Uganda: UN experts extremely concerned at serious rights violations linked to general elections (13.04.2021)

GENEVA (13 April 2021) — UN human rights experts* today called on the Government of Uganda to immediately stop the brutal crackdown on its political opponents which began in the lead-up to January’s disputed general elections and continues to suppress opposition supporters.

“We are particularly alarmed by the reports of widespread and continued repression against opposition leaders and their supporters,” the experts said. “More than 50 people have been killed as a result of the brutal policing methods, including the use of live ammunition fired without warning, and at least 20 others have lost their lives in incidents linked to the electoral context.”

They urged the authorities to immediately and thoroughly investigate and prosecute all human rights violations, including allegations of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearance, torture and ill treatment, deprivation of due process of law and assault on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Several thousand people have been arrested and while some have been released, others have allegedly been tortured before appearing in military courts, the experts said. Relatives of others often do not know their fate or whereabouts. “It is outrageous that those who are requesting information about their forcibly disappeared relatives are further subjected to reprisals and arrest,” the independent experts said.

“We are urging the Government of Uganda to take all necessary measures to immediately stop the concealing of information concerning individuals arrested in the context of the general elections, a practice amounting to enforced disappearance, and reveal their fate and whereabouts.

“The arbitrary house arrest between 14 and 25 January 2021 of the prominent opposition leader known as Bobi Wine (Mr. Kyagulanyi), which a High Court ruled to be unconstitutional, is symptomatic of the flagrant suppression tactics of the opposition and the absence of due process of law,” the experts said.

Opposition leaders and their supporters have protested against alleged electoral irregularities and the prohibition of gatherings under the guise of preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The massive deployment of armed forces in cities, as well as the intimidation and attacks of opposition observers at polling stations, reportedly affected voter turnout; while the interruption of internet services slowed the voting process and affected counting.

“The curtailing of freedom of press and media, the intimidation, ill-treatment and assaults of journalists covering the elections and especially the opposition is simply unacceptable. The Government must provide immediate remedies and reparation to all the victims,” the experts said.

ENDS

****The experts:* Mr. Tae-Ung Baik (Chair), Mr. Henrikas Mickevičius, (Vice Chair), Ms. Aua Balde, Mr. Bernard Duhaime and Mr. Luciano Hazan, Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; Mr. Nils Melzer****, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;Mr. Morris Tidball-Binz****, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions*; ***Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression*; **Clément Nyaletsossi Voule*** Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the *Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.*

For more information and media requests , please contact Ms. Yayé Ba (yba@ohchr.org/+41 22 917 99 32)

For media enquiries regarding other UN independent experts, please contact Renato de Souza ( +41 22 928 9855 / *rrosariodesouza@ohchr.org), Jeremy Laurence (+ 41 22 917 7578 /* jlaurence@ohchr.org) and Kitty McKinsey (kmckinsey@ohchr.org)

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter@UN_SPExperts.

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