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Archive for the tag “Intimidate”

Ruto and Sang case: Statement, ICC spokesperson, 5 April 2016 (Youtube-Clip)

“Today, 5 April 2016, Trial Chamber V(A) of the International Criminal Court decided, by majority, Judge Herrera Carbuccia dissenting, that the case against William Samoei Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang is to be terminated. According to the majority, this decision does not preclude new prosecution in the future either at the ICC or in a national jurisdiction. This decision may be subject to appeal.
The Chamber considered the requests of Mr Ruto and Mr Sang that the Chamber find that there is ‘no case to answer’, dismiss the charges against both accused and enter a judgment of acquittal. The Chamber also considered the opposing submissions of the Prosecutor and the Legal Representative of the Victims, and received further submissions during hearings held from 12 to 15 January 2016.
On the basis of the evidence and arguments submitted to the Chamber, Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji and Judge Robert Fremr, as the majority, agreed that the charges are to be vacated and the accused are to be discharged. They provided separate reasons for this decision.
Judge Fremr found that there is no case for the accused to answer based on an assessment of the Prosecution’s evidence in accordance he considered that the Prosecution did not present sufficient evidence on which a reasonable Trial Chamber could convict the accused. Accordingly, he considered that there is no reason to call the Defence to bring their case or to prolong the proceedings any further.
Judge Eboe-Osuji, concurring with Judge Fremr’s evidential assessment, also vacated the charges and discharged the accused without prejudice to re-prosecution in the future, However, he declared a mistrial in the case, because it cannot be discounted that the weaknesses in the Prosecution case might be explained by the demonstrated incidence of tainting of the trial process by way of witness interference and political meddling that was reasonably likely to intimidate witnesses.
The majority of the Chamber, having concluded that the Prosecution did not present sufficient evidence on which a reasonable Trial Chamber could convict the accused, also concluded that a judgment of acquittal was not the right outcome, but only vacation of the charges and discharge of the accused. The majority also agreed that there is no reason to re-characterise the charges.
Judge Herrera Carbuccia appended a dissenting opinion. In her view, the charges against both accused should not be vacated in the present case. In her view, the Prosecution’s case had not ‘broken down’ and she concluded that there is sufficient evidence upon which, if accepted, a reasonable Trial Chamber could convict the accused.
Over the course of 157 trial days, the Trial Chamber heard the testimony of 30 witnesses for the Prosecution, including two expert witnesses. During that time, the Chamber admitted into evidence 335 exhibits for the Prosecution, 226 exhibits for the Ruto Defence, and 82 exhibits for the Sang Defence. The Prosecution closed its case on 10 September 2015. At the close of the Prosecution’s case, the evidentiary record contained 92 photographs, 27 maps, 77 items of audio/visual material, and over 8,000 pages worth of documentary evidence. Throughout the trial proceedings, the Trial Chamber rendered over 400 written and oral decisions” (IntlCriminalCourt, 2016)

Press release from Uganda diaspora P10 – The arrest of Dr. Kizza Besigye and other opposition leaders (22.02.2016)

Kizza Besigye 23.02.2016

Uganda Diaspora, friends and Development partners join to strongly condemn the cowardly acts of arresting opposition party leaders, intimidation of the opposition voters, use of force and violence against innocent civilians.

For the last 5 days in a row, the morning of 22nd February 2016, we witnessed the arbitrary arrest of the opposition leader Dr. Kiiza Besigye, Secretary for mobilization of FDC party Ingrid Turinawe and a host of staffs at the FDC party headquarters.

The Uganda Diaspora P10 an international communication arm of the FDC Party is deeply concerned by the continued persecution, arbitrary arrest and detention without trial of opposition leaders and our supporters by the dictatorial regime in Uganda. This raises serious concerns about restrictions on the freedom of expression and assembly in Uganda.

Jinja Road 15.02.2015 P2

Uganda has degenerated into a police state with a heavily militarized police force. The police have been used to vent violence and abuse the fundamental rights and freedoms of Ugandan citizens especially the opposition.

The Opposition and citizens of Uganda have a right to express their dissatisfaction with the outcome of the February 18, 2016 election through peaceful assembly. The right to assembly and freedom of express are universal right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Uganda is a party.

We condemn in the strongest terms possible state inspired violence and the show of force on February 22, 2016 in arresting opposition leaders, DC members of staffs and hundreds of our party supporters.

Opposition parties that peacefully voice criticism of the government play a vital role in inclusive, pluralistic societies.

We are engaging all forms of justice from, local, regional and international courts to ensure that the elements of the Uganda police, military and government involved in the abuse of the fundamental rights and freedoms are brought to justice.

DEMANDS

1. We demand Government of Uganda to protect the universal rights of freedom of expression and assembly.

2. We demand the immediate release without and delay or conditions of all persons arrested without due process.

3. We demand the immediate cessation of state violence against the people of Uganda.

4. We demand that the government elements desist from any intimidation, fear mongering and arbitrary actions against the people of Uganda.

5. We are collecting and analyzing all evidence of these violations which we shall present it the appropriate fora at the appropriate time.

We shall not relent in our fight for a free and fair election in Uganda. We will seek justice in all forms at all levels collectively and as individuals against institutions, individuals and the state for violation of fundament rights and freedoms of the people of Uganda.

Chairperson Uganda diaspora P10
MS JACKIE OLOYA.

Release of AUEOM Preliminary Findings of the 18th February 2016 General Elections in the Republic of Uganda (20.02.2016)

NTV 20.02.2016

Kampala, 20 February 2016

“The AUEOM notes that the elections in Uganda were largely peaceful, but not without shortcomings.”

The African Union Commission deployed a Short Term Election Observation Mission to the 18 February 2016 General Elections in the Republic of Uganda. The Mission comprised 40 Short Term Observers from several African countries drawn from the African Union Permanent Representatives’ Committee, the Pan-African Parliament, Election Management Bodies and Civil Society Organizations.
The AUEOM assessed the General Elections in Uganda based on the relevant African Union instruments, namely; the 2007 African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance; the 2002 OAU/AU Declaration on Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa; the 2002 AU Guidelines for Elections Observation and Monitoring Missions; and the legal framework governing the conduct of elections in Uganda. This statement presents the Mission’s preliminary findings covering pre-voting, voting, counting and tallying processes up to 18 February 2016. The African Union will, however, continue to observe the post-electoral developments and release a final report within the next three months.

Pre-election environment
The AUEOM noted that the legal framework for elections in Uganda provides for, and guarantees the holding of regular elections in conformity with regional and international frameworks. This framework comprises the 1995 Constitution of Uganda, the Electoral Commission Amendment Act 2015; the Presidential Elections Amendment Act 2015; the Parliamentary Elections Amendment Act 2015; and the Political Parties and Organisations Act 2005.
The AUEOM observed that there is no legal framework for regulating political party campaign financing. The Mission noted that the law expressly prohibits the use of Government resources for campaigning by all candidates and parties, except for the President, as stated in Article 27.1 of the Presidential Elections Act. Stakeholders reported that there has been unprecedented increase in campaign spending.
The AUEOM learned that in 2015 Uganda introduced a National Identity Card System, which required the conduct of a mass biometric registration of citizens aged 16 years and above. The EC extracted information of all registered citizens who were 18 years and above to compile a National Voters’ Register. The AUEOM noted that at the end of the National Voter Registration exercise, there were 15, 277,198 registered voters. This Voters’ Register was continuously updated until 11 May 2015 when the process was concluded in line with the electoral calendar.

The AUEOM noted that, whereas the use of data from the National Register ensured that all citizens from 18 years by the end of the mass registration exercise were registered; interlocutors expressed concern that the 11 May 2015 deadline for updating the Voters Roll left many potential voters who turned 18 years after that date, disenfranchised. The EC collaborated with civil society organizations (CSOs) in conducting voter education. However, the accredited CSOs raised concerns that their efforts were constrained by late provision of materials by the EC. In addition, voter education was generally perceived to be inadequate.

NTV Uganda Presidential Debate 2016

The AUEOM noted that for the first time, two presidential debates were held in Kampala and broadcasted live on television and radio. All 8 presidential candidates were invited to reach out to voters using this platform.

The AUEOM observed that despite the unprecedented political and electoral competition, campaigns were generally conducted within the legal framework. However, the Mission noted the 15 February 2016 incident in Kampala, which led to the arrest of an opposition leader, causing anxiety among opposition supporters. The police informed the Mission that the arrested leader and his party had defied the prescribed campaign route.

VPN 18.02.2016 P2

The Mission noted that women were nominated to run as party and independent candidates in various constituencies and that there was one female Presidential candidate. In addition, women contested for the 112 parliamentary seats specially created for them. The Mission noted the participation of youth in the elections both as candidates and in the campaigns. However, there were concerns raised by some stakeholders of the youth being used by political parties to intimidate and disrupt election campaign rallies of their opponents. The AUEOM noted that besides involvement in voter education initiatives CSOs were involved in domestic observation. Thousands of domestic observers were deployed throughout the country, especially in areas considered as hotspots. The AUEOM noted that in compliance with the legal provisions, the media covered political parties and candidates’ manifestos and campaigns. However, stakeholders felt that the state media provided more coverage to the incumbent president and his party, at the expense of the opposition. It was further reported that private media provided a fairly balanced reporting on all parties and candidates. Besides the mainstream print and electronic media, campaigning was carried out on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp. The AUEOM noted general concerns following the shutdown of social media platforms, by the Uganda Communication Commission from Election Day citing security concerns. The AUEOM noted that there was a generally calm and peaceful pre-election environment with no major security incidents reported.

The AUEOM noted concerns raised by interlocutors with regard to the recruitment, training and deployment of community policing units called Crime Preventers, which they alleged were misused to intimidate opposition parties. The AUEOM was however informed by the police that these were purely crime prevention units at community level with no arresting powers.

The AUEOM noted the lack of trust in security agencies by some opposition parties, which were reported to have created counter units.

Election Day

On Election Day, the teams visited 148 polling stations comprising 60% urban and 40% rural where they observed opening, voting, closing and counting processes. The observers used tablets to capture and transmit real-time observation data to the Mission Command Centre. The AUEOM teams observed opening procedures countrywide and noted that the environment outside these centers was peaceful.
Delays in opening time by up to 4 hours were reported in a number of polling stations. The delays were attributed to late distribution of polling materials. Consequently, opening procedures pertaining to sealing of ballot boxes, identification and verification of voters were not fully adhered to in some cases.
As per the laid down procedure, voters were asked for identification and their names checked against the register before voting. Only a few were turned away because they did not have the required identification, were not on the voters’ register, were at the wrong polling station or were rejected by the Biometric Voter Verification Kit.
With regards to the Biometric Voter Verification Kits, which were introduced for the first time, the AUEOM observed that in some polling stations, the kits worked well, hence hastening the verification process; while in some stations, they were not used because they were either not working, or the election personnel did not have access pass codes.
As an additional identification and voting facilitation measure, voter identification slips were used to direct voters to the right voting station within a voting center. Voter processing times were reasonable and mostly ranged from no more than 3 minutes in 54% of the polling stations and between 3-6 minutes in 39% of the polling station stations observed.
The AUEOM observer teams observed closing procedures at 4:00pm and beyond in areas where polling was extended because of late opening.
Closing and counting procedures were not strictly adhered to in all polling stations visited. For example, there were instances where polling officials and agents did not reconcile the number of registered voters with the number of people who actually voted. In a majority of polling stations observed, party/ candidate agents were furnished with a copy of the results form by the presiding officer.

Kaabong 18.02.2016

Conclusion

The AUEOM congratulates the people of Uganda for turning up in large numbers to perform their civic duty.

While we note that the election process is ongoing, the AUEOM’s overall assessment of the 2016 General Elections thus far, is that they were largely peaceful, but not without shortcomings; in particular, the late delivery of election materials. The late delivery led to more than 4 hours of delays in the opening of polling stations. The Mission wishes to underscore that this impacted on the overall conduct of polling day operations, and caused anxiety and tension among the voters and polling officials, which could have been avoided.

Based on its preliminary findings, the AUEOM makes the following recommendations: The AUEOM encourages the Electoral Commission to:
• Adhere to the prescribed 48 hour time frame for delivery of materials as provided in the Electoral Act, when distributing election materials to polling stations;
• Conduct continuous voter education and voter registration;
• Strengthen training for polling personnel to avoid inconsistencies in implementation of polling procedures;
• Consider using indoor polling in order to create order around the stations and to protect polling officials, voters and materials from weather elements; and • Consider adopting voting booths that ensure the secrecy of the ballot.

The AUEOM recommends that the Government provide adequate resources to the Electoral Commission to conduct continuous voter registration and voter education and enable timely procurement of election materials.

To Parliament, the AUEOM recommends that it:
• Develops legislation to regulate political party and campaign finance; and
• Concludes electoral reforms at least a year before elections to allow for timely preparation and implementation.

The AUEOM encourages the public broadcaster to provide equitable coverage to all candidates.

The AUEOM recommends that Political Parties avoid the usage of inflammatory language during campaigns and inciting supporters.

Lastly, the AUEOM recommends that the Police enforce the law equally on all parties and candidates, and desist from heavy handedness when dealing with the public, political parties and candidates.

The AUEOM will continue to observe the tallying and other post-election developments and issue a comprehensive report three months after the announcement of the election results.

Her Ladyship Justice Sophia Akuffo
Head of the African Union Election Observer Mission

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