The European Parliament has urged the president of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to end persistent use of force and arbitrary arrests and detention of and attacks against opposition politicians and supporters, protesters, human rights defenders and journalists in the country.
Chaired by President David Sassoli, Parliament was debating Uganda’s 2021 general election report noting that the elections were neither democratic nor transparent. They reiterated that sanctions against individuals and organisations responsible for human rights violations in Uganda must be adopted under the new EU human rights sanction mechanism, the so-called EU Magnitsky Act.
On Thursday 14th January, 2021, the Electoral Commission conducted presidential elections where Ugandans exercised their constitutional rights of choosing a president who will lead them through a five year term. Uganda has a total 18,103,603 registered voters and 34,684 polling stations however only 10,350,819 people turned up to vote.
The presidential election which comprised 11 candidates was won by President Yoweri Museveni Tibuhaburwa Kaguta who got 6,042,898 (58.38%). His closest opponent Kyagulanyi Robert Sentamu got 3,631,437 votes (35.08%).
The report indicates that the election process was marred with massive irregularities including state inspired violence, intimidation and harassment of my supporters and arbitrary arrest and detention of presidential candidates.
“Parliament calls on the Ugandan Government to ensure justice and accountability for all victims by carrying out impartial, thorough and independent investigations into the shootings and violence perpetrated by security forces, and similarly calls on the Ugandan judiciary to objectively and independently apply the existing legislative framework and to take full note of the facts and evidence available,” the report reads in part.
The MPs wants Ugandan authorities to launch an immediate independent investigation into the tragic events of 18 and 19 November 2020, where at least 54 people needlessly lost their lives at the hands of the police following the arrest of Bobi Wine, and where hundreds more were injured, something that President Museveni himself has acknowledged, and to hold those responsible to account.
They Underlined that appeals against and challenges to election results are a fundamental feature of a credible electoral process; expects all election challenges and complaints to be addressed in an independent and transparent manner using the available constitutional and legal remedies.
“We Reminds the Ugandan authorities of their obligation to guarantee, protect and promote fundamental rights including the civil and political rights of the country’s citizens fair representation regardless of ethnic background, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, and to affirm the crucial role that the political opposition, civil society actors, journalists and the media play in the country; calls on the authorities to lift any restrictions that may limit people’s right to freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of association.”
They urged the Ugandan authorities to end the arbitrary suspension of civil society activities, and the arrests of civil society activists and the freezing of their financial assets; in this regard, condemns in the strongest terms the attempts to limit civil society funding, in particular by President Museveni’s order to suspend the multi-million euro DGF, a pooled fund coordinated by the EU and national development partners to support groups working to promote human rights, deepen democracy and improve accountability in Uganda.
They recommended for increased scrutiny of Uganda’s fiscal management and transparency; urges the Commission and the European External Action Service to continue conducting systematic reviews of EU budget support programmes where there is a risk of funds being diverted for use by the Ugandan authorities in activities which may abet human rights abuses and target activists;