February 2016, p. 6.
199 FHRI interview with Ingrid Turinawe, FDC Party Secretary for Mobilisation, on 2nd April 2016.
200 Daily Monitor, Iganga Two killed, by Yazid Yolisigira, 23rd February 2016, p. 13.

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On 19th February 2016, the day after elections, a 13-year-old boy, Muzamiru Kule, was
shot dead by a police officer during a clash between FDC supporters and security
personnel both UPF and UPDF at the Kasese district tallying centre. Bob Kagarura,
Rwenzori East Police Commander, confirmed that Kule was shot as security officers
dispersed rioting FDC supporters along the Kasese - Fort Portal road and died on the
way to Kilembe Hospital.201 Hon. Winnie Kiiza, Kasese Woman MP, narrated this ordeal:

On the election day of the President and Members of Parliament, there is a 13-
year-old boy who was shot dead at a tally centre. He was called Muzamiru.
Muzamiru was shot dead at a tally centre where the police did not want [people] to
be closer to the tally centre to see how the declarations were made. They dispersed
people with tear gas, beat them up badly, until they even commanded for firing of
live ammunition. That is how this Muzamiru boy died.202

According to AIGP Asan Kasingye, live bullets should only be used as a last resort, and
never to kill:

In public order management you use bullets as a last resort. Nobody should tell
you that in public order management there is no section of live bullets. It is always
there, but it is the last one. But even when you have to resort to use that, there is a
way you use it, not directing fire to the people. Even when you do it, in our riot act,
you tell them that live fire will be directed to disable you, not to kill. 203

Non-lethal crowd control methods, however, seem to be lacking in the standard
equipment provided to police officers. According to accepted policing procedures, the
provision of a firearm to law enforcement officials with no less-lethal alternative other
than a baton is unacceptable.204 This calls for a need to equip police officers with
sufficient non-lethal alternatives.

According to Severino Twinobusingye, Go Forward counsel, one of the persons who had
sworn an affidavit in support of the presidential election petition was later killed:

There is a witness called Moses from Buyende district. He was killed around 12th
March [2016]. He was murdered. After elections, he came and swore an affidavit
for us. After swearing an affidavit, they broke into the offices. That is when they
discovered he was the chairman of NRM in Buyende district. So they killed him.205

In addition to these killings, there were a number of suspicious deaths. For instance, t he
EC supervisor for Kyambogo village, Ntuusi sub-county in Sembabule district was found
killed on 25th February 2016. According to John Mugambe, the in-charge of security in
Ntuusi sub-county, it is not yet clear why the deceased was killed because all his
belongings including a mobile phone and some amount of money were not taken. 206

201 Uganda Radio Network, One Killed in Kasese Post-election Protests, by Thembo Kahungu, 20th February

2016, retrieved from: http://ugandaradionetwork.com/story/one-killed-in-kasese-post-election-protests.

202 FHRI interview with Hon. Winifred Kiiza, Woman MP Kasese district, on 15th April 2016.
203 FHRI

interview with Asan Kasingye, Assistant Inspector General of Police and Director of Interpol
Uganda, on 15th April 2016.
204 UN General Assembly (A/HRC/31/66), op. cit., p. 13.
205 FHRI interview with Severino Twinobusingye, Counsel Legal Team Go Forward, on 5th April 2016.
206 Daily Monitor, Sembabule EC supervisor found dead, by Gertrude Mutyaba, 29th February 2016, p. 8.

CHAPTER FOUR
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57

Furthermore, Hon. Alice Alaso reported to FHRI that one of her agents, Yoru Denis, was
killed on 19th February 2016. He was found with his neck twisted and ear pierced, but
they do not know who killed him or why.

The Go Forward team further reported the extra-judicial killing of at least two of their
supporters. In Bukedea district, a Go Forward supporter, Okwii Isaacs house was
allegedly burned down whilst his four year old son was sleeping and died in the fire. 207
Go Forward supporter, Ms Tumwebaze, was allegedly murdered in Mbarara and her
body dumped in the river.208 Fred Enanga, police spokesperson, however, refuted these
claims and described these accusations as glaring falsehood.209

Following the election, violence broke out in Bundibugyo. Eight people were reportedly
killed in Busaro sub-county of Bundibugyo district on 28th February 2016. This followed
the announcement by the district registrar, Daniel Nayebare, that Ronald Mutegeki had
won the election for Bundibugyo district LC5 seat, and thereby overturned the
provisional results that had announced Jolly Tibemanya as winner. According to
eyewitnesses, a group of about 30 people armed with sticks, pangas and spears
appeared in Bukundugu village and started killing people. 210

Even in Bundibugyo it was the same electoral violence where the Electoral
Commission decides to announce someone and then without even any petition they
decide to change who has won. Then people become violent. From there you can
see how lives have been lost.211

Though the clashes were instigated by the election results and the contradictory
announcements, the violence had a deep-rooted tribal element:

[T]he Bakonzo did not have a candidate at LC 5. Both were Bamba, only that one
Bamba was more favoured by the Bamba than the other. Meanwhile, the other who
was not favoured by the Bamba was the favourite of some Bakonzo. So the Bamba
felt the one who went through was the one who was supported more by the
Bakonzo than the Bamba. I think the Bamba feel it was a Bakonzo supported
candidate that has gone through. I think that is what is eating them up. But that
notwithstanding, I would imagine that the Electoral Commission brought all that
chaos. First, by announcing the candidate who was more supported by the Bamba
and then later on changing the results without anybody saying I am contesting the
results. You can see a small mistake leading to loss of so many lives. If this
election had been properly conducted, probably the right candidates announced at
the right time, maybe this would not have happened.212

Incidences of violence and killings have continued to take place in Bundibugyo
throughout March and April, with the death toll rising to over 30 reported deaths.
According to police intelligence, The Bamba King, Col. Martin Kamya was behind the
clashes. The King, allegedly, rallied his subjects to vote Ms Tibemanya during the
election, however the voters instead decided to vote for Mutegeki, and consequently the

207 Amama Mbabazi, Statement to the press and public on brutalisation of Go Forward team, Press
Statement on 7th January 2016.
208 Ibid.
209 Saturday Monitor, Police warn Mbabazi on claims of State murder, by Joseph Kato, 9th January 2016, p. 4.
210 New Vision, Whos to blame for Bundibugyo clashes?, by Geoffrey Mutegeki, 29th February 2016, p. 12.
211 FHRI interview with Hon. Winifred Kiiza, Woman MP Kasese district, on 15th April 2016.
212 Ibid.

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King ordered an attack on those who did not support the kingdom.213 The Obudhingiya
Bwa Bwamba cultural institution has, however, denied the involvement of King Kamya
in the post-election clashes.214

4.4 CONCLUSION

Excessive use of force by security officers continues to result in incidental loss of life.
The violence and loss of life in the days before Election Day, undoubtedly contributed to
an environment of fear. Despite statements made by police that lethal crowd control
methods are only used as a last resort, too often does the police resort to live bullets to
disperse demonstrations. There is need to effectively investigate these and other killings
to ensure perpetrators are held accountable. Furthermore, investigations in the violence
and killings in the Rwenzori region are urgent to address the root causes behind the
recurrent killings in this region and hold perpetrators accountable. Adequate and timely
investigations of suspected unlawful or arbitrary killings are an important part of the
states obligation to protect, as a failure to do so amounts to a violation of the right to life
itself.

213 Daily Monitor, Police arrest 80 as death toll rises in Bundibugyo election clashes, by Joseph Kato and
Moris Mumbere, 1st March 2016, p. 7.
214 Daily Monitor, Bwamba reacts, by Scovia Atuhaire, 7th March 2016, p. 11.

CHAPTER FOUR
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59

CHAPTER FIVE:

RIGHT TO LIBERTY AND SECURITY


OF THE PERSON
To deprive a man of his natural liberty and to deny to him the ordinary
amenities of life is worse than starving the body; it is starvation of the soul, the
dweller in the body.
- Mahatma Gandhi -

5.1 INTRODUCTION
The right to liberty and security of the person is an internationally recognised human
right that protects people from arbitrary arrests, detention or enforced disappearance.
The Constitution provides that a person arrested, restricted or detained shall be
informed immediately, in a language that the person understands, of the reasons for the
arrest, restriction or detention and of his or her right to a lawyer of his or her choice. 215

5.2 TREND SINCE 2006

During the 2006 election period, the arrest and prosecution of FDC leader, Dr Kizza
Besigye, was the most prominent violation of the right to liberty impacting on the
election process. Dr Besigye was arrested on 14th November 2005 on charges of treason,
rape, terrorism and illegal possession of weapons. He was only released on 2nd January
2006, 52 days before the elections on 23rd February 2006. In addition, he had to appear
27 times in court, liming his ability to campaign tremendously.216 His prosecution was
widely regarded as designed to frustrate his presidential campaign. Similarly, two FDC
MPs were prosecuted for murder, limiting their ability to campaign and undermining
their legitimacy as political leaders.217 Furthermore, there were instances of candidates
being arrested for using malicious, false, abusive, insulting or derogatory statements
during campaigns.218

In the 2011 election period, the Uganda Human Rights Commission received several
complaints regarding unlawful arrests during campaigns and on polling day. 219 The EU
Election Observation Mission noted that police was seemingly biased as arrests of
opposition agents, politicians and supporters were widespread, yet the EU observers did
not record any arrests of NRM agents, politicians and supporters. 220 Furthermore, Ms
Annet Namwanga, responsible for arranging DP financial resources from abroad, was
arrested on charges of terrorism and detained incommunicado for 16 days.221 After DP
secured her release she was re-arrested. In addition, several civil society activists were
arrested when carrying out voter sensitisation.222

Both in 2006 and 2011, cases of arbitrary arrests and detention of stakeholders in
ungazetted safe houses were reported.223

5.3 RIGHT TO LIBERTY AND SECURITY OF THE PERSON DURING THE 2016
ELECTION PERIOD

Throughout the election period, there were widespread reports of arbitrary arrests,
despite cautionary statements by the UHRC against arresting citizens before thorough
investigations, and that preventive arrest infringes on the presumption of innocence.224

215 Article 23(3) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995.


216 EU Election Observation Mission, 2006, op. cit., p. 23.

217 The two FDC MPs were acquitted by High Court. See: Commonwealth Observer Group, 2006, op. cit., p.

27.

218 EU Election Observation Mission, 2006, op. cit., p. 11.

219 Electoral institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, 2011, op. cit., p. 19.
220 EU Election Observation Mission, 2011, op. cit., pp. 15, 25.
221 Ibid., p. 23.

222 For instance, several activists of the Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) were
arrested by police while distributing a leaflet asking voters not to vote for any MP or leader involved in
corruption and demanding that all MPs return UGX 20 million deposited into their bank accounts.
223 EU Election Observation Mission, 2011, op. cit., p. 7.
224 On 14th December 2015, Juliet Logose, UHRC officer in charge of West Nile, cautioned the police against
arresting citizens before thorough investigations. On 15th December 2015, Kamadi Byonabye, UHRC director

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61


For instance, Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago, noted:

16th November 2015 we were supposed to be nominated. We had organised to go
for nomination and the Minister came up with this obnoxious bill to scrap adult
suffrage in Kampala. They wanted to nominate the councilors and leave out the
Lord Mayor. I refused that and told them I had to first get official communication
from the Electoral Commission. So there was a battle here because I could not
allow the police to block me from my home. There was a stiff battle and even one of
the journalists called Isaac of Delta TV was almost killed. Eventually they put me in
the black van and drove me up to Naggalama [Police Station] where I stayed up to
11pm. I was not charged with any offence.225

In January 2016, former intelligence operative and political activist, Charles
Rwomushana, was detained for four days at the Special Investigations Division at Kireka
as he was being investigated by police for publishing hate-speeches on his social media
platforms. According to Rwomushana he was denied access to his relatives and lawyers
until his release.226

On 5th March 2016, the police arrested the head of FDC task force in Rukungiri, Darius
Tweyambe, for unknown reasons. According to sources from Rukungiri Police Station,
Tweyambe was taken to Ntungamo Police Station and later taken to Kampala.227 On 6th
March, Ntungamo Officer in Charge of criminal investigations, Bosco Gume Salongo, said
they were requested to put him in custody and that they are waiting for him to be picked
up and transported to Kampala.228 On 7th March, Police Spokesperson, Fred Enanga,
explained that they arrested Tweyambe and Henry Mutyaba for allegedly circulating a
picture depicting a dead President Museveni on social media, and that the suspects
were being detained and interrogated at the Special Investigations Unit in Kireka.229

Similar to the 2006 and 2011 elections, the police was accused of being partisan during
the election process to the detriment of the opposition politicians. For instance,
following the violence in Ntungamo on 13th December 2015, at least 23 Go Forward
members were arrested.230 According to Amama Mbabazi, none of the NRM supporters
who threatened to burn his car or threw stones at his car were arrested.231 According to
Mbabazi, the supporters and team members of Go Forward were acting in self-defence
and now face trumped up charges in court.232 Based on this incident, former IGP Julius
Peter Odwee also argued that the Uganda Police Force has become partisan. He stated

for regional services, said that the commission does not agree with preventive arrests as it infringes on the
presumption of innocence.
225 FHRI interview with Erias Lukwago, Kampala Lord Mayor, on 10th May 2016.
226 Observer, Rwomushana released, put under police guard, by Siraje Lubwawma and Zurah Nakabugo, 13 th
14th January 2016, p. 2.
227 New Vision, Tweyambe arrested again, by Caleb Behikaho, 7th March 2016, p. 13.
228 Daily Monitor, Besigye chief campaigner detained, by Perez Rumanzi, 7th March 2016, p. 11.
229 Daily Monitor, Two arrested over dead Museveni picture, by Joseph Kato, 7th March 2016, retrieved
from:
http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Two-arrested-over--dead--Museveni-picture/-
/688334/3106714/-/hfjb9lz/-/index.html.
230 New Vision, Guards arrested, Mbabazi protests, by Chris Kiwanuka, Simon Masaba, and Jeff Lule, 22nd
December 2015, p. 9.
231 Daily Monitor, Museveni ordered raid on my office, by Isaac Imaka and Frederic Musisi, 22nd December
2015, p. 5.
232 On 12th January 2016, 11 suspects of the violence in Ntungamo were granted bail by the Ntungamo
Magistrates Court. At the time of writing, the case was still on-going.

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that the police are supposed to treat everyone equal, and when two sides are fighting,
they should both be taken to court.233

Western Youth MP Gerald Karuhanga noted similar behaviour by security forces in
Ntungamo on Election Day. According to him, his home was under military siege and
many of his supporters and agents were arrested and taken to police or safe houses. In
response to this allegation, DPC Baker Kawonawo, stated that 20 suspects had been
arrested over allegations of bribing voters.234

On 23rd February, police raided the Mbarara FDC party offices and arrested 15 people.
According to Mbarara District FDC chairperson, Stanley Katembeya, the police failed to
explain the arrests, and were only told that one of them is a dangerous person by the
District Police Commander, Japhar Magyezi. Magyezi confirmed the arrests but said they
were arrested from a lodge next to the FDC offices.235

On 29th February 2016, FDC said that more than 300 of its supporters, including polling
agents were being held in unknown facilities across the country. According to FDC
Spokesperson, Semujju Nganda, over 200 supporters were arrested two days before
Election Day when Dr Besigyes attempt to hold rallies in Kampalas city centre turned
violent. Many more FDC supporters were arrested in the week following the elections
after Dr Besigye rejected results of the presidential election. Police spokesperson Fred
Enanga, however, refuted these numbers, stating that only 132 cases had been
documented by the police countrywide which was not limited to the FDC but included
all political players.236

5.3.1 Arrests of presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye
One of the most prominent violations of the right to liberty during the 2016 election
period was the repeated arrest of FDC presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye. Only in
February 2016, Dr Besigye was arrested 9 times, denied entry to and exit from his own
residence, denied free access to his lawyers and persistently blocked from visiting the
party headquarters.237

On 15th February 2016, Besigye was arrested twice when he was attempting to address
rallies in Kampalas city centre to close his election campaign. Police arrested him when
Besigye refused to change the route for his rallies, and was briefly taken to Kira Road
Police Station before being driven home. Afterwards, Dr Besigye drove back to the city
to address a rally at Makerere University, but was arrested again from Wandegeya.
Police Spokesperson, Fred Enanga, said that Dr Besigye was only restrained from
disrupting business in the Central Business District.238

On Election Day, Dr Besigye was arrested when he demanded access to a house in
Naguru, a suburb of Kampala, suspected to be used by security operatives to rig the
elections. According to Patrick Onyango, Spokesperson for Kampala Metropolitan Police,

233 Daily Monitor, Police is acting partisan - former IGP Odwee, by Bill Oketch, 3rd January 2016, retrieved
from: http://www.monitor.co.ug/Magazines/PeoplePower/Police-is-acting-partisan-former-IGP-Odwee/-
/689844/3018994/-/item/0/-/qk68kz/-/index.html.
234 Daily Monitor, Police arrest 20 in Ntungamo violence, by Alfred Tumushabe and Perez Rumanzi, 19th
February 2016, p. 12.
235 Daily Monitor, Police raid Mbarara FDC party offices, arrest 15, by Rajab Mukombozi and Sylvia
Katushabe, 25th February 2016, p. 13.
236 Daily Monitor, Police holding 300 FDC supporters, polling agents, by Solomon Arinaitwe, 1st March 2016,
retrieved from: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Police-holding-300-FDC-supporters-polling-
agents/-/688334/3097494/-/11jxmx5/-/index.html.
237 Forum for Democratic Change, FDC-NEC Statement on 2016 elections, 2nd March 2016.
238 Daily Monitor, US condemns killing of Besigye supporter, by Frederic Musisi, 18th February 2016, p. 6.

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63

Dr Besigye was apprehended for criminal trespass and assault and later released on
police bond.239

A day later, on 19th February 2016, after the FDC called a press conference to show the
results that were announced at polling stations in the presence of citizens and FDC
polling agents, police raided the FDC headquarters. Police fired tear gas and bullets to
disperse the crowd that had gathered at the FDC officers, and arrested Dr Kizza Besigye,
Gen. Mugisha Muntu and Ingrid Turinawe. According to Kampala Metropolitan Police
Commander, Andrew Felix Kaweesi, they arrested Besigye under preventive arrest
reference, and that they would keep him detained until the results would be announced
on 20th February 2016 to prevent him from causing civil disobedience. 240 Ingrid
Turinawe, shared her experience of this incidence with FHRI:

Our headquarters were broken into. We were found in a meeting at the
headquarters. They were claiming that we were going to announce the results
because we had a tally centre and we would clearly see where Kiggundu was
changing the results and was announcing wrong results. So they claimed that we
were going to announce results, and they came and arrested three of us: me, the
party president and Dr Besigye. We were detained at Naggalama Police Station
and during the night they released Dr Besigye and Gen. Muntu, but they told me
that I had other cases. I slept in the cells but the next day they released me without
any charges.241

According to Dr Kizza Besigye, they were detained without charge at Naggalama police
station. He further noted that he had been put under house arrest, that his home was
sealed off, nobody was allowed to access his home and he suspected to have been put
under an electronic blockade as he was unable to access any internet services from his
home.242

On 20th February 2016, FDC party officials were blocked from entering the home of Dr
Besigye, who was still being kept under house arrest. Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias
Lukwago, who had also come for the meeting at Besigyes home, was arrested and
driven away in a police vehicle as he attempted to talk to journalists.243

On 22nd February 2016, the police raided the FDC headquarters again, this time
reportedly arresting one party official and at least five data clerks the party had
contracted to work on tallying presidential election results. According to Patrick
Onyango, Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson, they did not arrest data clerks at
the FDC headquarters, but they arrested five people who failed to identify themselves
and that some of those arrested were coordinators of Dr Besigyes Power 10 network,
who he said were calling up people from different parts of the country to come to
Kampala and demonstrate against the Electoral Commissions declaration on Saturday
that President Museveni won the election.244 They were taken to Katwe Police Station,
charged with inciting violence, and released on police bond on the same day after

239 Daily Monitor, Besigye held after storming suspected rigging centre, by Erias Mukiibi Sserunjogi, 19th

February 2016, p. 2.
Vision, Besigye, Muntu, 100 others arrested, by Simon Masaba and Eddie Ssejjoba, 20th
February 2016, p. 2.
241 FHRI interview with Ingrid Turinawe, FDC Party Secretary for Mobilisation, on 2nd April 2016.
242 Dr Kizza Besigye, Election Results Must be Rejected, press statement, Kampala, 20th February 2016.
243 Saturday Monitor, Police besiege Besigye home, by Eriasa Mukiibi Sserunjogi and Leilah Nalubega, 21st
February 2016, p. 3.
244 Daily Monitor, Police storm FDC headquarters again, make more arrests, by Eriasa Mukiibi Sserunjogi,
23rd February 2016, p. 3.
240 Saturday

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recording their statements. FDC National Chairman, Wasswa Birigwa, however refuted
allegations that the arrested staff were trying to coordinate members to incite violence.
According to him, police came and entered our offices. They ordered all members there
to identify themselves and those without IDs were arrested. Some of those arrested had
just arrived from different areas to submit their declaration forms.245

On the same day, Dr Besigye was arrested and taken to Naggalama Police Station after
he attempted to leave his home to go to the Electoral Commission to collect results
declaration forms to use in a possible election petition. According to IGP Kayihura, Dr
Besigye wanted to use the cover of picking presidential results from the EC
headquarters to cause chaos in the city. He was supposed to inform us three days before
holding a procession as the POMA stipulates.246

Dr Besigye was arrested just outside his gate. When the police barricaded the road, he
intended to walk to the EC offices. The police then forced Besigye into a waiting police
van to drive him to Naggalama Police Station.247 On the same day, Ms Turinawe was also
arrested as she was driving from the FDC party headquarters to Naggalama where Dr
Besigye was detained:

I was driving out to go and check on him [Besigye] at Naggalama. It was about
3pm. When I reached the clock tower I saw the police van entering the lane in
which I was driving. I became suspicious. I continued past Nsambya traffic lights
and around Mukwano the van drove past me and blocked me and I was arrested. It
was a terrible evening because I was detained from the car. They did not take me
to any police station or park me anywhere. They drove the van from 3.30pm the
time I was arrested up to 1am. They were driving me around the city, took me to
Muyenga, Ntinda, Kiwatule, Kabalagala, industrial area, Wandegeya. They drove
me until it got dark. They drove me everywhere until 1am when they parked at
Kira Road Police Station. They gave me police bond and drove me back home at
2am. The bond they gave me was for an offence of attempting to commit a felony. I
do not know which felony they were talking about.248

She further explained that she was not able to contact anyone from the time of arrest
until she was released at night, as her telephones were taken away. 249

On 24th February 2016, Dr Besigye was unable to enjoy his right to vote in the local
government elections as he was still being held under house arrest at his home in
Kasangati. According to Gen. Kale Kayihura, however, Dr Besigye was not under house
arrest, but his movements were being closely monitored. According to Kayihura, the
police action was a consequence of his utterances and activities that amount to
incitement to violence and defiance of the law and justified under article 43 of the
Constitution which provides that no one should prejudice the rights and freedoms of
others or the public interest. He added that Besigye is allowed unlimited access to his
lawyers, family and party officials, among others. 250 Besigye, however, refuted, this and
stated that people who come to see him were not allowed in, and police decides who is

245 New Vision, Police explains FDC data entrants arrest, by Jeff Andrew Lule, 24th February 2016, p. 8.
246 Daily Monitor, Besigye is not special Kayihura, by Joseph Kato, 23rd February 2016, p. 3.

247 Daily Monitor, Police arrest Besigye again, by Eriasa Mukiibi Sserunjogi, 23rd February 2016, p. 2.
248 FHRI interview with Ingrid Turinawe, FDC Party Secretary for Mobilisation, on 2nd April 2016.
249 Ibid.

250 Daily Monitor, Besigye not under arrest IGP, press statement by General Kale Kayihura, Inspector
General of Police, 24th February 2016, published on 26th February 2016, pp. 6-7.

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65

allowed to see him.251 This was also the experience of Charles Mwanguhya, NTVs Fourth
Estate talk show host:

We tried with the authorities to give us clearance, like three weeks before, because
technically or officially Besigye was not under arrest, it is only his movements that
have been restricted. I called the person in charge, that is the head of Human
Resource in the police, Afande Andrew Felix Kaweesi. I also spoke to the other
senior who has been speaking about this, that is AIGP Asan Kasingye and I also
booked Kizza Besigye for an interview. I told them that I had booked Besigye and
he had agreed to be interviewed from his house. The police did not indicate there
was any problem or any protocols that we were supposed to follow. When the crew
arrived on Sunday evening, they found the DPC of Kasangati Police Station and
they were told that they [police] were not aware of the interview and even if they
were, they would need clearance from their superiors. I kept trying to call him
[Kaweesi] but his phone was off. I tried to call Kasingye but his phone was also not
going through. At about 8 oclock Kaweesi picked up and I told him I was at
Besigyes home with my crew and we wanted to do the interview I had told him
about. He said he thought we were going to record and for a live show he needed to
consult his superiors. Kaweesi kept on consulting but time was running out as the
show runs at a particular time. The consultations were never concluded.252

On 25th February, a group of Besigyes supporters from Kakiri in Wakiso District came to
his home in Kasangati, but Kasangati DPC, James Kawalya, ordered them to leave
immediately. Two men in the group were arrested and pushed into the police van on
orders of Kawalya. Shortly after, journalists reported hearing the men screaming loudly
inside the van and seeing the driver of the van holding what looked like a pepper spray
canister and applying it on the two gentlemen. When police arrested Dr Besigye later,
the two men were removed from the van with the older man left lying helplessly on the
ground within the police cordon. Pleas from journalists to have him taken to the hospital
fell on deaf ears. DPC Kawalya, when asked about the incident, declined to comment. 253

AIGP Asan Kasingye explained to FHRI that the UPF does not condone torture in any
way:

I do not condone anybody being tortured because he is going to Besigye. No way. I
would want to see any police officer standing and say it was right for us to torture
somebody. You do not torture somebody. We have the means of stopping you from
doing whatever you do, going wherever you want to go, so torturing, if anybody
was tortured it is not right.254

On 26th February 2016, a delegation of ambassadors from the European Union were
allowed to meet Dr Besigye at his home. O thers who attempted to access the home were,
however, promptly arrested. Those arrested included a pastor identified as Wilson
Talemwa, from Ntungamo district. He was put into a police van and taken to Kasangati
Police Station, where he and others were detained. Police commanded by DPC Kawalaya,
maintained a heavy presence around Besigyes home, vetting every visitor and arresting

Monitor, Police siege on Besigyes home enters seventh day, by Stephen Kafeero, 26th February
2016, p. 2.
252 FHRI interview with Charles Mwanguhya, Host Forth Estate Talk Show, NTV, on 30th March 2016.
253 Daily Monitor, Police siege on Besigyes home enters seventh day, op. cit.
254 FHRI interview with Asan Kasingye, Assistant Inspector General of Police and Director of Interpol
Uganda, on 15th April 2016.
251 Daily

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more than 40 people that day. When asked why the police were arresting Dr Besigyes
visitors, DPC Kawalya simply stated you will know.255

Besigyes lawers petitioned Kasangati Magistrates Court on 26th February 2016, to
challenge the continued house arrest. The application sought similar orders as the ones
filed before the same court during the Walk-to-Work protests in 2011. In 2011, court
held that it was unlawful for the police to confine Besigye at his residence on grounds
that his home is not a gazetted detention centre in the law. His detention was unlawful
as he was not kept in a lawful detention centre and this was beyond the constitutional
48hour period, ruled Magistrate Jessica Chemeri in 2011.256 At the time of writing of
this report, the case was still pending before Kasangati Magistrates Court.

On 28th February 2016, Dr Besigye was allowed to attend a church service at All Saints
Church Nakasero, trailed by security personnel under the command of Stephen Tanui,
deputy commander of Kampala Metropolitan Police. On his way back to Kasangati, Dr
Besigye disagreed with the police on the route. At the junction between Kyaggwe and
Nakasero road, he was diverted from driving through the Central Business District and
forced to drive in the direction of Kamwokya through Nakasero Road. He was briefly
held at Kira Road Police Station before being driven back to his home.257

On 1st April 2016, after 43 days of house arrest, IGP Kayihura finally ordered the
withdrawal of police deployment from Besigyes home. According to Kayihura, the
withdrawal of police from Besigyes home was an extension of a token of good will.
Kayihura, however, added that he had Kasangati DPC keeping a keen eye on Besigyes
movements.258 Besigye attributed the withdrawal of police from his home to pressure
from the High Court, the international community and Ugandans.

Only days after his house arrest was lifted, Dr Kizza Besigye was again arrested on 5th
April 2016 on his way to the FDCs weekly prayers at the partys headquarters in
Najjanakumbi. His drive attracted large crowds on the road, and at Mulago he was
blocked from proceeding. Kampala Central Police Station DPC, Aaron Baguma, ordered
the towing of Besigyes car and drove him to Kololo Independence Grounds which were
being used as mini-barracks for security forces, and later took Besigye to Kira Road
Police Station. There, Besigye was transferred to the black police van which brought him
to Naggalama Police Station.259 He was released later in the day and on 13th April 2016
charged with disobeying lawful orders.260

255 Saturday Monitor, EU ambassadors meet Besigye, by Stephen Kafeero, 27th February 2016, p. 3.

256 Daily Monitor, Besigye turns to court to seek his freedom, by Anthony Wesaka, 29th February 2016, p. 3.
257 Daily Monitor, Besigye goes to pray, towed back by police, by Ephraim Kasozi, 29th February 2016, p. 3.

258 Daily Monitor, IGP Kayihura orders withdrawal of police from Besigyes home, by Job Bwire, 1st April
2016, retrieved from: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/IGP-Kayihura-orders-withdrawal-police-
from-Besigye-home/-/688334/3142270/-/nqgeklz/-/index.html.
259 Daily Monitor, Besigye arrested on first day of freedom, by Frederic Musis and Ebber Aturinde, 6th April
2016, retrieved from: http://www.monitor.co.ug/Elections/Besigye-arrested-on-first-day-of--freedom-/-
/2787154/3147784/-/5725r7z/-/index.html.
260 Daily Monitor, Besigye charged with disobeying lawful orders, by Monitor Reporter, 13th April 2016,
retrieved from: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Besigye-charged-disobeying-lawful-orders/-
/688334/3157194/-/jcfv83/-/index.html.

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67

Monitor Publications Ltd

FDC presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye arrested on 19th April 2016




On 29th April 2016, Deputy Chief Justice, Stephen Kavuma, issued an interim order
banning all defiance campaign activities.261 The FDC, of the opinion that the interim
order by the Constitutional Court was unlawful, was determined to continue with the
defiance campaign activities, including the weekly prayers held every Tuesday at the
FDC headquarters in Najjanakumbi in Kampala.

On Tuesday 3rd May, ahead of the weekly prayers, police arrested Kampala city Lord
Mayor Erias Lukwago, Dr Stella Nyanzi, FDC weekly prayers lead pastor Habby Ngabo
and his co-pastor Edward Ssenyange, among others.262 The next day, Lukwago, pastor
Ngabo and Dr Nyanzi, together with 23 other suspects were charged before Makindye
Magistrates Court with several offences including disobeying lawful orders, and were
released on bail.263

According to FDC officials, more than 150 opposition supporters and officials are either
in detention or missing since the FDC called for nationwide demonstrations ahead of the
12th May presidential inauguration.264 In addition, on 5th May, the day of the planned
nationwide FDC demonstrations, Dr Besigye and Lukwago were put under house arrest,
which continued until the swearing in of President Museveni.265

261 See Chapter 4 of this report for further details on this court order.

262 Daily Monitor, Pr Ngabo, Lukwago, Nyanzi secure bail, by Anthony Wesaka, 4th May 2016, retrieved

from:
http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Pr-Ngabo-Lukwago-Nyanzi-secure-bail/-
/688334/3189042/-/rkigvy/-/index.html.
263 Daily Monitor, Lukwago, Dr Nyanzi arrested as police crack on FDC defiance campaign, by Michael
Kakumirizi
&
Job
Bwire,
3rd
May
2016,
retrieved
from:
http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Lukwago-Dr-Nyanzi-arrested-police-crack-FDC/-
/688334/3187122/-/1485av4z/-/index.html.
264 Daily Monitor, Opposition leaders held at home ahead of swearing-in, by Stephen Kafeero, 10th May 2016,
retrieved from: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Opposition-leaders-held-at---home-ahead-of-
swearing-in/-/688334/3197042/-/nc6eocz/-/index.html.
265 Ibid.

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Lukwago narrated his experience:



They have not given me any reason, I am just here. Even if you ask them, they say
that I am about to cause havoc or incite violence. Or they will tell you that they are
under instructions not to let me go out and if I insist they will arrest me and take
me to Naggalama. So they just tell you that the choice is yours.266

On 11th May, Dr Besigye escaped surveillance at his residence and emerged in Kampala
Central Business District.267 He was subsequently arrested and taken to Nalufenya Police
Station in Jinja, and later transferred to Moroto Police Station in North Eastern Uganda
by helicopter. According to Besigye, he was not informed where he was being taken
when he boarded the helicopter. He was being detained at police without recording a
statement, and was only informed of his charges (treason and terrorism) the next
morning. On Friday 13th May at 6pm, Besigye was taken to Moroto Chief Magistrates
Court. Moroto Chief Magistrate, Charles Yeteise, read his charges, and Besigye was
remanded to Moroto Prison.268 On 16th May 2016, Yeteise, granted the State permission
to transfer Besigye from Moroto to Luzira Upper prison and transferred his file to the
Chief Registrar for re-allocation to another court.269

These incidences indicate that the police repeatedly arrest Dr Besigye and other
opposition members on mere anticipatory grounds that they might disturb public order.
However, the Constitutional Court ruled in Muwanga Kivumbi v Attorney General that if
the police entertain a reasonable belief that some disturbances might occur during the
assembly, all that can be done is to provide security and supervision in anticipation of
disturbances, and that it is the paramount duty of the police to maintain law and order
but not to curtail peoples enshrined freedoms and liberties on mere anticipatory
grounds which might turn out to be false.270 Police action to prohibit assemblies and
arrest opposition leaders on mere anticipatory grounds therefore amounts to
disobeying lawful orders, the same ground used to arrest opposition members.

5.3.2 Disappearances
Several cases were reported throughout the election period of persons who disappeared
for several days by unknown assailants, held at undisclosed locations. For instance, In
August 2015, Norman Tumuhimbise, National Coordinator of the Jobless Brotherhood,
disappeared for five days. According to Tumuhimbise, he was kidnapped by unknown
people who kept him at an undisclosed residence for five days, before dumping him near
his residence in Kasubi, Kampala on 25th August 2015. His disappearance followed
shortly after the Jobless Brotherhood dumped piglets at the gate of Parliament to
protest Parliaments excessive expenditure on luxury. Police Spokesperson, Fred
Enanga, denied that the police was involved in the disappearance of Tumuhimbise.271

266 FHRI interview with Erias Lukwago, Kampala Lord Mayor, on 10th May 2016.

267 Daily Monitor, Besigye arrested in Kampala, taken to Nalufenya, by Job Bwire and Rachel Mabala, 11th

May 2016, retrieved from http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Besigye-drives-through-Kampala-


ahead-of-Museveni-swearing-in/-/688334/3198946/-/i6ix2a/-/index.html.
268 Daily Monitor, Tension as court charges Dr Besigye with Treason, By Steven Ariong, 15th May 2016,
retrieved from: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Tension-as-court-charges-Dr-Besigye-with-
treason/-/688334/3203432/-/133p7n9/-/index.html.
269 New Vision, Opposition leader Besigye transferred to Luzira Prison, by Betty Amamukiror, 16th May 2016,
retrieved from: http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1424598/opposition-leader-besigye-
transferred-luzira-prison.
270 Judgement of Hon. A.E.N. Mpagi-Bahigeine, JA in Muwanga Kivumbi v Attorney General, Constitutional
Petition No. 9 of 2005, Constitutional Court, 2008.
271 Chimp Reports, Missing Activist Tumuhimbise Finally Dumped in Kasubi, by Kim Aine, 26th August 2015,
retrieved from: http://www.chimpreports.com/missing-activist-tumuhimbise-finally-dumped-in-kasubi/.

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69

On 1st February 2016, FDC candidate for Ibanda South, Alex Byaruhanga, went missing
three days after Dr Besigye campaigned in the town. District Police Commander, Denis
Ocaya, confirmed on 3rd February 2016 that his office had received information about
Byaruhangas disappearance and was investigating the matter. 272 Byaruhanga
resurfaced on 4th February 2016 in Kampala. He said he was kidnapped and kept in a
secret location in Kampala and later dumped near Nsambya police barracks. He
explained that he was abducted by three men and driven to Mbarara town where he was
handed over to another group who drove him to Kampala and kept him in a dark store.
Ocaya confirmed that Byaruhanga had returned and that his office was investigating the
matter.273

According to Isaac Apenyo, parliamentary candidate for Ajuri County, three of his
campaign task force members disappeared on 17th February 2016. He said that soldiers
led by Patrick Okullo Okeng (Amugu GISO) arrested his people who were distributing
appointment letters to his agents, and up to now all their phones are switched off.274
Okeng said he was not mandated to comment on security issues.275

According to Mbabazi, in late November 2015, a Go Forward supporter, Daniel Ayugi of
Abim, was picked up by security forces at Uganda House, blindfolded, driven to an
unknown location and tortured for a number of days. He was later dumped back at
Uganda House. He required surgery to recover from his injuries.276

One disappearance received particularly widespread media attention, the case of
Christopher Aine, Amama Mbabazis former head of security. Aine was reported missing
on 17th December 2015. There were allegations that he was arrested by police, and
suspicions that he was killed when a photo of a dead body depicted as Aine surfaced in
the media. Police, however, denied having Christopher Aine in custody. The case
remained unresolved until Aine resurfaced on 7th April 2016, stating he fled to Tanzania
to stay out of danger after his involvement in the Ntungamo clashes.277

5.4 CONCLUSION
The right to liberty and security of the person seems to be increasingly curtailed with
police overzealously arresting persons under the guise of public order management, and
later releasing them, often without charges. That this often happens to opposition
members and/or supporters or journalists covering opposition activities casts further
doubt on the appropriateness and lawfulness of these arrests. The most blatant violation
of the right to liberty during the 2016 election period was the preventive detention of
presidential candidate Dr Besigye at his home for 43 days between 19th February and 1st
April 2016, and again in the days prior to the swearing in of President Museveni. Despite
police arguing that they were only monitoring his movements, Dr Besigye argued
differently, not being allowed to leave his home and only being able to receive visitors
after approval from police.

272 Saturday Monitor, Ibanda FDC candidate goes missing after Besigye visit, by Elly Karenzi, 6th February

2016, p. 7.

273 Daily Monitor, Missing FDC candidate found, by Elly Karenzi, 9th February 2016, p. 13.

274 Daily Monitor, Army on the spot over missing agents, by Bill Oketch, 19th February 2016, p. 17.
275 Ibid.

276 Amama

Mbabazi, Statement to the press and public on brutalisation of Go Forward team, Press
Statement on 7th January 2016.
277 See more on the Ntungamo clashes in chapter six.

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CHAPTER SIX

ELECTORAL VIOLENCE

[D]emocratic culture and tolerance are lacking in Uganda. In many


instances democratic processes and the rule of law have been abandoned to
pave the way for unlawful and undemocratic means to achieve individual
political goals. The lack of a democratic culture and the high level of
ignorance in the country have encouraged the abuse of the Uganda
electorate by candidates, their agents and supporters.
- Select Committee on Election Violence 2002

6.1 INTRODUCTION
Human rights seek to create an environment conducive to individuals right to life,
health, freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,
and protection from deprivation of property, among others. Violence, especially with
involvement of state officials negates this and often leads to various human rights
violations. Not in the least, because security organisations have a constitutional duty to
observe human rights. Article 221 of the Constitution states that it shall be the duty of
the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces and any other armed force established in Uganda,
the Uganda Police Force and any other police force, the Uganda Prions Service, all
intelligence services and the National Security Council to observe and respect human
rights and freedoms in the performance of their functions.

6.2 TREND SINCE 2006

Following the 2001 elections, a Select Committee on Election Violence was established
to inquire into the causes of election violence in Uganda, among others. The committee
found that election violence in Uganda has been steadily increasing since 1996. 278 It also
found that the form of violence has shifted from spontaneous eruptions of fighting
resulting in injuries and destruction of property to highly organised violence resulting in
loss of life, serious and fatal injuries and massive loss of property. 279 Evidence adduced
by the committee shows that whereas many agents and candidates were found to have
participated in election violence, much of the election violence is escalated by illegal
involvement of some agents of the state.

It was found that whereas some of the state agents initiated and executed election
violence themselves, many candidates and agents who opted for violence employed
state agents, especially the UPDF, LDUs, ISOs, DISOs, GISOs, RDCs and cadres in the
Offices of RDCs to execute violence against their opponents.280

The committee recommended addressing the weak election laws and regulations;
institutional weaknesses; poverty and the commercialisation of politics and the electoral
process; ignorance and lack of a democratic culture; abuse of office and of the armed
forces; individual merit election system; and sectarianism in order to address the root
causes of election violence in Uganda.281

The 2006 and 2011 elections were generally more peaceful than the 2001 elections that
experienced widespread acts of violence, however election violence continues to occur.
In the 2006 elections, though the environment was relatively peaceful, a number of
violent incidents occurred, especially in the weeks leading up to Election Day. The EU
Election Observation Mission reported a number of incidents in which security forces
were involved in partisan politics, most notably on 15th February in Kampala, three
supporters were shot and killed when a soldier opened fire at a crowd waiting for Dr
Besigye. 282 The EU EOM further reported clashes between rival political groups in
several areas of the country and disturbance of public order, where police had to
intervene and at times forced to use tear gas and warning shots. According to the EU
EOM, unlike the elections in 2001, the incidents of violence in the 2006 election period

278 Republic of Uganda, Report of the Select Committee on Election Violence, September 2002, p. 137.
279 Ibid., pp. 140-141.
280 Ibid., pp. 141-142.
281 Ibid., pp. 175-176.

282 EU Election Observation Mission, 2006, op. cit., pp. 25-26.

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did not appear to be the result of deliberate and planned attempts to harass and
intimidate the opposition.283

Similar to the 2006 elections, the 2011 elections were characterised as being relatively
peaceful, notwithstanding a number of incidents of violence and intimidation, especially
on Election Day.284 The post-election environment was, however, marred with violence
resulting from the Walk to Work demonstrations organised countrywide. There were
reports of people throwing stones at security agents and setting fire to debris.285 The
UPF and UPDF used teargas, rubber bullets and live ammunition to disperse crowds,
including innocent bystanders and pedestrians who were not involved in the protests.286
According to a report from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
(OHCHR), teargas was fired into schools, health centers and homes, which contributed
to the admission of 15 children and three expectant mothers to Mulago Hospital.287 Over
the course of the month of April, nine people were reported to have been shot and killed
by police seeking to quell demonstrations and many more civilians were injured.288 At
least five policemen and one soldier were also injured.289

6.3 ELECTION VIOLENCE DURING THE 2016 ELECTION PERIOD

In the lead up to the 2016 elections, tensions rose as stakes were particularly high with
high level splits in the NRM, failure to effect electoral reforms and intimidation tactics
between political camps:

I think every election in Uganda, the stakes increase. The stakes now were higher
than in 2011. People looked like they were more determined to fight than in
2011.290

In the lead up to the 2016 elections there were indications of possible widespread
election violence, i.e. the mass recruitment of crime preventers followed by the creation
of militia groups in response. As a result, a multi-media campaign was launched by civil
society to pledge peace during the 2016 elections. Though, more incidences of violence
were noted during the 2016 election period compared to 2006 and 2011, the anticipated
large-scale violence fortunately did not materialise.

Both Odoi and Kulayigye argued that one of the main causes of violence is the
perception of politics as livelihood, as a career, instead of a service to the community
and the country, and as a result politicians are seen fighting opponents at any cost:

People have not seen politics as service that when you are a political leader, you
are a servant of the people. People actually enter politics as a career from where
they should lead and be big people in society. So the stakes were too high in

283 EU Election Observation Mission, 2006, op. cit., p. 26.


284 EU Election Observation Mission, 2011, op. cit., p. 5.

285 Human Rights Watch. Uganda: Walk to Work Group Declared Illegal. Retrieved on 22 July 2015 from
http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/04/04/uganda-walk-work-group-declared-illegal
286 United Nations Office of the High Commissioner. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights calls
for
constructive
dialogue.
Retrieved
on
22
July
2015
from
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=10947&LangID=E.
287 Ibid.
288 Human Rights Watch. Uganda: Walk to Work Group Declared Illegal, op. cit.
289 United Nations Office of the High Commissioner. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights calls
for constructive dialogue, op. cit.
290 FHRI interview with Dr Tanga Odoi, Chairman NRM Electoral Commission, on 29th April 2016.

CHAPTER SIX
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ELECTORAL VIOLENCE

73

primaries. We had over 100,200 people competing for just 296 positions as
members of parliament. So the primaries were bound to be chaotic.291


Another cause of election violence noted was the militarization of politics. For instance,
History Lecturer Mwambutsya Ndebesa noted:

The main cause of violence in Uganda is militarisation of political competition.
The whole notion of militarising or securitising elections will one day lead this
country to break into pieces where you have crime preventers now taking over, you
have the DISOs, GISOs, military and the police out there to militarise the whole
election exercise, definitely that was very dangerous. 292

Mistrust between the security forces and the public has also been cited as a cause of
violence:

There is a crisis of mistrust. The civilians do not trust the police. The police do not
trust the civilians. Each one of them thinks that the other is up to no good, up to
some mischief. So there is a crisis of mistrust of government institutions and
government institutions mistrusting the people. That for me is the basis. This is
simply because there have increasingly been signs of government institutions being
partisan, unfair, repressive to the people, and the people are getting agitated and
resorting to other means to claim their rights. So the bottom line is weak
institutions that are seen as biased, partisan, incompetent, violent and that do not
work for the people but for those in power.293

Lt Col. Felix Kulayigye, UPDF spokesperson, also noted that threats to violence have
increased since the 2011 elections, mainly blaming this on opposition members:

Threats to violence have increased compared to the past elections. The opposition
tried to threaten people and they actually believed that there will be chaos. A good
number of NRM supporters rushed to villages fearing for their lives.294

Threats to violence were, however, seen stemming from both opposition and ruling
party camps. Opposition members were repeatedly arrested for statements that were
deemed to incite violence, while at the same time high-ranking NRM and police officials
made public statements on using force against anybody opposing state power, fuelling
the atmosphere of violence. For instance, during the launch of the NRM campaigns in
January 2016, the NRM Secretary General, Justine Lumumba, warned that the NRM
government is not going anywhere, and if anyone would disrupt the peace they would
be shot.295 President Museveni vowed following the clashes in Ntungamo district that
whoever participated in the attacks on NRM supporters would pay dearly. Museveni
said that if you go and put your finger in the behind of a leopard, then you are in
trouble. You attack NRM people in Uganda, where do you go? Those people made a big
mistake, and whoever sent them will also regret. We shall go against him or her.296

291 Ibid.

292 FHRI interview with Mwambutsya Ndebesa, Lecturer of History at Makerere University, on 19th April

2016..

293 FHRI interview with Nicholas Opiyo, Executive Director, Chapter Four, on 11th April 2016.
294 FHRI

interview with Col. Felix Kulayigye, Chief Political Commissar, Uganda Peoples Defence Force
(UPDF), on 29th April 2016
295 Daily Monitor, Lumumba shoot-to-kill threat sparks outrage, by Nelson Wesonga, 1st February 2016,
retrieved from: http://www.monitor.co.ug/SpecialReports/Elections/Lumumba-shoot-to-kill-threat-
sparks-outrage/-/859108/3056812/-/uuv6twz/-/index.html.
296 New Vision, Mbabazi guards will pay dearly, says Museveni, by Vision Reporter, 21st December 2015, p. 4.

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The 2016 elections experienced both strategic and incidental violence. Strategic violence
mostly took the shape of deliberate intimidation and harassment of opposition
politicians and their agents and supporters. For instance, according to Alice Alaso:

My agent Enyagu Emma was beaten the following morning after election. He was
rounded up after following him and he was beaten properly. They tried to stab him
but he kept defending himself. His problem was just that he was my agent during
elections.297

Such strategic intimidation and harassment also resulted into incidental eruptions of
violence, such as the clashes in Ntungamo.

Despite EC guidelines stating that there should be no parallel rallies, throughout the
campaign period, NRM prompted citizens to take to the streets with NRM shirts and
placards and deface Mbabazi posters, when Mbabazi was holding a rally (e.g. Mukono,
Masaka, Fort Portal, Iganga, Arua).298 According to Mbabazis petition challenging the
outcome of the presidential elections:

When your petitioner was subsequently allowed to go, he was hounded and trailed
by some members of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces, the Uganda Police, a
motley crew of all the state security agencies and the so-called Crime Preventers
(sic) who would go as advance teams or would go at the time of the consultations
to dissuade voters and member of the public from attending the Petitioners
meeting and actually dispersed the petitioners meetings in diverse places in
eastern Uganda, instilled fear and harassed all who attended the said meetings,
and arrested all those who carried your petitioners manifestos, posters and other
campaign materials thereby frustrating his efforts and giving unfair advantage to
candidate Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.299

On several occasions citizens were told to stay away from Mbabazis rallies. For instance,
ahead of Mbabazis arrival in Hoima district, numerous announcements were played on
radio urging people to keep away from his rallies and instead wait for the visit of the
beloved Museveni. 300 These incidents resulted in the build up to the violence in
Ntungamo district on 13th December 2015.

On 13th December 2015, Go Forward candidate Amama Mbabazi had a scheduled rally in
Ntungamo. When Mbabazis convoy ran into a group of Museveni supporters, a stone
was thrown at one of the cars in Mbabazis convoy sparking off the clash.301 A fight
ensued between the two groups, leaving several injured. A boda boda cyclist in
Ntungamo narrated:

I got a T-shirt from a friend. He told me the President was coming and we have
been asked to put them on, that whoever was putting it on would be given four
litres of fuel. I was parked near my stage and people came and beat me. 302

297 FHRI interview with Hon. Alice Alaso Asianut, former candidate Serere Woman MP, on 4th March 2016.
298 See Chapter 3 of this report for further discussion on disruption of rallies and other public gatherings.

299 Amama Mbabazi v. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Electoral Commission, and the Attorney General,
Presidential Election Petition No. 1 of 2016, Supreme Court of Uganda, 31 st March 2016.
300 Daily Monitor, The build up to Ntungamo clahses, by Isaac Imaka, 15th December 2015, p. 5.
301 New Vision, Leaders condemn Ntungamo violence, by Eddie Ssejjoba and Jeff Lule, 15th December 2015,
p. 5.
302 Daily Monitor, Kayihura vows to arrest Mbabazi security team, by Perez Rumanzi and Isaac Imaka, 15th
December 2015, p. 4.

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Monitor Publications Ltd


Violence in Ntungamo N tungamo 13th December 2015


Even the actions of police following the violence in Ntungamo can be classified as
strategic violence by rounding up only Go Forward members, and letting NRM members
who promoted the provocation walk scot-free. Based on this incident, former IGP Julius
Peter Odwee is of the opinion that the Uganda Police Force has become partisan. He
stated that the police are supposed to treat everyone equally, and when two sides are
fighting, they should both be taken to court. 303 According to Go Forward counsel,
Severino Twinobusingye, the arrested Go Forward supporters were not even involved in
the Ntungamo incident:

The fight started in Ntungamo, people who were arrested from Kampala were
arrested from Rt Hon Mbabazis home and at the Go Forward offices in Nakasero.
They were about 31 but when they were screening, they kept only 12. The case is
still on-going. They are not from Ntungamo. They were visitors who had come to
visit Hon Mbabazi. They had nothing to do with what was going on in Ntungamo.
They were just rounded up, some of them were cleaners, tea boys while others were
Mbabazis visitors. They had nothing to do with what was going on in Ntungamo.
And they were arrested. Up to now they are facing trial. They are now out on bail,
and the case is in court.304

He further argued that crime preventers were involved in the Ntungamo violence:

Like in Ntungamo, they [crime preventers] had petrol and they wanted to burn
Hon Amama Mbabazi [his car]. That is why they fought. They fought because it is
the crime preventers who came with sticks to beat people. People defended
themselves by disarming the crime preventers and beating them. Their job

303 Daily Monitor, Police is acting partisan - former IGP Odwee, by Bill Oketch, 3rd January 2016, retrieved
from: http://www.monitor.co.ug/Magazines/PeoplePower/Police-is-acting-partisan-former-IGP-Odwee/-
/689844/3018994/-/item/0/-/qk68kz/-/index.html.
304 FHRI interview with Severino Twinobusingye, Counsel Legal Team Go Forward, on 5th April 2016.

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basically was to disrupt other peoples rallies, to deface posters, and Mbabazi was
the chief target of that militia group.305


It has been argued by many that crime preventers fuelled the atmosphere of violence
during the 2016 election period (see case study).

Case study: Crime preventers

According to statements by IGP Gen. Kale Kayihura, the police have passed out an estimated 11
million crime preventers.306 This equals approximately 256 times the size of the police force,
which stands at 43,000. Crime preventers are supposed to supplement the work of police in
keeping law and order through close monitoring of their societies and informing the police about
crime and suspected criminals in their communities.307 AIGP Asan Kasingye, elaborated on the
role of crime preventers during elections:

The role of crime preventers in elections is the same role of crime preventers in their
communities when there is no election: to make sure they work hand in hand with police to
ensure that we prevent crime. Where crime can be committed, they can help in
apprehending suspects and handing them over to police, that is all.308

In the lead up to the 2016 elections, the crime preventers increasingly attracted negative
attention with several reports of crime preventers being involved in crimes and partisan
behaviour. In several districts throughout the country, residents and local government leaders
accused crime preventers of abetting crime and mistreating suspects. For instance, according to
Robert Acaye, district councillor for Kabedo-Opong parish in Gulu district, crime preventers have
been directly involved in committing crimes.309 The Lira district Chief Administrative Officer,
Elias Byamungu, even accused crime preventers in the district of allegedly raping women and
terrorising innocent citizens.310 Residents of Bukhabusi sub-county in Manafwa District accused
crime preventers of torturing suspects when executing arrests. One resident claimed his son was
tortured to near death by crime preventers in the presence of a police officer, for trying to resist
arrest.311

In addition, crime preventers were accused of altering voters registers. According to FDC
Secretary General, Nandala Mafabi, crime preventers in Arua indicated on the voters register if
you are opposition, and that crime preventers said they were going to delete the known
opposition voters.312 On 21st December 2015, a crime preventer in Buwama town, Mpigi district,
nearly lost her life after she was found replacing names of the dead in the register with those of
people the residents of the area did not recognise.313

FHRI also received reports of crime preventers being involved in electoral malpractices on
Election Day, including ticking ballot papers on behalf of voters and ballot stuffing. For instance,


305 Ibid.

Vision, Kayihura clarifies on crime preventers reports, by Vision Reporter, 28th January 2016,
retrieved
from:
http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1415755/kayihura-clarifies-crime-
preventers-reports.
307 Uganda Police Force, Over a Million Crime Preventers Passed Out, 10th November 2015, retrieved from:
http://www.upf.go.ug/over-a-million-crime-preventers-passed-out/.
308 FHRI interview with Asan Kasingye, Assistant Inspector General of Police and Director of Interpol
Uganda, on 15th April 2016.
309 Daily Monitor, Crime preventers accused of abetting crime in Gulu, by James Owich, 1st January 2016, p. 7.
310 Daily Monitor, District boss accuses crime preventers of rape, by Bill Oketch, 19th April 2016, retrieved
from: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/District-boss-accuses-crime-preventers-raping-women-/-
/688334/3165792/-/j2q405/-/index.html.
311 Daily Monitor, Residents accuse crime preventers of torture, by Fred Wambede, 5th November 2015, p. 15.
312 Daily Monitor, Ministry probes crime preventers over altering voters register, by Nelson Wesonga, 28th
December 2015, p. 4.
313 Daily Monitor, Crime preventer escapes death over voter roll, by Saddat Mbogo, 24th December 2015,
retrieved from: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Crime-preventer-escapes-death-over-voter-
roll/-/688334/3007936/-/bb9pm1z/-/index.html.
306 New

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according to Severino Twinobusingye, counsel for Go Forward:

Rt Hon Mbabazis agents were chased from all polling stations by crime preventers. Their
work was to do ballot stuffing, pre-ticking and post-ticking. Those were some of the key
pieces of evidence that we had that were stolen. It even had a video of how they were being
instructed and by who, and where they were pre-ticking. You could see in the video, the
man is pre-ticking and went to stuff the ballots. After voting, the ballot papers which
remained, which were not used, they would go and post-tick. They would tick everything
and put it in the ballot box.314

Nicholas Opiyo noted:

Crime preventers were vigilantes for the ruling party. They acted as spies for the
government in villages where they were deployed. They would report on you, what you
were doing, who you were meeting. Secondly, several of them were seen working
alongside the police force beating people who were peacefully demonstrating. There were
crime preventers who were seen emerging from police cars to beat up people who were
peacefully demonstrating.315

A crime preventer in Fort Portal told Human Rights Watch, the commander told me that I should
fight hard and fight the other parties. He said that we are living in the ruling NRM area so other
parties do not need to surface.316

On the allegations that crime preventers were partisan and were seen wearing yellow NRM T-
shirts, AIGP Kasingye noted that crime preventers were only given white t-shirts identifying
them as crime preventers, but never yellow t-shirts. He added that the confusion was created as
the NRM was simultaneously training NRM cadres.317 He further denied any partisan nature to
the recruitment of crime preventers:

We never asked anybody what is your party. Nobody showed his party card to be involved
in crime prevention. These people were mainly mobilised by the local leadership. The local
leadership would go to a village and then identify people in that area, good people with
good standing who can work hand in hand with the police.318

Another aspect of ambiguity surrounding crime preventers was their recruitment and training
process. Many critics of the crime preventers programme have argued that they were hastily
recruited and inadequately trained, many even questioning their legality altogether:

There is no law that creates them. They do not have a legal framework within which to
operate. So they are criminals, and their actions are equally criminal. I can say this today
and tomorrow and I have said it before. I am saying this as a lawyer. There is none. I have
heard the Uganda Police trying to say that this is a reserve. It is not a reserve.319

Former Principal Judge, Justice James Ogoola also expressed his concerns regarding the legality
of crime preventers. He stated that there is no known law and legal framework under which
crime preventers operate, and questioned why the crime preventers initiative was not debated
and legislated by Parliament.320

314 FHRI interview with Severino Twinobusingye, Counsel Legal Team Go Forward, on 5th April 2016.
315 FHRI interview with Nicholas Opiyo, Executive Director, Chapter Four, on 11th April 2016.

316 Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, HURINET-U, Chapter Four and FHRI, Uganda: Suspend

Crime Preventers Massive unregulated force threatens election security, press statement, 23 rd January
2016, Kampala.
317 FHRI interview with Asan Kasingye, Assistant Inspector General of Police and Director of Interpol
Uganda, on 15th April 2016.
318 Ibid.
319 FHRI interview with Severino Twinobusingye, Counsel Legal Team Go Forward, on 5th April 2016.
320 The Observer, Justice Ogoola: crime preventers illegal, 24th December 2015, retrieved from:
http://observer.ug/news-headlines/41821-justice-ogoola-crime-preventers-illegal.

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The police, however, have come out strongly to state that they have a legal mandate to recruit
crime preventers. AIGP Kasingye clarified the issue of training by stating that because crime
preventers are civilians and their role is to provide information on crimes and suspected criminal
to police, it is not necessary to train crime preventers as extensively as police officers or
soldiers.321On the other hand, Gen. Kayihura stated during the passing out of crime preventers in
Sebei on 22nd January 2016 that all we need to do is to change the sticks and give them rifles.322
He further added:

[Y]ou are a reserve of the army. In case of war, you will be called upon because the police
are the reserve of the army, according to the law. According to the Police Act, the Minister
of Internal Affairs, at any time, can call the police to serve as a military force, so by
extension, the crime preventers in case of any a war, can be called upon as part of national
mobilisation and that is why they should be trained in skills at arms and self-defence. So
you have a force here.323

This indicates an intention to arm crime preventers, which would no longer make them civilians
and would require them to be adequately trained as a security force. According to Hon. Alice
Alaso, crime preventers in Serere District were even dressed in army uniforms. 324 UPDF
spokesperson, Lt Col Felix Kulayigye, however, denied that any crime preventers were wearing
military uniforms on Election Day.325

Monitor Publications Ltd



Crime preventers at the pass out ceremony in Lira, October 2015.


Due to these and other ambiguities, allegations and experiences, crime preventers were heavily
mistrusted by especially opposition politicians. According to Nicholas Opiyo, this further fuelled
the already violent-prone environment:

Many opposition politicians started recruiting their own groups as a result of the crime
preventers initiative. Many of these groups were involved in violent confrontations with the
authorities. So crime preventers fuelled the atmosphere of violence. 326

To learn from the experiences during the election period, and to strengthen the crime preventers
programme for purposes of crime prevention rather than crime promotion, there is need to
document the work of crime preventers to be shared with the public to enhance trust in the

321 FHRI interview with Asan Kasingye, Assistant Inspector General of Police and Director of Interpol
Uganda, on 15th April 2016.
322 New Vision, Crime preventers are legal Gen. Kayihura, 29th January 2016, retrieved from:
http://www.elections.co.ug/new-vision/election/1415857/crime-preventers-legal-gen-kayihura.
323 Ibid.
324 FHRI interview with Hon. Alice Alaso Asianut, former candidate Serere Woman MP, on 4th March 2016.
325 FHRI interview with Col. Felix Kulayigye, Chief Political Commissar, Uganda Peoples Defence Force
(UPDF), on 29th April 2016
326 FHRI interview with Nicholas Opiyo, Executive Director, Chapter Four, on 11th April 2016.

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programme. In addition, it is key that crime preventers are adequately regulated through
transparent guidelines that ensure their impartiality, effectively trained and held accountable for
any misconduct.


During Election Day and declaration of results in the days following Election Day,
various cases of incidental violence were reported. For instance, near Molly and Paul
polling station in Makindye, Kampala, angry voters tried to lynch an unidentified man
who was found with pre-ticked ballot papers in favour of the NRM candidate.327

On 19th February 2016, in Bulambuli District, a fight ensued between supporters of two
candidates for the Woman MP seat, Sarah Wekomba and Irene Muloni, Minister of
Energy and Mineral Development at the district tally centre. Police said Wekombas
supporters armed with crude tools such as stones and clubs, beat anyone they suspected
to be supporting Muloni. Wekomba claimed they had detected a ploy for the vote to be
rigged in favour of her opponent. The police, overwhelmed by the situation, called upon
the UPDF to assist in overpowering the rioters.328

On the same day, Steven Sekayu, a 17-year-old boy, was shot and injured as police
battled supporters of the FDC. Steven Sekayu sustained injuries on the legs and buttocks
where he was hit by four bullets as police fired live ammunition to quell a
demonstration by FDC supporters in Bugiri to protest the declaration of Agnes Taaka
Wejuli, as winner of the race for the District Woman MP seat.329 Such indiscriminate
firing into a crowd is always unlawful.330

On 4th March, during the district youth elections in Mukono a group of youth attempted
to lynch the returning officer, Sarah Kalyowa, accusing her of using a fake register that
had only 400 voters instead of the expected 720 voters, and later bringing another
register with 720 voters but with photos of voters missing. The youth became more
unruly and started kicking ballot boxes and attempted to burn them. This prompted
police and military personnel to intervene by firing bullets in the air to disperse the
enraged youth who had started pulling Kalyowas dress and pushing her. Kalyowa and
some youth were arrested taken to Mukono Police Station for investigations.331

Supporters of incumbent MP and DP parliamentary candidate for Mukono Municipality,
Betty Nambooze, were reported to have been attacked by people with machetes and
sticks in Goma sub-county on the eve of voting day at about 9.30pm. According to
Nambooze, her car windows were smashed and her son called Geoffrey Kisawuzi had
gone missing. More than 70 people are said to have been injured in the fighting which
ensued.332

FHRI further recorded several incidents of violence in Lugazi, Buikwe district, in
particular relating to the mayoral elections. For instance, Irene (alias) narrated how she
was attacked and unable to get adequate treatment:

327 Saturday Monitor, Gunfire rocks Makindye over pre-ticked ballots, by Anthony Wesaka and Lilian
Namagembe, 20th February 2016, p. 31.
328 Saturday Monitor, 40 held in Bulambuli over poll violence, by David Mafabi and Rebecca Kabuya, 20th
February 2016, p. 35.
329 Daily Monitor, Family demands police pays bills of shot student, by Asuman Musobya, 25th February
2016, p. 14.
330 UN General Assembly (A/HRC/31/66), op. cit., p. 14.
331 Sunday Monitor, Police rescue EC officer from mob, by Jessica Sabano, 6th March 2016, p. 6.
332 Daily Monitor, Shock. Nambooze Agents Hacked, 19th February 2016, p. 10.

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On Friday 4th March 2016, two days after the Mayoral elections, my landlord and
the neighbours [supporters of Tumwebaze Deo former mayoral candidate for
Lugazi] knocked at my door while they were jubilating and calling me Hon A seyas
wife, yet I am just a supporter [of Hon Aseya Onzuma, Lugazi mayor]. Thinking it
was normal politics, I opened the door and upon opening, they pulled me out of the
house and started beating me. During the beating, one of the tenants picked a big
stone and stoned my head and I got a big cut. They told me that I should go join my
mayor in the hospital and we both get treatment since he was also nursing wounds.
After realizing that I had got a big cut I decided to go and report the matter to
police. At police I found my attacker (Nakimuli Jamira) had already reported
herself that she had beaten a drunkard from her house. When the police saw the
wound they decided to detain her. The next day she was released on orders of a
man who claimed to be working for the state house. I was unable to get the name
of the man but he told me he was going make sure I get treatment. He gave me
50,000 [UGX]333 and he said that was enough for the treatment. After some days
when I went back to follow up the matter, I went with a receipt from the clinic
showing how much they were demanding me (sic); he went to the clinic and
threatened them, so they have refused to treat me again.334

FHRI

Irenes (alias) head injuries following an attack by supporters in the opposing camp,
Lugazi district.

Joseph (alias) had a similar experience:

On 2nd March 2016 the day we voted for the Mayor, I was Aseyas agent at the
district polling station. After election, but before counting the votes, the MP elect
Mulindwa Sozzi Isaac [came] to the polling station holding an AK47 machine gun
and a pistol. He was wearing the army uniform, yet he is a civilian. He came with
soldiers and they had two ballot boxes with pre-ticked ballot papers in favour of
Tumwesigye Deo, Mayor elect. The people refused to allow them to interrupt the

333 Equivalent to 15 USD

334 FHRI interview with Irene (alias) on 8th March 2016.

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counting of the votes but they instead started shooting and beating people. I was
beaten using a gun butt on the knee and I could not run. I was arrested by the army
officers and taken to police for a night. The next day, the police released me
without treatment and I was told to go and treat myself. I fear perusing the matter
because I was beaten and arrested by the police and the Army so I fear that they
might attack me.335

FHRI

Josephs (alias) swollen knee that was hit using a gun butt, Lugazi district.

6.4 CONCLUSION

Mistrust of the citizens in the election process and between citizens and security forces,
has led to increased tensions and incidences of violence in the 2016 election period. The
passing out of large numbers of crime preventers shortly before the elections fuelled
this environment of violence. This calls for enhanced dialogue between citizens and
police, as well as accountability of security officers who perpetuate violence and/or
behave in a partisan manner contrary to their mandate. It further calls for reforms in the
electoral framework to enhance trust of the electorate in the administration of elections.


335 FHRI interview with Joseph (alias) on 8th March 2016.

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CHAPTER SEVEN
ACCESS TO JUSTICE

Justice delayed is justice denied


- William Gladstone -

7.1 INTRODUCTION
The ICCPR provides that states must ensure that any person whose rights or freedoms
are violated shall have an effective remedy.336 Article 28 of the Constitution provides
every Ugandan with the right to a fair, speedy and public hearing before an independent
and impartial court or tribunal established by law.

In respect of elections, the Constitution further provides that any aggrieved presidential
candidate may petition the Supreme Court for an order that a candidate declared by the
Electoral Commission elected as President was not validly elected.337 In addition to the
court system, the Electoral Commission also has jurisdiction to hear and determine
election complaints arising before and during polling.338

7.2 TREND SINCE 2006

In 2006, the Electoral Commission received a total of 856 complaints or petitions before
and during the general elections. The most common complaints were in relation to
requests to nullify declared results (31.5%), academic papers of candidates (31.3%),
resignations (14.0%), intimidation during campaigns and on polling day (7.0%), and
inaccurate ballot papers (6.2%).339 Of the 856 complaints, 528 complaints were handled,
180 were abandoned by the complainant and 148 were found to have insufficient
evidence.340

In 2011, the Electoral Commission only reported on pre-election complaints, which fell
in two categories: nominated candidates who did not comply with electoral laws and
candidates who were not nominated on alleged failure to satisfy the nomination
requirements.341 The Commission received a total of 358 nomination related complaints,
following from which 99 nominations were upheld and 21 disqualified.342

7.2.1 Presidential election petition
As in 2001, FDC presidential candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye, challenged the 2006 election
outcome citing sizeable differences between results from poling stations and voting
districts, voter disenfranchisement, and tampering with the voters register, among
others. The Supreme Court ruled that the principle of free and fair elections was
compromised by bribery and intimidation or violence in some areas of the country and
that the principles of equal suffrage, transparency of the vote, and secrecy of the ballot
were undermined by multiple voting and vote stuffing in some areas. 343 Despite
declaring that the elections were not free and fair and malpractices affected the results,
the Supreme Court Justices voted 4 against 3 to uphold the results of the election
outcome on the basis that the irregularities did not substantially alter the outcome of
the election.

After unsuccessfully petitioning court in 2001 and 2006, Besigye vowed never to return
to the courts of law over election irregularities. In 2011, instead of challenging the
results in court, Besigye launched nationwide protests under the banner of the Walk-to-
Work demonstrations.

336 Article 2(3)(a) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966.
337 Article 104 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995.
338 Ibid., Article 61(1)(f).

339 Electoral Commission, Report on the 2005/2006 General Elections, August 2006, par. 5.9.
340 Ibid., par. 5.9.

341 Electoral Commission, Report on the 2010/2011 General Elections, July 2011, p. 54.
342 Ibid., p. 55.

343 Rtd. Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye v Electoral Commission, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (Election Petition No.1 Of
2006), Supreme Court of Uganda, 30th January 2007.

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7.3 ACCESS TO JUSTICE DURING THE 2016 ELECTION PERIOD


7.3.1 EC Complaints desk
The Electoral Commission was unable to provide information on the number of
complaints during the 2016 general elections at the time of writing of this report.344
According to Dr Badru Kiggundu, Chairman of the Electoral Commission:

We received cases of missing names of people on the register. People called and
some would say I registered here but I cannot find my name. So we would ask what
indicates that they registered there, give us your particulars and we get back to
you. So we would take their names and the application number. So if that
application number was availed and the names we would trace from our
computers and we would advise the people where to vote from and if not in our
register, we would tell them that they are not in our registers. We called back
because that was the essence of the complaints desk.345

The Go Forward legal team, however, did not express much confidence in accessing
justice through the EC complaints desk:

We had so many complaints filed at the Electoral Commission before Kiggundu
and none of them were heard.346

This is a lame electoral commission. It is not capable of doing anything. It is
incapacitated structure-wise. The way it is structured, it is incapable of resolving
anything.347

Wilson Kinyonyi a candidate seeking to represent Nyamwambwa division in Kasese
district petitioned the EC with concerns that the candidate EC nominated, Mutunzi, was
announced illegally by the party registrar during the NRM primaries. Kinyonyi argued
that Mutunzi was announced winner before receiving results from one parish and he
alerted the party secretariat, and even went to Kasese magistrate court to challenge the
results. Court issued an interim order to stop the nomination of Mutunzi but the EC
returning officer of Kasese district ignored the court order and went ahead with the
nomination. Kinyonyi petitioned the EC seeking audience to present his case. He was
invited by the EC for the tribunal to hear his case. The EC, however, had not made a
decision when elections were held.348

Serukenya David is another alleged victim of the EC. He registered with the national
identification exercise and when the EC came to verify its extracted data on 27th April
2015 he participated in the exercise to ensure his name was on the voters register. He
even went for the display exercise in August 2015. When he checked, his name was not
on the register. The EC officers gave him a slip to fill. When the EC announced the
nomination days he went and picked nomination forms from the returning officer of
Wakiso district, Hajjat Bukirwa Sarah. He returned all the forms as required by law. She
verified and assured him that he had met the requirements. On 2nd December 2015, he
received a call from the returning officer informing him that his name was not among
those on the register. She advised him to seek redress from the supervisor of Makindye

344 Communication with Jennifer Angeyo, Head Legal Department Electoral Commission on 20th May 2016.
345 FHRI interview with Dr Badru Kiggundu, Chairperson Electoral Commission, on 13th May 2016.

346 FHRI interview with Severino Twinobusingye, Counsel, Legal Team Go Forward, on 5th April 2016.

347 FHRI interview with Basalirwa Asuman, Party President of JEEMA (Justice Forum) and Counsel for Go
Forward, on 5th April 2016.
348 Information received from Citizens Elections Observers Network Uganda on 24th May 2016.

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to produce a manual register to prove whether he was on the register. He found his
name in the manual register under number 44. Serukenya also had evidence that he
registered for the National Identification Register on 22nd April 2015. He petitioned the
EC and even wrote a letter to the legal division which assured him that they will handle
the matter. The EC, however, failed to handle his case, and he decided to file a case at the
High Court. The Chairman of the Electoral Commission sent a lawyer who requested to
settle the matter out of court at the EC.349 According to EC Chairperson Dr Kiggundu:

I told him while I was seated in my chair as the supreme court judge of the
Electoral Commission that his case would not sail. For us as the Electoral
Commission, if we could not find him while we were downloading information from
the national register, we could not claim that you are actually a voter. You might
claim that you are a voter but there are some people who went and registered
partially and stopped somewhere because they had forgotten some information. So
that data cannot be included in the system. The process had to be concluded. He
happens to be one of them who as far as I am concerned, his particulars were not
complete.350

The Electoral Commission Act does not specify a timeline within which complaints must
be handled, hampering the enforcement of timely remedies.

7.3.2 Presidential election petition
On 1st March 2016, Amama Mbabazi filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging
the election of Yoweri Kaguta Museveni as President. Mbabazi gave 28 grounds in his
petition to seek annulment of the election outcome, including voter bribery, intimidation
and threats, misuse of crime preventers as a state militia, interference in consultations
and campaign activities, unequal media coverage, misuse of government resources, late
opening of polling stations, ballot stuffing, multiple voting, use of a disputed voters
register, and interference in the operation of Go Forward agents.351 According to the Go
Forward legal team they had collected evidence from over 300 witnesses across the
country to support the petition:

For every allegation there must be a witness, who saw or who was a victim. So we
had witnesses who saw for example bribery. We had witnesses who received bribes.
We had witnesses who were victims of torture. We had witnesses who themselves
were crime preventers and who had instructions on what crimes to commit for
purposes of preventing peaceful elections to take place. We had all those. On every
case we had evidence, not one not two but as many as we could. This case was
much stronger than all the presidential election cases that we have had before, in
2001 and 2006. In 2001 I think Besigye had less than 200 affidavits. In 2006 they
had 200 affidavits. We had 410 affidavits.352

The evidence collected by the Go Forward legal team was, however, stolen when lead
lawyer Muhammad Mbabazis offices were broken into on 8 th March 2016. Severino
Twinobusingye, one of Mbabazis lawyers explained how this affected their case:

The evidence was stolen on the last day the court had given us. So you cannot run
across the whole country when you have barely 5 hours to the close of business of
the day the court has given you. If we had more time that would be

349 Information received from Citizens Elections Observers Network Uganda on 24th May 2016.

350 FHRI interview with Dr Badru Kiggundu, Chairperson Electoral Commission, on 13th May 2016.

351 Amama Mbabazi v. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Electoral Commission, and the Attorney General,
Presidential Election Petition No. 1 of 2016, Supreme Court of Uganda, 31 st March 2016.
352 FHRI interview with Severino Twinobusingye, Counsel Legal Team Go Forward, on 5th April 2016.

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understandable. But even when that was the case, after we had asked court to
allow us to put in rejoinders to some of the evidence that was given, court allowed
us to put in rejoinders, we put it in and afterwards court changed its mind and it
expelled the evidence that was already before it. So we were a little bit disturbed
when they kept saying there was no evidence. But they had the evidence and you
expunged it from the record.353


Twinobusingye accused the State of being behind the break-in:

The people who came to take documents and computers from the office of
Mbabazi Mohammed, were dressed in police uniform. They were seen dressed in
police uniform and in military uniform. These are state agents. There is nobody
who has possession of police uniform and military uniform other than the state. So
you can conclusively say that it was the state at work. 354

He further argued that the police subsequently used the stolen evidence to track down
and arrest witnesses:

After breaking into our offices, they stole all the evidence and that is what was
used to track down our witnesses and they were arrested like grasshoppers. You
see, when a witness comes to me and I am supposed to take an affidavit from you, I
first record particulars, like biometrics and so on, including where you stay. That
information was taken. This is what they used to trace these particular individuals
from wherever they were across the country and they were arrested and there is no
protection that we have that you can accord them, because it is the state which is
supposed to protect but here it is a situation where you have the state going
around the villages and arresting the citizens. So even if you were to protect,
against who? Because the state is supposed to protect, but it is the state arresting
the people.355

Despite these challenges and irregularities, the hearing continued, and on 31st March
2016, the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the petition upholding the outcome of
the 2016 elections, primarily for want of evidence by the petitioner.

Many have criticised the court proceedings. Basalirwa Asuman, JEEMA party president
and Go Forward lawyer, for instance, argued:

I think the court should have moved on its own, in its role as carrying out an
inquiry, to appreciate the fact that this evidence is not there. It should have, for
instance, called observers on its own, because the law allows them. Now that the
petition of the observers to be amicus curiae had been thrown out, they should
have called them and others.356

Twinobusingye holds a similar opinion:

I also think their lordships need to broaden up, because the Constitution is very
clear that the presidential election petition is not a trial. It is not a civil trial. It is
an inquiry. So the court should be able to open up and go beyond and really inquire
into the matter. Inquiry means looking into what has been presented by the

353 FHRI interview with Severino Twinobusingye, Counsel Legal Team Go Forward, on 5th April 2016.
354 Ibid.
355 Ibid.

356 FHRI interview with Basalirwa Asuman, Party President of JEEMA (Justice Forum) and Counsel for Go
Forward, on 5th April 2016.

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petitioner, but also you must go outside and call in experts, calling people that you
really think should be able to come in and look at all observers, like international
observers who have come to observe, and anything, to be able to come to a just
conclusion.357

Monitor Publications Ltd

EC Chairman Dr Badru Kiggundu being cross-examined on the fourth day of the


presidential petition at the Supreme Court


Court was actually seen to be more restrictive than in previous presidential election
petitions:

One thing which was unique in this petition was that, in previous petitions court
was flexible and would allow affidavits to come in, in the course of the proceedings.
This time, the Chief Justice said no you cannot file beyond this. 358

Another challenge cited was that of time:

We discovered that time was not enough. We had 10 days in which to file the
petition and do all that is required. 10 days is too short. First of all, for us as
counsel and for the court itself. Everything had to be done within 30 days and the
10 days are part of the 30 days for the case. So it is not enough. I think the
presidential election petition should be given 60 days within which it should be
disposed off. We give 30 days for the petitioner to file his case and for all the other
pre-trial procedures that should be taken like filing, serving and putting in the
reply, rejoinders and sub-rejoinders and any matter that might come up. In a
parliamentary election petition you have got 30 days within which to file, and yet
the presidential petition is extremely important and it is national. 60 days would

357 FHRI interview with Severino Twinobusingye, Counsel Legal Team Go Forward, on 5 th April 2016.

358 FHRI interview with Basalirwa Asuman, Party President of JEEMA (Justice Forum) and Counsel for Go
Forward, on 5th April 2016.

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be sufficient, for the petitioner to file and also handle the other pre-trial
procedures, and then court should have 30 days within which to hear this case.359


This same challenge was noted by the Supreme Court in the 2006 presidential election
petition. Then Chief Justice, Benjamin Odoki, argued:

In my view, there is also a need to review and increase the period of ten days
within which to file the petition and the period of thirty days within which the
Court is to declare its findings, as provided for in Article 104 of the Constitution
and Sections 59 of the Presidential Elections Act. The period within which the
petition should be determined should be increased to at least sixty days to give the
parties and the Court sufficient time to prepare, present, hear and determine the
petition.360

On a positive note, the Supreme Court in its ruling on 31st March did take note of a
number of concerns, including the incumbents use of his position to the disadvantage of
other candidates, the use of state resources, unequal use of state owned media and late
enactment of relevant legislation. In addition, the Supreme Court referred to the
recommendations made in the previous two presidential election petitions in 2001 and
2006 with regard to the need for legal reform, and that many of these calls by the
Supreme Court have remained unanswered. It urged the executive and legislature again
to address legal reforms in the electoral laws.

7.3.3 Request for independent election audit by FDC
The FDC also contested the outcome of the 2016 presidential elections. Due to the
restrictions of Dr Besigye, and the inability to mobilise sufficient resources and
evidence, the FDC was unable to petition court over the elections:

We kept thinking our candidate was going to get out of house arrest so that we go
ahead with our case. That never happened. And there were some affidavits that
Besigye needed to swear as a candidate. He couldnt swear them from his home. If
there is an affidavit you must prove that you swore the affidavit before a
commission of oath. Besigyes home is not a chamber. So there is no way he could
have sworn the affidavits from his home.361

According to Yusuf Nsibambi, one of Besigyes lawyers, said the legal team had
overwhelming evidence which could have caused the Supreme Court to nullify the
election results, however to facilitate the petition process would require more than 100
million UGX,362 which he said could not be raised with Besigye being prevented from
leaving his home.363

Instead of petitioning court, the FDC called for an independent audit of the 2016
presidential elections. According to Gen. Mugisha Muntu, FDC party president:

There are 50 polling stations that all registered 100 per cent turn-up. All of them
voted for one candidate. An independent audit will go down there and prove
those things. There are some stations where the voters are more than those

359 FHRI interview with Severino Twinobusingye, Counsel Legal Team Go Forward, on 5th April 2016.

360 Rtd. Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye v Electoral Commission,Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (Election Petition No.1 Of

2006), Supreme Court of Uganda, 30th January 2007.


361 FHRI interview with Hon. Winifred Kiiza, Woman MP Kasese district, on 15th April 2016.
362 Equivalent to 29,600 USD
363 Saturday Monitor, EU ambassadors meet Besigye, by Stephen Kafeero, 27th February 2016, p. 3.

CHAPTER SEVEN
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registered. There are so many stations where only one declaration of results (DF)
form was issued."364


7.3.4 Parliamentary election petitions
In addition, to the presidential election petition, at least 118 parliamentary candidates
petitioned the High Court over the results of the 2016 parliamentary elections. The High
Court has given priority to hear election cases, and appointed 26 judges to dispose of the
118 petitions before the end of June 2016.365

7.4 CONCLUSION
A lack of confidence in the complaints desk of the Electoral Commission and the absence
of a timeframe within which the EC must handle complaints, hamper timely and
adequate access to justice for electoral related disputes. Access to justice through a
presidential election petition at the Supreme Court was also hampered by several
factors, most notably insufficient time for the petitioners to compile a strong case and
the court to adequately inquire into the alleged violations. The theft of evidence and
alleged arrests and intimidation of witnesses is likely to lead to increased fear of persons
to swear affidavits in support of future election petitions, thereby further hampering
possibilities of access to justice.

Monitor, We want independent audit of poll results Mugisha Muntu, by Eriasa Mukkibi
Sserunjjogi, 3rd March 2016, p. 5.
365 Daily Monitor, 26 judges to dispose of 118 MP poll petitions, by Anthony Wesaka, 3rd May 2016, retrieved
from:
http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/26-judges-to-dispose-of-118-MP-poll-petitions/-
/688334/3186346/-/2wog6cz/-/index.html.
364 Daily

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CHAPTER EIGHT

CONCLUSION
AND
RECOMMENDATIONS

8.1 CONCLUSION
The 2016 elections were marred with irregularities and human rights violations. The
right to vote was violated due to the widespread occurrence of electoral offences
including voter bribery, multiple voting, pre-ticked ballot papers and altering of results;
as well as late delivery of materials, described by the Supreme Court as evidence of
incompetence and gross inefficiency by the electoral body.

A narrowing of the civic space in Uganda has resulted in an increase in violations of the
freedom of expression and assembly. Widespread intimidation and arbitrary arrests of
opposition politicians and journalists, as well as interference in political rallies and
media operations stifled free expression of political opinion and access to information
for the electorate to make an informed decision. Confining the movements of a
presidential candidate to his home for 43 days, thereby interfering with this right to
vote in local council elections, and the opportunity to petition the results of the
presidential elections, among others, without imminent threat to national security is a
sign of severe disregard for human rights and the rule of law.

The Supreme Court is the highest authority in the country on accessing justice, yet did
not always uphold human rights standards in its rulings during the 2016 elections. The
interim order banning all public meetings and pronouncements on the defiance
campaign was a blatant violation of the freedoms of expression and assembly. The
Supreme Court could also have done more to inquire into the freeness and fairness of an
election that was so widely disputed by the public.

These and other shortcomings and violations have resulted in further mistrust of the
election administration by the public. There is, therefore, a need to overhaul the current
electoral framework, and in particular ensure independence of all relevant institutions,
most notably the Electoral Commission, judiciary, Uganda Police Force, Uganda Peoples
Defence Forces, and Uganda Communications Commission.

This can be achieved through a combination of legislative reform and national dialogue.
By solely reforming the laws, the practice may not change, as even the existing legal
framework is often not respected. There is thus a need for dialogue to reach national
consensus.


8.2 RECOMMENDATIONS
To the government:
1. Introduce comprehensive electoral and political reforms to strengthen the
electoral laws in Uganda necessary for the holding of free and fair elections that
would garner the trust of the ordinary citizen.
2. Investigate the root causes of the recurrent violence and killings in the Rwenzori
region with a view to devising a lasting solution.
3. Respect and uphold the independence and impartiality of the other arms of
government and constitutional institutions such as the Electoral Commission
and Uganda Communications Commission.

To Parliament:
1. Amend S. 15 of the Electoral Commission Act, Cap. 140 to introduce a time limit
within which the Electoral Commission must resolve complaints.
2. Amend Article 104(2) and (3) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda,
1995 (as amended in 2005) and S. 59 (2) and (3) of the Electoral Commission

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Act, Cap. 140 to extend the time for lodging an election petition from 10 to 30
days and for the Supreme Court to determine the petition at least 60 days after
the declaration of results.
3. Amend S. 19(1)(b) of the Electoral Commission Act, Cap. 140 to allow persons
below 18 years to register for the National Voters Register, provided the person
turns 18 before Election Day.
4. Amend the electoral laws to make provisions for persons in detention,
particularly those in pre-trial detention, and Ugandans in the diaspora to
exercise their right to vote.

To the Electoral Commission:
1. Ensure timely delivery of voting materials to all polling stations nationwide.
2. Ensure transparency at every stage of the electoral process, including
recruitment and training of election officials, resolution of disputes, distribution
of materials, counting and tallying of ballots and declaration of results.
3. Ensure adequate and timely disposal of electoral complaints in a transparent
manner.

To the Uganda Police Force:
1. Refrain from selective implementation of the Public Order Management Act,
2013 and instead regulate and facilitate the enjoyment of the right to freedom of
peaceful assembly in accordance with Article 29(1)(d) of the Constitution of the
Republic of Uganda, 1995.
2. Refrain from using excessive force in regulating public gatherings and effecting
arrests, and ensure that police officers are equipped with sufficient non-lethal
crowd control equipment such as rubber bullets and tear gas, but even these
should only be applied proportionately and only when absolutely necessary.
3. Ensure accountability for all police officers involved in human rights violations
and partisan behaviour recorded during the election period.
4. Provide for the regulatory framework for crime preventers, in particular relating
to their recruitment, training, mandate and accountability.

To the Directorate of Public Prosecutions:
1. Prosecute all persons suspected to have committed electoral offences to curb
impunity of perpetrators and electoral malpractices.
2. Prosecute all security officers involved in human rights violations including but
not limited to excessive use of force, extrajudicial killings, and arbitrary arrests.

To the Uganda Communications Commission:
1. Respect and promote the freedom of expression in Uganda, avoiding arbitrary
closure of social media.
2. Enable a conducive environment for the media to operate free from intimidation
and harassment, refraining from arbitrary closure of media houses or threats to
withdraw licences.

To the judiciary:
1. Uphold the independence of the judiciary, avoiding issuing arbitrary orders that
undermine the rule of law.

To all political players:
1. Desist from engaging in the commercialisation of politics characterised by
malpractices such as voter bribery, stuffing ballot boxes with pre-ticked ballots
and altering of results, among others.

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93

To the media:
1. Ensure equal media coverage of all candidates, ruling party and opposition alike.

To the general public:
1. Refrain from engaging in unlawful behaviour, including inciting or participating
in violence.

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PROGRAMMES:
PROGRAMMES:
1.

RESEARCH, ADVOCACY AND LOBBYING


1.
RESEARCH, ADVOCACY AND LOBBYING
Overall Objective:
Overall Objective:

2.

LEGAL SERVICES
2.
LEGAL SERVICES
Overall Objective:
Overall
To promote
access Objective:
to justice for poor and vulnerable persons in Uganda.
To promote access to justice for poor and vulnerable persons in Uganda.

3.

CIVIC EDUCATION
3.
CIVIC EDUCATION
Overall Objective:
Overall
To enhance
humanObjective:
rights and civic awareness in order to increase demand for
To social
enhance
human rights and civic awareness in order to increase demand for
political and
accountability.
political and social accountability.

4.

EXTERNAL SERVICES
4.
EXTERNAL SERVICES
Overall objective:
objective:
To improveOverall
information
sharing and management, promote collective
To improveparticipation
informationand
sharing
management,
promoteand
collective
advocacy, maximize
buildand
consensus
on democracy
advocacy,
maximize
participation
and
build
consensus
on
democracy
and
human rights issues in Uganda.
human rights issues in Uganda.

5.

SPECIAL PROJECTS
5.
RIGHTS AND RULE OF LAW PROGRAM
1: Paralegal
Advisory
Services (PAS)
Overall
objective:
To promote judicial independence through building the human rights
Objective:knowledge of judicial officers, strengthening judicial officers associations,
To promote
access
to justice
for poor
marginalized
persons within the
public
interest
litigation
andand
public
outreach campaigns.
criminal justice system.
6.
SPECIAL PROJECTS
2: Citizens Coalition On Electoral Democracy In Uganda (CCEDU)
1: Paralegal Advisory Services (PAS)
Objective:Objective:
EnhancingTo
citizens
participation
and leadership
accountability
inpersons
Ugandas
promote
access to justice
for poor and
marginalized
within the
political processes.
criminal justice system.
2: Citizens Coalition On Electoral Democracy In Uganda (CCEDU)
Objective:
Enhancing citizens participation and leadership accountability in Ugandas
political processes.
3: Citizens Election Observers Network Uganda (CEON-U)
Objective:
To promote transparency and integrity, accountability as well as increase
citizen participation in Uganda's electoral process.