Uganda is poised to pass a law granting a government-appointed board nearly incontestable power to reject or dissolve nongovernmental and community-based organizations.
Activists see the new — more punitive — legislation as part of a broader effort to restrict their freedoms of expression and association ahead of next year’s presidential vote. The bill introduces stiff penalties and even jail time for NGO and CBO employees who violate its vague requirements.
And they worry the new act, which allows an already existing and largely autonomous NGO board to shutter groups when “it is in the public interest to do so,” could also be turned against organizations offering services to LGBT communities and other marginalized groups.
The government has argued that the new legislation is critical to regulating an NGO sector that has been allowed to grow unwieldy and, in some instances, to threaten the public good.
Andrew is a print and radio reporter (and occasional photographer) based in East Africa. He writes often from the region on issues of health and human rights. He has also worked as Voice of America’s South Sudan bureau chief and as the Center for Public Integrity’s Web editor.
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