Towards a Human Rights Culture in Uganda
The government of President Museveni has taken important steps towards establishing a human rights culture in Uganda, and marked a clear break with the abusive dictatorships which preceeded it. The widespread atrocities committed during the time of Idi Amin and Obote represent a traumatic past which Uganda wishes to avoid repeating, and some of the institutional reforms put into place by the NRM administration have indeed fostered a more accountable and representative government. Some newly created institutions, such as the Uganda Human Rights Commission, have played an important role in fostering a viable human rights culture in Uganda. The general human rights climate in Uganda has improved significantly because of these institutional changes introduced by the NRM administration.
The general improvement in the human rights record of Uganda, however, has been cited to distract attention from Uganda's record on freedoms with a political content, such as the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly. According to Justice Odoki, "I think that there is a great improvement in the general human rights situation in Uganda. You no longer see restrictions on basic freedoms and a state of anarchy in this country. But we underplay political freedoms in light of these advances."82
Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations
In May 1986, soon after coming to power, the NRM established a commission of inquiry into human rights violations, charged with investigating the human rights record of all governments since independence until the seizure of power by the NRM. Although the commission's work was often hampered by a lack of funding and limitations in its mandate, it held extensive hearings throughout Uganda and significantly raised the level of rights awareness within the general population. Despite serious financial problems, the commission ultimately produced a final report of about 700 pages, in addition to a fifteen-volume verbatem record and a summary booklet for popular dissemination. The commission's report provided an analysis of the extent and causes of Uganda's past human rights woes, and offered detailed recommendations to the government about how to build a human rights culture. Among its chief recommendations were the appropriate punishmentof human rights violators, the inclusion of human rights education in the general curriculum and in the training of the army and security forces, and the establishment of a permanent human rights commission.83
Uganda Human Rights Commission (HRC)
The proposal for a permanent human rights commission was amplified by the Odoki Constitutional Commission, which recommended the establishment of such a body in its final report, defining the proposed functions and powers in significant detail.84 These proposals were ultimately adopted in the 1995 constitution,85 and implemented through the Uganda Human Rights Commission Act of 1997.86 The HRC started functioning in November 1996, when its chairperson Margaret Sekaggya and seven members were appointed by President Museveni.
The HRC has used its broad mandate and powers to become an effective and respected leader on human rights issues. Its commissioners have investigated a wide variety of human rights abuses, and have not shied away from issuing strongly worded condemnations of abusive practices by government officials, including the security forces.
The commission has undertaken detailed investigations into prison conditions throughout the country, visiting at least eighteen police stations and twenty-four local and central prisons and conducting workshops to improve prison conditions in Uganda. In June 1998, the human rights commission criticized a spate of arrests of about eighty Moslems, branding the conduct of the police and security agencies as illegal and demanding the immediate release of the detainees. A statement by the commission was unambigious: "The commission wishes to point out that whereas it does not condone criminal activities, the practise of detaining suspects in ungazetted places is unconstitutional and cannot in any way be legally justified under our law."87 Similar strong statements were issued in regard to other human rights problems identified by the commission. In November 1998, it conducted its first public hearings into individual complaints, looking into allegations of humanrights abuses against senior police officers, UPDF members, and in one case a government minister.
The human rights commission's first annual report, on its 1997 work, was released in July 1998. The detailed seventy-page report discusses a wide variety of human rights violations, and does not shy away from identifying government culprits, including security officials. The HRC assisted Human Rights Watch in some of its investigations, providing information upon request. Ugandan NGOs in general were supportive of the HRC, although some activists told Human Rights Watch that they were concerned about a government body monopolizing the human rights field, and wished that the HRC would define a more limited mandate. The work of the HRC continues to be stymied by a lack of adequate funding and, on many occasions, uncooperative government officials; the recommendations of the HRC are often ignored by government officials. Nonetheless, the HRC has shown a positive commitment to the full implementation of its mandate, and is likely to play an important role in improving Uganda's human rights record in the future.
Unfortunately, the commission has not directly addressed the issue of the movement system and violations of civil and political rights in Uganda to any significant degree, and has not issued any statements on these abuses. When Human Rights Watch discussed this issue with commissioners, it was clear that there was some division within the HRC on the issue of such violations, and that the majority of the commissioners prefered to remain silent on the issue. In early 1999, the Free Movement presented a petition to the HRC asking it to hold hearings into violations of civil and political rights associated with the movement system. Increasing public pressure could lead the HRC to take a closer look at such abuses.
The HRC is not the only body responsible for addressing human rights abuses in Uganda. The inspector general of government (IGG), the director for public prosecutions, and the Ugandan judiciary also contribute in obvious ways to the efforts to build a human rights culture in Uganda. In addition, the government has established human rights desks within the office of the president, the UPDF, and other bodies.
The Role of Parliament
The present Ugandan parliament was elected in 1996 under the "movement" system, which barred political parties from fielding and supporting candidates. Despite the severe restrictions placed on members of political parties, some opposition politicians decided to contest the elections in their personal capacity and were succesfully elected. The parliament thus includes a significant number ofopposition politicians closely associated with political parties. Groups such as the Acholi parliamentary group, representing parliamentarians from Gulu and Kitgum districts, are examples of organized groups within parliament often at odds with government policies. The ability of such critical politicians to be elected and to then form groups to operate in parliament demonstrates that the government is willing to tolerate some organized opposition to controversial government policies.
The Ugandan parliament has become a vocal and progressive institution, and its actions in criticizing government corruption and abuse of office suggest a significant amount of independence from the executive branch. The parliament has been especially vocal in its investigation of official government corruption, its hearings leading to the resignations of two government ministers as well as Major General Salim Saleh, brother of President Museveni and formerly "overseer" of the UPDF. However, a majority of pro-movement parliamentarians has meant that reforming or ending the movement system are effectively out of reach of parliament.
The Decentralization Process
Under prior governments, civilians played only a minor role in politics, as politics was dominated by a small elite segment. In accordance with the 1995 constitution, Uganda has embarked on an ambitious program of government decentralization which aims to increase the role civilians play at all levels of government. In the process of decentralization, local governments are assuming some control over local taxation and development funds, an important mechanism of empowerment. The 1997 Local Government Act, which refines the five-level council system originally established (as "Resistance Councils") when the NRM came to power, is the centerpiece of this ongoing process of decentralization.88 Human Rights Watch was present during local elections (conducted under the "movement" system") in Kampala and Kasese during April 1998, and the level of local participation in these elections was impressive. The council system allows significant civilian participation in the conduct of local government, although the impact of these local structures on national executive policies appears rather minimal. Despite their importance to local participation, these structures of local government do not present a counterweight to the continued dominance of the Ugandan executive in setting policy.
One of the important impacts of the political reforms implemented by the NRM administration has been the empowerment of women, a traditionally marginalized sector of society, at all levels of government. The administration has put into action strong affirmative action programs which aim to raise the level of participation of women in government, and women are represented in significant numbers at both the local and national level. Private initiatives such as those carried out by the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) undertake programs to prepare women to aspire for political leadership. President Museveni has shown a strong commitment to the empowerment of women in Uganda, often appointing women to important positions of leadership such as the position of vice president and chairperson of the human rights commission. Some women leaders interviewed by Human Rights Watch, however, expressed concern that President Museveni expected women leaders to be loyal to the "movement" system in return for the empowerment measures undertaken by the government.
Museveni's Theory of the No-Party State
The political restrictions in place in Uganda are based on the position, advocated by President Museveni and his National Resistance Movement, that Uganda's past political problems were mainly due to the ravages caused by divisive "sectarian politics." To remedy this, Museveni and the NRM advocate a "movement" or "no-party" political system in Uganda.
Museveni posits the "movement" or "no-party" system of government as an alternative to a multiparty system, and the necessary antidote to the perceived poisonous sectarianism of the political parties in Uganda. Instead of political parties which were viewed as divisive, Museveni introduced the idea of a "no-party" system, one supposedly all-inclusive movement in which individual candidates would run for elections based on their personal merit. A pyramid of five levels of councils, from the village to the national level, is designed to ensure grassroots participation at all levels of society. The Odoki Constitutional Commission attempted to define the movement system as follows:
The movement political system is a unique initiative introduced in Uganda by the NRM administration since January 1986. It is based on democratically elected resistance councils from the village level to the National Resistance Council (Parliament). It is founded on participatory democracy which enables every person to participate in his or her own governance at all levels of government. ... It is all-embracing in its approach and vision. It has no manifesto of its own, apart from the commonly agreed upon programme. It does not recruit members, sinceall people in Uganda are presumed to be members of the village resistance councils. At all times it aims to give expression to the people's sovereignty. During elections people vote for candidates based on their own merit and not on the basis of their party affiliation.89
Museveni has also argued that it is the movement system which is responsible for the achievements of his government: "It amuses me that we are complimented for the sustained economic growth which we have achieved in these last 12 years, for the way we have generally turned the country around from the mess we found it in. But at the same time our friends who pay us those compliments don't seem to realize that it is the political system which we established that has contributed to the advances made in the socioeconomic field. The two cannot really be divorced."90
The movement system has continued to evolve in often contradictory directions, and President Museveni has never clearly defined the movement system other than in terms of the dangers of "sectarianism" which it aims to prevent. The constant refrain during Museveni's 1996 presidential campaign was that a vote for his opponents would cause a return to the past, that former dictator Milton Obote was waiting in Zambia to return to power if Museveni was defeated. One of Museveni's presidential election posters featured a picture of skulls and bones beside a mass grave in Luwero, with the caption: "Don't forget the past. Over one million Ugandans, our brothers, sisters, family and friends, lost their lives. YOUR VOTE COULD BRING IT BACK"; another campaign advertisement stated bluntly, "A vote for Ssemogerere is a vote for Obote."91
According to President Museveni, most societies in sub-Saharan Africa are still in a pre-industrial stage, and have not yet developed the "economic class differentiation" which he argues forms the basis for the diverse political parties found in industrial nations.92 Similarly, Museveni's and the NRM's views on the political maturity of the peasants who form the majority of the population are unflattering: Minister of State for Political Affairs Mbabazi told Human RightsWatch that "a peasant's conception of Uganda does not go beyond his village,"93 echoing Museveni's view that "the hill is the outer limit of [a peasant's] horizon."94 Using a pseudo-Marxist model, Museveni argues that because people in peasant societies lack a class identity, they are prone to ethnic and religious polarization, easily exploited by politicians who are "messengers of perpetual backwardness":
Societies at this stage of development tend to have vertical polarisations based mainly on tribe and ethnicity.... This means that people support someone who belongs to their group, not because he puts forward the right policies. That delays the process of discovery of the truth and by the time the people wake up to the situation, many things have gone wrong or have passed us by.95
Such broad generalizations about the political consciousness of Ugandans ignore the fact that many Ugandans have looked beyond their own ethnic affiliations in recent elections. During the 1996 presidential elections, Paul Ssemogerere, the Baganda leader of the Democratic Party, found his most substantial support not in his home region but in northern Uganda, in large part because many northerners identified with his commitment to bring peace to the region.
Museveni and the NRM present political parties as the primary culprits for Uganda's past turmoil, and as a danger to Uganda's future peace and stability. These are typical comments made by President Museveni during the twelfth anniversary celebrations of the NRA's military victory:
The political parties we had in Uganda, and the ones we still have-I hear them still saying they are organizing-are definitely organized along those lines, lines of tribes, lines of religion.... Well, we had elections recently in one of the East African countries [Kenya], and we should look at the results to see what multipartyism means in some of these situations.... In order to minimize the primordial political faultlines, which almost succeeded in destroying this country, we thought of another way to organize politics in our country.96
The view of the NRM that political parties were largely responsible for Uganda's post-independence woes finds strong resonance in the Ugandan population. Ugandans suffered greatly under the abusive governments of Idi Amin and Milton Obote, and the wish to avoid a return to such a period of abuse is almost universal. In the past, the leadership of some political parties such as the UPC have at times undermined democracy, quickly outlawing all other political parties after they gained power and triggering destructive civil wars around competition for political dominance. But while the fear of a return to the turmoil of the past is a legitimate concern for many Ugandans, it is also used by the current Ugandan government to justify present restrictions. Father Larry Kanyike, chaplain at Kampala's Makerere University, said that the current Ugandan government evoked the abusive regimes of Idi Amin and Milton Obote to validate itself: "Our leaders have taken advantage of this situation and, instead of giving the people what is rightfully theirs, they use the fears of the past as the determinant to promote legitimacy."97
The idea that political parties are "sectarian" is in many ways a self-fulfilling prophecy under the NRM's movement system. "Sectarianism" has become a broad concept encompassing any kind of activity perceived as divisive of national unity. Since the NRM defines itself as a movement which encompasses the whole nation-and to which all Ugandans are compelled to belong-it is difficult to escape the label of sectarianism when engaging in any political activity opposed to the NRM.
It is unclear whether the "no-party system" has had a diminishing effect on lowering the regional and ethnic divisions in Uganda. Most of the opposition politicians interviewed by Human Rights Watch viewed the NRM as a narrowly based political group from southwestern Uganda. The increasing marginalization of the north certainly has affected the popularity of the NRM administration in that region, as demonstrated by the low number of votes received there by Museveni during the 1996 presidential elections. Professor Nelson Kasfir among others has claimed that regional tensions have increased since 1986:
Regional splits have deepened since the NRM came to power. Most of the top leadership of the NRM comes from the west, particularly from the former political unit of Ankole. Devastating civil wars have been fought in parts of the east and the north. The perception of the NRM as a `southern' government, and the wars it has fought against the remnants of the armies of its former enemies, have reinforced regional cleavages.98
Despite his unconditional support for the movement system, President Museveni has on occasion suggested that the movement system may ultimately be a transitional system: "what is crucial for Uganda now is for us to have a system that ensures democratic participation until such time as we get, through economic development, especially industrialization, the crystallization of socio-economic groups upon which we can then base healthy political parties."99 As pointed out by the scholar Nelson Kasfir, the characterization of the movement system as transitional, pending sufficient economic development before a return to multiparty politics, can easily serve as a justification for the indefinite political domination by the movement system. Kasfir rightly asks:
Museveni has not offered even a rough idea of when this day will arrive. How long will it take for Uganda's peasants to become members of the working or middle class? Is the NRM saying that it must remain theguardian of no-party democracy until that happens? What seems disturbingly clear is that the NRM has abandoned any ground on which it could lay plausible claim to democratic legitimation, and now seeks to justify its rule on the basis of a highly suspect theory of modernization.100
The actions of NRM leaders do not suggest that the movement system is seriously contemplating a transition to a multiparty system. Instead, the NRM continues to move towards an increased institutional entrenchment of the movement system and its own leaders' predominance.
The Constitutional Restrictions on Political Rights
Article 269 of the 1995 constitution entrenched a number of restrictions on political activity which remain in force. It is envisioned in the constitution that these restrictions ultimately will be fully implemented by a law regulating political activity in Uganda. A draft political organizations bill, discussed below, is currently under consideration in parliament. Although article 269 of the constitution allows political parties to exist in name, their activities are almost completely curtailed. Article 269 prohibits their:
(a) opening and operating branch offices;
(b) holding delegates' conferences;
(c) holding public rallies;
(d) sponsoring or offering a platform to or in any way campaigning for or against a candidate for any public election;
(e) carrying on any activities that may interfere with the movement political system for the time being in force.101
The passage of article 269 in June 1995 led to a walk out from the constituent assembly by most advocates of pluralism, popularly known as "multipartyists."102 DP leader Paul Ssemogerere explained to Human Rights Watch that he participated in the walk-out because he felt that article 269 finally exposed the real motives of the Museveni government:
We walked out of the constituent assembly over article 269. It was clear progressively that the true colors of Museveni came out: he would not compromise on the movement and marketed the movement as a political system when it really is a one party rule. You build a party which is identical to the state and use state resources, councils and the administration to perpetuate it. You bring in the security bodies and ensure they are behind you.103
Major General Tinyefuza and Lieutenant Colonel Lwanga, two outspoken NRA delegates who advocated a return to a more pluralistic society at the constituent assembly, again showed their disagreement with the movement stance by publicly abstaining from voting on article 269.
The drafters of article 269 argue that it is based on the desires of the population, which they claim was consulted during the constitution drafting process. Justice Kanyeihamba, presidential advisor on international and human rights affairs from 1992 until 1997, and a member of the constituent assembly, justified the restrictions in Article 269 to Human Rights Watch in these terms:
The 269 restrictions are in the constitution and were discussed at the constituent assembly. The general feeling was that if we would have had a referendum then, the people of Uganda would have wanted the parties banned for ten years or more. The population felt very strongly that multipartyism should never return to Uganda. I want you to rememberthat it was against this background that the provisions of the constitution were inserted. We reflected the wishes of the people as delegates at the constituent assembly.104
The opposition politicians and advocates for pluralism interviewed by Human Rights Watch viewed the restrictions contained in article 269 as effectively curtailing political opposition in Uganda. Dr. James Rwanyarare, chairperson of the presidential policy commission of the UPC, told Human Rights Watch: "We are in political exile within Uganda. We cannot hold meetings or do anything which may interfere with the NRM. We can have a national office and issue statements but we are not allowed to step out of this office and participate in the politics of the country."105 Norbert Mao, an outspoken member of parliament from northern Uganda, described article 269 as a "time bomb," a danger to the future stability of Uganda: "We have some time bombs in our constitution, this article 269 which turns political parties into scarecrows. The President says parties are not banned but they can't compete for power, so what are parties for?"106 According to Aggrey Awori, an MP from Busia, the restrictions of article 269 create a political climate similar to that of a one-party state: "Article 269 of the constitution restricts political parties. As a result, the NRM has entrenched itself to the total disadvantage of other political activists. Multipartyists do not have the opportunity or resources to campaign in the same way as movementists."107
The Movement Act: A State-Sponsored Political Party in Disguise
The Local Council System
During its guerrilla campaign against the second Obote government, the NRA/M established resistance councils (RC) in the villages under its control, as well as some similar but clandestine structures in contested areas. These structures were loosely based on the neighborhood committees organized in the "liberatedzones" of Mozambique by the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) in the late 1960s.108 Although originally designed as support structures for the NRA fighters, the resistance councils grew into a model for what was viewed as "popular democracy." When the NRA/M came into power in 1986, it sought to spread the institution nation-wide as the basis for its administration.
The resistance councils-renamed local councils in 1997-start at the village level (LC1), and progress through the parish (LC2) to the sub-county (LC3), county (LC4), and district (LC5). During the early period of NRM rule, the national government's legislative branch was the un-elected National Resistance Council (NRC), which was replaced in 1996 by a largely directly elected parliament in which a number of nonelected seats were reserved for the army and other government sectors and interest groups which tend to be NRM-aligned. Originally, elections to the LC1 council involved villagers publicly lining up behind candidates, a practice which has now been abandoned in favor of a secret ballot.
The degree of participatory democracy the local councils provided at the grassroots levels contrasted sharply with the lack of such popular participation at the national level. Mahmood Mamdani, the former chairperson of a government commission appointed by the NRM in 1987 to study local government in Uganda, concludes that "the NRM was unable to link its participatory reform at the village level with a representative reform at higher levels.... The RC system increasingly came to reflect two tiers: one local, the other central; one on the ground, the other at the apex. The higher one went up the RC pyramid, the more watered down was the democratic content of the system."109
According to a number of persons interviewed by Human Rights Watch, some of the local council structures serve as partisan NRM bodies during election times and target multipartyists and their supporters for abuse during these periods. Wycliffe Birungi, the chairperson of the human rights committee of the Uganda Law Society, told Human Rights Watch that local councils often mobilized in support of NRM candidates: "Local councils have been used as an organ for purposes of campaigning for politicians, especially for the local MPs and district counsellors belonging to the movement system. The local councils tell the peoplethat they want a movement person, and that so and so is a movement person. They can very much influence the success of a candidate."110
The National Organization for Civic Education and Elections Monitoring (NOCEM) also complained about the partisan role of local council officials in the 1996 presidential and parliamentary elections.111 The International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) found that the local council system was used to mobilize pro-movement support in the 1996 elections:
[W]hile the LCs and special interest groups are holdovers from an earlier era, they remain extremely useful electoral resources to the Movement because of its control over them. The Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) play an important role in many districts, controlling the electoral colleges representing these special interest groups as well as administering the political mobilizers in each district and the party schools. The RDCs played a partisan role in these elections, as the Interim Electoral Commission recognized in a press release warning them not to support particular parliamentary candidates. The earlier [LC] structures may not carry the same degree of ideological belief as they attracted in 1986, but they provided organizational advantages and a convenient rationale for denying similar resources to multipartyists who oppose the movement.112
Discussing the presidential election campaign of 1996, IFES concluded: "If Museveni wanted, as he himself stated, to win a `fair fight,' many of his local supporters, particularly within the government structure, seem to have directly counteracted his intentions."113 Paul Ssemogerere, Museveni's main challenger in the 1996 presidential elections, complained to Human Rights Watch about a biased campaign system favoring Museveni:
The law was against us because we were not allowed to campaign as an organization, but Museveni was using the government machinery tocampaign. The RDCs and LC structures were expected to campaign. Those who did not support Museveni were seen as disloyal and some were thrown out of their positions in the LC councils.114
President Museveni, the incumbent in the 1996 presidential elections, regularly used his government position to circumvent the campaign rules put in place for the presidential elections. In one of the more egregious examples of such circumvention of campaign rules, Museveni gave a live radio broadcast after the official campaigning period had ended, warning that Uganda would revert to its former state of anarchy if the population did not vote for him.115
Dr. Rwanyarare, chairperson of the pro-Obote presidential policy commission of the UPC, told Human Rights Watch that the local council members at the village level often targeted UPC supporters: "The LC officers are the worst because they operate on a village level. There are cases where people have been expelled from villages, so most will not criticize the government because they fear expulsion. The villagers know that the parties cannot come to their aid, so they comply with the LC officers who are executive, legislature and judiciary all in one. The LC is a very powerful weapon which you cannot appeal against."116
The local council structures were granted some judicial powers in 1987.117 In many districts paramilitary local defense units (LDUs) continue to operate extralegally, although there is no law providing for their existence. Both the local council's judicial powers and the local defense units' military powers are frequently abused, at times against political opponents of the movement system. According to Wycliffe Birungi, chairperson of the human rights committee of the Uganda Law Society, local council courts often abuse their powers by handing out sentences which are beyond their powers, such as corporal punishment and banishment from the village, and by taking on cases which are beyond their jurisdiction, such as rape or defilement (statutory rape) cases.118 Justice Odoki,chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission, shared this assessment of the local council courts, stating that they have illegally imposed caning, tried capital cases, and that they lack impartiality.119
According to some opposition politicians, the local defense units add a measure of paramilitary coercion in some districts during elections. Patrick Mwonda, a UPC activist, claimed that the LDUs in his district had been mobilized the night before the 1996 parliamentary elections to intimidate his supporters. According to Mwonda,
In my own district, the LDUs were mobilized on the Wednesday before voting on Thursday, and the LDUs patrolled every village throughout the night of Wednesday. They would go to villages and tell everyone to get out of their homes. They would tell them to sit and surround them with guns, and then they would ask them who they would vote for tomorrow. They would pick out my activists and cane them in front of the population.120
During a 1996 campaign meeting of presidential contender Paul Ssemogerere in Mbale, LDU members reportedly fired their rifles in the air in an apparent effort to disperse his supporters.121
The Movement Structures
The Movement Act of 1997 creates a second set of structures, essentially duplicating the structures of the local councils (previously known as resistance councils). Like the local councils, the movement structures exist at the village, parish, sub-county, division, and district levels, in addition to the National Movement Conference and its permanent secretariat.122 The national conference is the highest movement organ, and consists of a national chair and vice-chair, apolitical commissar, all members of parliament, the chairpersons of all division, municipal, town or subcounty movement committees, all resident district commissioners, as well as representatives from women, youth, trade, army, police, prison, business, and veterans.123
For members of parliament, membership in the National Conference is mandatory, as is membership of all Ugandans in their village movement council.124 The compulsory nature of membership in the movement was emphasized by Minister of State for Political Affairs Amama Mbabazi, who told Human Rights Watch: "According to our constitution, the political system we have is the movement system, so that means that everyone belongs to the movement. [Democratic Party President Paul] Ssemogerere belongs to the movement by law, he has no choice."125
The purpose of the movement act is unclear from the legislation itself, especially in light of the fact that the movement act virtually duplicates the entire pyramidical structure of local government created by the Local Government Act of 1997. The local councils have some executive, legislative and judicial powers in terms of the current legislation.126 The local councils are supposed to, among other duties, serve as communication channels between the population and the central government, help in the maintenance of law and order, recruit for the UPDF and security forces, and initiate self-help projects.127 Each village council (LC1) has a secretary for information, mobilization, and education, as well as a secretary for security and a chairperson who is the political head of the village.128 In addition to the local council structures, each district is headed by a resident district commissioner (RDC), who serves as the district representative of central government, and whose duties include sensitizing the local populace to national government policies and programs, as well as overseeing the operation of the local councils.129 With such a comprehensive program of representation at all levels of government, it is difficult to see the role of this second system of structures which essentially duplicates the first-except as a form of partisan party structure normally associated with one-party states.
The Movement Act in effect replicates the structures of a political organization that is a party in all but name, the National Resistance Movement, as structures of the Ugandan state, creating a state-sponsored political organization disguised as a "political system." In practice, the principal duty of the movement structures is to mobilize support for the NRM's movement government system and for a vote in favor of the retention of this system in the referendum. This role was previously played by the NRM's own national secretariat-which itself continues to function as the state-funded "Office of Political Mobilization" under the Minister of State for Political Affairs. The movement structures are directly funded by the Ugandan state, creating a state-funded political organization charged with promoting the governing system, to which all Ugandans must belong.
The NRM and its leadership continue to deny that the NRM is a political organization, preferring to describe the movement as a political system rather than a party. But the actions of the NRM and its adherents are little different from those of a political party. NRM members identify themselves as movement or NRM supporters-often making distinctions between "historicals" and newer members. The NRM has a caucus in parliament which formulates the movement position on legislation and other policies under consideration. The NRM actively campaigns for its candidates during elections, with President Museveni himself urging the electorate to vote for movement candidates in the days before the 1998 local government elections:
Let me also remind you that the national programme in place is the programme of the Movement which you supported and elected. Therefore, you need to choose those individuals who will adhere to the movement political and economic programmes which the government has put in place to advance unity, development and progress. ... You should always welcome those who profess to work for the Movement and judge them according to their merit. But they should be professed to support the Movement.130
President Museveni also stated at a press conference after the election that senior members of government should only intervene in elections to back a candidate when a multipartyist was contesting against a movement candidate, stating "that is my critical enemy, the one who talks of parties now."131 President Museveni's views are repeated by countless local government officials, army officers, parliamentarians, and others who urge the local population to vote for movement candidates. As the resident district commissioner of Kasese told Human Rights Watch, "Officially, officials like us condemn the multipartyists and people are starting to understand. The UPC was strongest in the west. This is the argument we are using: all these conflicts we see today have their roots in the multipartyist."132
In the face of a number of electoral set-backs for the NRM in the 1998 local government elections-many important positions were won by multipartyist candidates associated with political parties, including the mayorship of the capital Kampala-it appears that the NRM may move towards even more direct sponsorship of NRM candidates. In an interview with the East African, Professor Gilbert Bukenya, the chair of the movement caucus in parliament, stated that the NRM would in future screen movement candidates and would offer only one candidate to prevent dividing the vote between different movement candidates: "Multipartyist have been exploring our weakness, which has made numerous movement candidates end up dividing their votes."133 When interviewed by Human Rights Watch, Minister of State for Political Affairs Mbabazi first attempted to distinguish the movement from political parties by suggesting that only the political parties sponsor candidates. When the minister was asked to comment on the statement by Professor Bukenya that the NRM was instituting similar practices, he told Human Rights Watch:
We must sort out what to do in such cases as the recent local council elections in Kampala, where the vote can be split between different movement candidates. There is a dilemma because parties are not supposed to sponsor candidates, because we want to avoid tribal voting. When parties sit and act as parties to choose candidates, the choice wehave is to act in a unified way. What do we do? In that event, maybe we shall also organize against them. We can crack down and use the law against them or organize ourselves politically against the parties.134
Most of the advocates for pluralism interviewed by Human Rights Watch shared the view that the NRM was trying to entrench itself in power by creating structures that made the NRM synonymous with the state. Karuhanga K. Chapaa, chairperson of the National Democrats Forum, told Human Rights Watch:
The NRM is a party, trying to steal members of other parties and break down other parties. There is a failure on the part of the NRM to look for partnerships in the process of democratization. ... Now the NRM structures are state organs used to dominate society in the same way as the Communist Party. Everybody must belong to the movement. Even as a minority we should be allowed to exist. They feel they are strong, militarily superior and they know the parties don't have an army. Democracy includes readiness to accept defeat and leave power, but the NRM doesn't accept this.135
Law professor Frederick Jjuuko agreed: "We really became a one-party state because the movement is organized as any party, and it uses state resources while denying others freedom of association."136
The one factor which distinguishes the movement system from the previous generation of one-party states in Africa-including the one-party state created by President Julius Nyerere in Tanzania from which the NRM has drawn significant inspiration137-is that the movement defines itself as a political system, not apolitical party, despite having most of the characteristics of a political party.138 The reason for this semantic difference in definition is two-fold.
First, the NRM has a sophisticated world outlook, and realizes that declaring Uganda a one-party state would lead to a significant loss of international support. Declaring Uganda a one-party state would place international donors and allies such as European Union members and the United States in a difficult and embarrassing position of closely supporting a declared one-party state and could lead to a withdrawal of political or financial support by some donor nations. Instead, the NRM has managed to achieve political dominance through a careful manipulation of the political system and an occasional resort to coercive measures, while retaining their international support. This is an analysis echoed by Professor Akiiki Mujaju of Makerere University:
It is not fashionable today to talk of one-party systems, and therefore new methods of concealing them have to be found. The NRM is no different from many one-party systems with which we are familiar. It is in government, has a secretariat which is busy indoctrinating people, and has leaders, although the selection process for those leaders is not transparent.139
Second, by refusing to define itself as a political party, the NRM has been able to operate freely while denying the same freedom of operation to the opposition political parties which are strictly controlled under article 269 of the constitution. The NRM feels free to support and sponsor movement candidates, to hold public rallies, and to engage in all the activities which it refuses to allow political parties to engage in. Thus, the NRM gets the best of both worlds.
The NRM's critique of political parties in Uganda serves as its primary justification for the continued reliance on the movement system of government. Without the movement system of government, the NRM and Museveni argue, the country will once again be plunged into chaos and anarchy. However, it is difficultto see what distinguishes the NRM from the political parties it criticizes so severely, as pointed out by Ugandan academic Mahmood Mamdani:
[T]he NRM's critique of political parties falls short on one count: lacking an element of self-criticism, it tends to be self-serving. For if the parties have turned into breeding grounds for individuals who turn to politics as the quickest road to position and privilege, so is the NRM fast becoming so. If party programmes are more a public relations exercise than a policy pledge, so does the NRM's 10-point programme [which is] honoured less in practice than in the breach, more a litany for ceremonial occasions than a guide for day-to-day action. If the parties do not have an internal constitution that allows the membership to hold the leadership accountable, neither does the NRM. If the parties are mainly funded by a few wealthy individuals and institutions, local or foreign, the NRM is also fast becoming mainly a state-funded body. The sad fact is that the NRM is today fast moving on the same track that UPC and DP have covered since independence; it is on its way to becoming a state movement.140
Elections for the movement structures outlined in the 1997 Movement Act took place in July 1998. The national movement conference which selected the national movement leadership consisted of more than 1600 delegates, but the selection process ensured that most delegates were movement supporters.141 President Museveni, who has been chairperson of the NRM since its creation, was elected chairperson of the movement unopposed. Al-hajji Moses Kigongo, vice-chair of the NRM since its creation, was elected unopposed as vice-chair of themovement.142 In effect, the movement elections allowed the NRM to transform itself into a state-funded political party without diluting its hold on power. The government-owned New Vision quoted President Museveni as saying that his unopposed appointment was "a better arrangement than last time [the presidential elections] when I had to fight [opposition presidential contender] Ssemogerere."143
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the movement, chaired by Museveni and dominated by NRM adherents, then proceeded to meet in a series of closed, private sessions to select the national political commissar and directors of the movement secretariat. Museveni told the New Vision that he had selected Speaker of Parliament James Wapakhabulo as national political commissar because "Parliament has got a limited job.... We need more of our cadres to mobilize the population."144 Museveni also announced that the vice chairman of the movement, Hajji Moses Kigongo, would receive a salary equivalent to that of Uganda's vice president, that the national political commissar would receive the same salary as the speaker of parliament, and that the directors of the movement secretariat would be paid at the same rate as ministers of state.145 The NEC later announced that it adopted rules which prohibit members from disclosing any information discussed in the closed sessions, continuing a long tradition of secrecy and intrigue surrounding the functioning of NRM structures.146
Mahmood Mamdani, professor of African Studies at the University of Cape Town, commented that the movement elections were another step in the creation of a one-party state:
With these structures, [the NRM] which used to be only a secretariat in Kampala, will now be a ruling party.... We will eventually have a single party-called a movement-and a single party which will organize a referendum every five years and organize support for its legitimacy.147
The comments of the newly elected movement leadership themselves suggest that they see the movement structures as a political organization. James Wapakhabulo, the newly elected National Political Commissar, initially refused to resign his position as speaker of parliament on the grounds that the position was not a public but a political office:
The Secretariat ... is a political organ within the Movement political system. It is not part of government. Offices in the movement political system are political offices. They are not public service offices within the meaning of the Constitution.148
Members of the movement secretariat are required to closely adhere to NRM doctrine and policies. The outspoken anti-corruption crusader Winnie Byanyima, appointed director of information in the movement secretariat, was fired in February 1999 by President Museveni, acting in his capacity as chairperson of the movement. A statement by President Museveni explained the reasons for the firing:
The movement chairman [President Museveni] regretted that despite his advice to Honorable Winnie Byanyima that in her capacity as the movement director of information she should refrain from taking a position contrary to the official stand and policy of the movement, she had failed to comply.149
Chaka-mchaka: Political Education for Social Control?
One of the tools used by the NRM government to increase its political control, targeted particularly at civil servants and graduating students, is a political education and military science course called Chaka-mchaka, a term which mimics the sound made by military boots during marches. Supporters of pluralism in Uganda object to chaka-mchaka on the grounds that it is a disguised program of political indoctrination into the NRM's ideology, including the belief that political parties are at the root of Uganda's past troubles. According to Democratic Party leader Paul Ssemogerere, "Chaka-mchaka is supposedly a military trainingprogram for community self-defense. It is actually a political program, an indoctrination into hating democratic pluralism and a constant reminder of the skeletons of the conflicts of the past." Law professor Jjuuko of Makerere University expressed a similar opinion of the courses: "The program would include the following two elements. First, there was the demystification of the gun [i.e., teaching the population not to fear guns]. Second, there was the political education, which included a history of Uganda according to the NRM, a crude form of historical materialism, and placed the blame for Uganda's past woes on the political parties."150 Because chaka-mchaka includes indoctrination into the belief that political parties are responsible for Uganda's past problems, it serves to justify the restrictions on political rights in effect today.
The systematic political education of its cadres and the general population has deep roots in the NRA/M movement, dating back to the earliest days of its guerrilla struggle. As early as 1971, Museveni instituted political education as one of the main training components of the Front for National Salvation (FRONESA) he was then leading, and the presence of Political Commissars at all levels of the UPDF continue this tradition to date. Museveni viewed his army as a "people's army" and his soldiers as "politicians in uniform," and claimed that the politicization of his rebel soldiers led to an increased respect for the human rights of civilians.151 The NRM extended its political education courses to the general population as it gained control over Ugandan territory. Mobile schools of political education operated during the guerrilla war, explaining the aims of the NRA/M, and were transformed in 1986 into a permanent institution, the National School of Political Education.152 The Special District Administrators appointed by the NRM government to establish the local council system relied heavily on graduates of the National School of Political Education to politically educate local populations.153 The value of the political education program for entrenchment of the NRM ideology and administration was not lost, as described by one senior NRA officer:
Quite apart from educating people about the aims and objectives of the NRM, political education was also a very effective way of winningsupport for the movement. The establishment of the RCs [resistance councils] and the institution of political education thus came to be seen, especially by the UPC and DP, as a threat to their existence. Right from the outset, forces associated with these parties were vehemently opposed to RCs and political education, claiming the former were communist structures, and the latter communist indoctrination. There was, however, no deterring the NRM-NRA from establishing RCs or spreading political education to all corners of the country.154
According to the inspector-general of government, Jotham Tumwesigye, the NRM national secretariat received a budget allocation from the government, used partly to fund a school for political training.155 Resident District Commissioners were provided with funding for chaka-mchaka, and political education was considered one of their major responsibilities, although these programs were periodically suspended due to lack of money. Civil servants were required to take the courses:
Civil servants used to go for one month to Budo to receive political education and military training. In the morning you start with chaka-mchaka at 6 a.m. At 10 a.m. the political lectures begin.156
Law professor Jjuuko gave a similar description of chaka-mchaka to Human Rights Watch:
In terms of school teachers, it was expected that you attend the courses, and the same was expected from people in the parastatals and civil servants. They wanted to extend it to the university but they failed to force it on us in 1989. Students who are entering their first year would be called to go to political school before entering university and the bulk of them went. This is still in place, but people now know that they don't have to attend to be admitted to the university. Now, probably 50 or 60 percent attend, while in 1993 it was probably 90 percent. Upcountry, atthe village level, the self-defense military training would be mixed with political education.157
Karuhanga K. Chapaa, chairperson of the National Democrats Forum Party, described the political education program as indoctrination:
They take people for indoctrination classes just like the Communist Party. They come and go to the rural area and seek out the influential people, the powerful people. They start indoctrinating them in the NRM ideology, about the crimes of political parties and multipartyists. Then the influential people carry out local courses. Even university students attend such courses. They try and reach everybody.158
Under the new constitutional dispensation, the NRM national secretariat which was responsible for political education is supposed to be disbanded, and its functions transferred to the department of political mobilization in the president's office. According to the minister of state in charge of the department of political mobilization, the constitutional change has merely incorporated the NRM national secretariat into the government structure as the department of political mobilization, a further indication of the continuing convergence between NRM and state structures.
Chaka-mchaka was suspended during the 1996 presidential and parliamentary elections period by the interim electoral commission, following complaints by multiparty supporters and Western diplomats that the courses were giving an unfair advantage to the NRM. President Museveni reportedly announced in August 1997 in Fort Portal that the courses would resume to help consolidate stability in Uganda.159
Reports in the Monitor newspaper in October 1997 claimed that local leaders and members of the local defense units (LDUs) went house to house in areas of the Masaka district to ensure that all adult members of local villages participated in chaka-mchaka courses.160 In November 1997, Gertrude Njuba, director of thedepartment of mass mobilization, officiated at a ceremony at the end of a three-week chaka-mchaka course for sixty-two persons, stating that "when one sees the advantages of chaka-mchaka, he or she participates without being forced."161 After a brutal massacre by rebels of the Allied Democratic Front in western Uganda,162 Vice President Dr. Specioza Kazibwe announced that chaka-mchaka political and military education efforts in western Uganda would be increased.163
Chaka-mchaka courses were further revived in the aftermath of the July 1998 local elections, and the NRM is gearing up to use chaka-mchaka political education to influence the outcome of the referendum in the year 2000. On his appointment as national political commissar, former Speaker of Parliament James Wapakhabulo reportedly said that he would produce cadres through the National School of Political Education to "market" movement ideas among the Ugandan people.164 On July 24, 1998, the new national political commissar announced that a "massive political education and military science programme" would take place at the National School of Political Education in Kyankwanzi in August 1998:
The office of the NPC at the Movement Secretariat confirms that a cadre development course for senior six leavers of 1998, shall commence at the National School for Political Education, Kyankwazi on August 7, 1998. This is therefore to inform the concerned senior six leavers to register with the RDC's offices with immediate effect.165
The government-owned New Vision reported on August 10, 1998 that 500 students had been enrolled in the political education course at Kyankwazi. The course signaled the re-introduction of a systemic chaka-mchaka course after a two-year recess, and each Ugandan district was required to send a minimum of ten students to the course.166
Violations of the Right to Freedom of Association
The emphasis on the right to freedom of association as a right to engage in effective association in community with others is of crucial importance in the context of Uganda, and points out the incompatibility of the restrictions contained in article 269 of the constitution with the right to association. Although article 269 allows parties to exist in name, it effectively deprives them of their essential purpose for being, by prohibiting them from engaging in any way in a contest for political power. As noted, article 269 prohibits political parties from "opening and operating branch offices," "holding delegates' conferences," "holding public rallies," "sponsoring or offering a platform to or in any way campaigning for or against a candidate for public office," and "carrying on any activities that may interfere with the movement political system for the time being in force."
The NRM has vigorously enforced article 269's restrictions on civil and political rights. Activists of the Democratic Party and the Uganda Peoples Congress were repeatedly arrested in 1997 for attempting to sell membership cards to their constituents. According to Democratic Party President Ssemogerere, Minister for Constitutional Affairs Emmanuel Kirenga justified this action on the grounds of article 269(e), which prohibits any interference with the operation of the movement system.167
Discussing the upcoming movement elections, Minister of State for Political Affairs Amama Mbabazi told reporters in May, 1998:
We know there are some people who don't subscribe to the Movement system of government. But it is also true that the country is currently governed under this system. Everybody is in the Movement and will remain so unless [the law] changes. [Kampala's multipartyist mayor] Sebaggala has no choice. He is automatically a member of the [Movement] electoral college for Kampala district.168
The requirement of the 1997 Movement Act compelling all members of parliament specifically, and all Ugandans generally to belong to the Movement politicalsystem and its structures169 violates the right to choose not to belong to any particular association. As discussed by legal scholar Manfred Nowak:
It follows from the emphasis on freedom in Art. 22(1) that no one may be forced, either directly or indirectly, by the State or by private parties, to join a political party, a religious society, a commercial undertaking, or a sports club.170
As this report makes clear, the movement system, despite its claims to the contrary, has many of the characteristics of a one-party system. The compulsory membership in the movement organs is incompatible with the right to freedom of association.
Because article 72(2) of the constitution allows only for parties that are registered in accord with legislation that has yet been enacted, new political parties cannot legally be formed and operate in Uganda today. Article 270 of the constitution grandfathers political organizations and parties which were in existence before the constitution: they may continue to exist and operate in conformity with the constitution, including the restrictions of Article 269.171 Uganda has operated under various bans on political party activity since the formation of the NRM government in 1986 (and similar bans instituted by previous administrations). This continued ban on the formation of new political parties has stifled the development of rejuvenated political institutions in Uganda, and has allowed the same parties which President Museveni describes as responsible for Uganda's past woes to dominate the political spectrum outside the NRM.
Violations of the Right to Freedom of Assembly
Article 269 of the constitution severely restricts the right of freedom of assembly, prohibiting political parties from holding political rallies or delegate conferences. These restrictions are inconsistent with the right to freedom of assembly, as they are not based on any of the grounds for derogation listed inarticle 21 of the ICCPR. The blanket ban is inconsistent with the principle of proportionality, which requires that "the type and intensity of an interference be absolutely necessary to attain a purpose."172 Blanket bans on political rallies and delegate conferences are by definition inconsistent with the requirement that the restrictions are "necessary in a democratic society."173
The constitutional ban on political rallies and other such activities has been vigorously implemented in Uganda. Even before the constitutional ban, officials would routinely break up political rallies or deny permits for political rallies to those who sought them. Cecilia Ogwal, then the highest-ranking member in a still united UPC, tried to challenge the restrictions on political rallies by attempting to hold a series of rallies in northern Uganda in 1993. During the first rally in Arua in February 1993, called to attempt to revive the UPC party and seek the views of the population on the proposed draft constitution, Ogwal was arrested and many participants were injured when the police dispersed the crowd.174 She was released a few hours later without charge. Soon thereafter, Ogwal attempted to address a similar rally in neighboring Nebbi district. Her advance team, sent to make preparations for the rally, was placed under arrest by the military. Upon her arrival, Ogwal went to the office of the assistant district administrator and was met by the entire district security team. The administrator told Ogwal that he had instructions not to let her address any rally. Ogwal described what happened next:
I insisted I see the instructions myself, but he refused to show them. We later obtained the instructions, which originated from the NRM secretariat, and were signed by Eriya Kategaya, who was at the time the national political commissar of the NRM. The instructions instructed all district administrators not to allow any political leader to hold any political meeting however low profile in their district. At the meeting, the district administrator gave me twelve hours to leave the district, or else he would shoot me as a rebel.175
Ogwal proceeded to try to hold a meeting at St. Augustine's Church at Mbale in May 1993. The police arrested sixteen of her followers and charged them withbelonging to an illegal organization.176 Several police officers were later suspended from duty for allowing Ogwal to address a rally in Mbale.177
Such incidents continued after the passing of the constitution and the coming into force of article 269 in 1995. The U.S. Department of State documented at least thirteen rallies, seminars, and other public events organized by opposition politicians which were dispersed or prevented by police that year.178
Restrictions are not only imposed on opposition politicians and do not always take the form of a formal ban. In March 1998, a peaceful Kampala march organized by Uganda's Catholic Church to call upon the Museveni government to engage in peace talks with the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel movement was canceled at the last moment at the request of President Museveni. The UPC had called upon all its members to join the peace rally, and persons interviewed by Human Rights Watch claimed it had been canceled at least in part because the government wanted to prevent the rally from becoming a political event.179
The Ugandan authorities often justify their intervention by claiming that the organizers of a rally, meeting, or seminar had failed to inform the appropriate authorities or seek permission for their event. However, there are no clear standards in Ugandan law that require organizers to seek police permission prior to organizing a rally or a seminar. The Police Statute grants the officer-in-charge of police the power to issue orders "directing the conduct of assemblies and processions on public roads or streets or at places of public resort."180 In addition, if "it comes to the knowledge" of the Inspector-General that an assembly or any procession "on any public road or street or any place of public resort" is being planned, and the Inspector-General has reasonable grounds for believing that the planned assembly or procession is likely to cause a breach of the peace, the Inspector-General may prohibit the assembly or procession "by notice in writing to the person responsible for convening the assembly or forming the procession."181 These regulations appear to be followed rarely in the cases described below.
In any case, the pattern of intervention by police in such events is clearly arbitrary and selective. Human Rights Watch is not aware of a single case in which pro-movement or NRM events were interfered with by the Ugandan authorities; only those events perceived as being "political" and counter to the movement ideology are targeted. The lack of clear standards about notice and permission requirements for public events allow the Ugandan authorities to act in this arbitrary and selective manner.
President Clinton's March 1998 Visit
According to reports in the government-controlled New Vision newspaper, at least two non-violent political protests were broken up or prevented by police around the time of U.S. President Bill Clinton's March 24-25, 1998, visit to Uganda. On March 20, 1998, police dispersed twelve members of the National Freedom Party (NFP) who attempted to organize a hunger strike in Constitution Square intended to show that not all Ugandans supported the movement system. The events organizer, NFP president Herman Ssemuju, was briefly taken into police custody on that day for questioning after defying orders to dissolve the rally which he was addressing. Police officials claimed that the protest had been dispersed because the organizers failed to seek permission for the event, but Ssemuju claimed that the inspector general of police had been informed of the planned event.182
On March 25, the Convention for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) attempted to organize a peaceful demonstration at Constitution Square to urge a return to pluralism in Ugandan politics. The interim coordinator of the CMD, member of parliament John Lukyamuzi, called off the demonstration after receiving a letter from the Inspector General of Police John Odomel backed by a visit from two plainclothes police officers at his residence, ordering him not to go ahead with the planned demonstration.183
May 1998 Arrests of Members of Parliament
In May 1998, the Ugandan Parliament debated a controversial land bill which was strongly opposed by many Buganda leaders. Human Rights Watch takes no position on the content of the land bill: our concern is with the ability of interested parties to discuss the contents of proposed legislation freely. The Buganda leadersperceived the land bill as a threat to the mailo land held in trust by the Kabaka or Buganda king, as the bill proposed granting the occupants of this land a more secure form of tenure, thus limiting the powers of the Kabaka over the mailo lands. The government attempted to muzzle public debate and halt public protests organized in opposition to the bill. A public lecture on the bill sponsored by the Uganda Youth Environment Project (UYEP), planned at Luzira primary school on May 23, was halted before it got started by plainclothes policemen, who claimed they had orders from "higher authorities." Herman Ssemuju, chair of the National Freedom Party, was expected to address the meeting. According to the government-owned New Vision, prior notice of the meeting had been given to the police by the organizers.184
Two members of parliament from the Buganda area, John Lukyamuzi and Yusuf Nsubuga Nsambu, were arrested and charged with "inciting a rally to do acts calculated to bring death or physical injury" after addressing a May 3, 1998 anti-land bill rally, although no violence resulted.185 Incitement is a criminal act in terms of the Ugandan criminal code, defined as making to an assembly any statement "indicating or implying that it would be incumbent or desirable ... to do any acts calculated to bring death or physical injury to any person or to any class or community of persons; or to do any acts calculated to lead to the destruction or damage to any property."186 Lukyamuzi was also charged with "promoting sectarianism." The charges are based on statements made by the two MP's at the rally. Nsambu reportedly told the audience: "Don't think the war we are currently fighting is a joke. It may take a new turn if the land issue does not protect the Baganda." Lukyamuzi reportedly stated: "You should wake up and fight Museveni, even if it means use of arms. You shouldn't sit back as our land is taken, it is our livelihood."187
As discussed elsewhere in this report, a radio journalist was detained and questioned for comments he made about the Land Bill. These incidents show the difficulties faced by those who wish to openly challenge controversial government policies. Similar arrests and detentions took place during an October 1996 strike against a newly introduced value-added tax (VAT). After a threat from Interior Minister Tom Butime that the government would arrest people encouraging the continuation of the anti-VAT strike, MP John Lukyamuzi, radio journalistMulindwa Muwonge, and at least seven others were arrested and detained overnight by police.188
Seminars broken up in June and July 1998
In June and July 1998, a series of peaceful seminars were dispersed by Ugandan authorities. According to the Foundation for African Development (FAD) and Democratic Party (DP) sources and media accounts, on June 19, 1998, police violently dispersed participants in a seminar organized by the Uganda Young Democrats (UYD) and FAD in the Eastern Ugandan town of Tororo. The seminar on "Human Rights and Democracy" was being addressed by Democratic Party President Paul Ssemogerere at the time. According to the administrator of FAD, the organizers had informed the local authorities about the meeting: "FAD and UYD had duly informed district officials in time about the seminar, including the RDC Tororo, Mr. James Magode Ikuya, the police and other local leaders."189 On the morning of June 19, District Police Commander (DPC) S. P. Tumwesigye called the seminar organizers to his office. According to a participant in that meeting, the organizers were informed that the police were under strict instructions from the RDC to stop the meeting, but the district police commissioner declined to give reasons for the refusal to allow it to be held.190 Ssemogerere described what happened when the seminar decided to proceed nonetheless:
At about noon, about sixteen policemen dressed in full riot gear and equipped with shotguns and tear gas canisters and batons took position outside the seminar venue. A few minutes later the [district police commissioner] marched in and ordered the participants to disperse, an order which was ignored by the participants.
Shortly after, we heard a whistle outside the building and baton wielding policemen charged into the building and beat up the participants. One medical doctor [Charles Kasozi] was badly injured around his eye which sustained a serious cut and he had to receive medical attention immediately. Five other participants also receivedinjuries from relentless batons. All our protests about the arbitrariness and the high handedness of the unwarranted police intervention fell on deaf ears as the room was cleared.191
According to Ssemogerere, the seminar was an entirely peaceful assembly and there was no threat of violence, disruption or breach of the peace to warrant such a violent police response.192 The incident was similarly described by international media sources.193
A second seminar organized by FAD under the same topic, "Democracy and Human Rights," which was due to take place in Kamuli district on July 6, 1998, was declared illegal by District Internal Security Officer (DISO) Lieutenant Baguma, reportedly on orders of the Deputy RDC Martha Asiimwe. The priest in charge of the original venue of the seminar, originally scheduled at Wesunire Catholic Parish Hall, was reportedly asked by the RDC and DISO officials to explain why he had allowed "multipartyists" to use the property.194 When the organizers attempted to move the seminar to the Umbrella Pub within Kamuli town, they arrived to find the place empty and surrounded by security officials:
At 10:30 a.m., we went straight to Umbrella Pub only to find empty chairs. The hall had been surrounded by plaincloth[es] security operatives. Would-be participants had been told not to go near Umbrella Pub [or face] harassment from the security men.195
A FAD representative claimed that Lieutenant Baguma told him: "You always go under cover of this FAD, but these topics have political implications, so we cannot accept you having such a seminar when the police is not aware."196 The FAD organizers had sought and obtained prior permission from the deputy RDC to hold the seminar. When asked to provide a legal basis for their actions, the securityofficials were reportedly unable to do so, simply stating that they were acting on the orders of the RDC.197
On July 10, 1998, a third seminar organized by the same organizations, with more than one hundred participants, was dispersed at Mbarara, when police officers arrived at the venue and ordered the meeting dispersed on the orders of the district police commander.198 District Police Commander Fred Nabongo was quoted in the New Vision as stating that the organizers had not informed the police and local authorities about their intention to hold the meeting, and claimed that "[t]his meeting was illegal and was likely to cause a breach of the peace."199 DP President Paul Ssemogerere, who was present at the meeting, vigorously challenged this version of events, claiming that the meeting was entirely peaceful and that the organizers had informed the authorities: "The resident district commissioner and the district police commander were informed in writing and in person long before the seminar. On Thursday, we sent an advance team which got assurances from the local authorities that everything would proceed okay."200 Anthony Ssekweyama, an organizer of the meeting, also said that the relevant authorities had been informed and had given their permission:
The first communication with the DPC was in form of an invitation letter to him to attend the FAD/UYD seminar that was to run from 9th to 11th July, 1998. When our co-ordinator in Mbarara served the DPC with this letter, he complained that he should not be invited before he is formally informed as the DPC of the area. When the second letter was delivered ... the DPC said we could go ahead. According to [the Mbarara co-ordinator], he asked the DPC to reply to the letter in writing, and the RDC said it was not necessary. Copies of the letters to the DPC were produced [at the seminar] but he said they were no longer of use to him.201
A fourth UYD/FAD workshop on the topic of "Democracy and Human Rights" at Uganda Martyrs University near Masaka, was dispersed by police officials on July 23, 1998. According to Jessica Crowe, a representative of the British Labour Party who was observing the meeting, a group of about fifteen armed police officers surrounded the meeting during the early afternoon and ordered the participants to disperse. The police chief could not state under which law the meeting was being dispersed, and told the UYD leadership that he was acting on orders from higher up. Two plainclothes security agents were present and were identified by the UYD representatives as internal security organization (ISO) agents. Crowe was later informed by the UYD organizers that as the delegates went to their rooms to gather their belongings, police men began stripping branches from nearby trees, and then chased the delegates from the campus by whipping them with the branches. Some delegates were chased all the way to Nkozi town by the police, a distance of several miles. The violent dispersal of the seminar was deplored by the director of the university.202
A political rally sponsored by the UYD at Mbarara on July 21, 1998, to protest recent interference with FAD/UYD seminars, was blocked by a heavy police presence, despite the fact that the UYD informed police beforehand of the scheduled event and invited senior district officials and the police to attend.203
Seminars Disrupted in July and August 1998
On July 25, 1998, police dispersed a public lecture at the Islamic University in which the Young Congress of Uganda, a UPC-aligned youth group, was presenting a paper entitled "The Land Act: Winners and Losers." Police claimed that they had not been informed of the meeting, and that it thus was illegal.204
In another telling incident, a seminar sponsored by the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) in Masindi on July 27, 1998, was interrupted when the RDC entered the venue together with several armed UPDF soldiers, reportedly stating that "I warned Anthony Ssekweyama not to bring his political partyactivities here to confuse our people but he can't listen."205 The FHRI seminar was allowed to proceed after it was explained to the RDC that it was sponsored by FHRI which is directed by Livingstone Sewanyana, not FAD which is directed by Anthony Ssekweyama.206
According to the government-owned New Vision, an August 9, 1998, seminar organized by former presidential candidate and president of the opposition Justice Forum, Kibirige Mayanja, to address the topic of "Poverty Alleviation in Uganda: A Review of the Leader/Led Relationship," was prevented from taking place by armed policemen. The newspaper reported that the decision to stop the seminar was taken by the Iganga district authorities.207
Opposition Politician Chapaa Arrested
Karuhanga Chapaa, chair of the National Democrats Forum, was arrested at his office in Kampala on December 17, 1998, by four plainclothes police officers, and taken to Kampala police station for questioning. After being kept overnight in detention, Chapaa was charged with sedition in relation to comments he reportedly made at a December 13, 1998, political rally at Nateete sponsored by member of parliament Ken Lukyamuzi. The charges are based on a report published in the Crusader newspaper, entitled "Museveni worse than Amin, Obote-Chapaa," which claimed that Chapaa had stated at the rally that "Amin and Obote were dictators but they were not thieves. Museveni is a dictator and a thief," "Museveni is a hardened thief," "Now many Banyankore feel ashamed because Museveni is spoiling their name," and "This movement is already dead and we should bury it."208 In a December 15 letter to the Crusader, Chapaa denied making the statements and asked for a correction, stating that he had only said that Museveni's regime was dictatorial and full of corrupt leaders.209 The editor of the Crusader newspaper, George Lugalambi, was arrested at the same time as Chapaa, and charged with "promoting sectarianism" in regards to an unrelated article (seebelow). Chapaa was released on bail of 500,000 shillings (approximately U.S. $500), two sureties of 10 million shillings each (approximately U.S. $10,000 each), and was required to surrender his passport.210
Uganda includes among its definition of sedition the uttering of any words with the intent "to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the person of the President, the Government as by law established or the Constitution," an offence punishable by a five-year jail sentence and a fine.211 While "promoting sectarianism" is not defined in the penal code as a criminal offense, it is an act of sedition to "promote feelings of ill-will and hostility, religious animosity or communal ill-feeling among any body or group of persons.212 Chapaa was convicted of sedition on June 28, 1999, and ordered to pay a 50,000 shilling (approximately U.S. $50 fine). He informed Human Rights Watch that he plans to appeal the sentence.
On December 26, 1998, Chapaa received a letter from the resident district commissioner of Bushenyi, entitled "Warning on illegal political activities and defamatory/treasonable utterances." Claiming that Chapaa was "carrying out illegal political activities in Bushenyi district," and had attended an "illegal political rally at Bitereko ... in which you uttered defamatory words against the President [and] also made treasonable utterances against the Government of the Republic of Uganda," the letter warned Chapaa "to stop illegal political activities." In addition to warning Chapaa not to violate articles 269, 73, and 270 of the constitution, the letter also told Chapaa to desist from distributing party cards, "which is an illegal act." The letter justified the warning as appropriate under the RDC's capacity as chair of the district security committee, because "your utterances have caused disharmony and are likely to destabilise the District in terms of Security."213 Chapaa responded that he had not made a statement at Bitereko, but had merely driven around the region to wave to his supporters: "On that fateful day of 26 December 1998, I just drove around in my constituency of Ruhinda to wave to my supporters, I did not even disembark from my car."214
Member of Parliament Wasswa Lule Arrested
Wasswa Lule, a member of parliament for Rubaga North, describes his arrest at his home on January 6, 1999:
I was sitting down to have supper at about 8:15 p.m. on Wednesday 6th January, 1999. I was at my residence in Lugujja, Makamba zone when two plain clothes policemen requested to see me. They were accompanied by a large contingent of uniformed policemen armed with sub-machine guns which appeared to be Kalasnikov AK 47's. I am made to understand that they were up to thirty in number. I was shown a handwritten document with the narrative "proceed to Lungujja and arrest Hon. Wasswa Lule."215
Lule was taken to the Kampala central police station where he was interrogated about statements allegedly made at a Ramadan seminar organized by the Uganda Muslim Youth Assembly, attributed to him in a Monitor newspaper article of January 4, 1999, entitled "Time to probe Museveni-MP." According to the Monitor article, Lule said that it had become necessary to investigate President Museveni personally for corruption because others close to the president, including the president's brother, had been implicated in corruption. Lule also reportedly claimed that he had been fired from his position as deputy inspector general of government so corrupt officials could steal Uganda's wealth.216 Lule was alleged to have made the statements when the Museveni administration was engulfed in corruption allegations which had led to the resignations of President Museveni's brother, Major General Salim Saleh and Minister of State for Privatization Matthew Rukikaire.
Lule was detained until about 2 a.m. According to the Monitor, police spokesman Bob Ngobi stated that Lule "was not under arrest but was wanted for interrogation over utterances [which] attacked the person of the president, and are likely to raise disaffection against the person of the president and government of Uganda; an offence under the penal code."217 Under Uganda's penal code, "uttering any words with [an] intention" "to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the person of the President [or] the Government" isconsidered sedition and can lead to a five-year maximum prison term.218 Shortly before his arrest, Lule was criticized by President Museveni's wife for calling for a corruption investigation of the president.219
Arrest of FAD Officials in Moyo
On January 16, 1999, three Foundation for African Development officials attempted to organize a training session on civic education in Moyo, a town in the West Nile region of Uganda, near the Sudanese border. Soon after the seminar began with opening remarks at about 11:30 a.m., a police officer entered the seminar room and requested to see the "leader of the team that came from Kampala." Constantine Embatia and Hellen Acam, both FAD officials, identified themselves and were informed that the district police commander (DPC) wanted to see them.
When the two FAD officials arrived at the office of the DPC, they were informed by a police officer that the Moyo resident district commissioner wanted to see them at 2:30 p.m. and that they should remain at the police station until that time. According to a statement by one of the FAD officials obtained by Human Rights Watch, a vehicle soon left the station with police to disperse the seminar:
At about 12:45 p.m., while we were at the police station, I saw six armed men board a police pick-up and drive out of the station.
This vehicle...went to the venue of the training. While at the [Moyo Technical Institute], the armed police men took position around the hall and at the doors while the rest stormed the hall. The commander ordered everybody to stand up and leave everything.... The calm and peaceful participants obeyed the orders. [The policemen] collected the items which were on the desks and searched the cavera [sic] which was containing the balance of stationery and money which was for facilitating the training. The participants were ordered to leave the hall and the two police officers were the last to come [out] after seeing everybody out.220
Ally Ssali, a third FAD official who had remained at the seminar, was taken to the police station by police after the dispersal of the seminar.
The three FAD officials were allowed to leave the police station for lunch, and then returned to wait in vain for the Commissioner. At about 3:15 p.m., one of the FAD officials asked to see him and was brought to his office. According to the FAD official, the Commissioner "faked ignorance of what was going on." The FAD official returned to the police station with no explanation of the reason for their detention and the disruption of the seminar.
At about 5 p.m., the district police commissioner called the three FAD officials into his office and informed them that he had just returned from a meeting with the RDC and the district security committee and was under instructions to detain the three FAD officials in police cells until 9:30 a.m. the next day. Later than night, the FAD officials inquired to a police officer whether they had been officially booked in, because they wanted to ensure that their detention was recorded. The duty officer informed them that they had not been recorded in the lock-up record, and the three FAD officials argued with the station commander that their detention was improper because the police had not recorded the detention and was refusing to state the grounds for the detention as required by Ugandan law. According to the FAD officials, the station commander replied that he had been instructed to keep the three in safe custody "until further instructions are received from higher authorities." However, the officer later relented, and allowed the three officials to return to their hotel after confiscating their documents and some other property, and ordering them to report to the police station early the next morning.
Soon after their return to the hotel, the district police commissioner arrived there and ordered the three to return to the police station. At 10 a.m. the next day, after spending the night in police custody, the police recorded statements of two of the FAD officials. Shortly after 11 a.m., the three FAD officials were taken to the office of the RDC, were they were questioned by the District Security Committee for about an hour about FAD activities. At the end of the meeting, the FAD officials were asked to apologize for coming to the district without permission and holding an unlawful assembly. The FAD officials refused to apologize, arguing that there were no legal grounds for this request. The three were then told to return to the police station while the District Security Committee deliberated on how to proceed.
When the district police commissioner returned to the police station, he continued to demand a written apology from the FAD officials. According to the FAD officials, the commissioner insisted on the apology letter as a condition of release, telling Constantine Embatia that "you will be released on the condition that you write an apology letter condemning your activities in the district and apologizing for it." The commissioner returned again at about 2:45 p.m., asking Embatia if she had finished her apology letter. Embatia protested that she wasbeing coerced to write the apology letter, to which the DPC replied that the letter was the condition for their release and that the choice was entirely up to her. After consulting with her colleagues, Embatia decided to write the letter in order to obtain their release. The three were released at about 3:45 p.m. on January 17, approximately twenty-eight hours after their original arrest.
Many of the statements attributed to local officials by the FAD organizers suggest that the seminar was broken up for political reasons. A local FAD organizer informed the organization's officials that the district council chairperson had described the FAD seminar as a multiparty meeting intended to cause disruption in the district, and that the meeting should be prevented from taking place. According to the FAD organizers, the policeman who first arrived at the seminar told them: "You people of FAD, wherever you go you always cause problems and confusion, you caused problems for our people in Tororo [and] Mbarara and now you want to put us in trouble."221
Harassment of NDF Activist
On April 19, 1999, Daudi Kagambirwe, a member of the National Democrats Forum (NDF), handed out official NDF documents at the end of a district meeting of the Uganda National Students Association, of which he was the acting district chairperson. On April 21, the district internal security officer (DISO) told Kagambirwe that his NDF activities were "improper and illegal." On May 5, 1999, Kagambirwe was arrested by a plainclothes security operative, who told him that he was required to give a statement to the police. He was taken to Kabale police station, and was kept in custody from the time of his arrest at 4 p.m. until 9 a.m. the next morning. When he left the station, Kagambirwe heard the DISO talking to a police officer, stating that Kagambirwe was a member of the NDF, "a political wing of the ADF [rebel group] and [he] will have to explain over this." He was required to return to the police station on May 8 to answer further questions about his membership in the NDF.222
Local Official Harassed after FAD Seminar
On April 26, 1999, the Foundation for African Development organized a workshop on "Human Rights in the Community" in Mpingi District. The workshop was attended by eighty-one community members, including local council leaders and police officials, and featured two presentations by FAD officials as well as a presentation on the role of the community in promoting human rights by alocal police officer. According to a signed statement by FAD officials to Human Rights Watch, local council chairperson Paul Ssemwanga Sooka was approached by the police officer in charge of the Kabulassoke police station, Francis Asiimwe, and two officers of the Internal Security Organization (ISO) after the completion of the seminar. The police and ISO officers claimed that the workshop was illegal, and asked the council chairperson why he believed he had the power to bring FAD workshops to the area. According to the FAD statement, the officials told the chairperson "never to offer [a] platform to FAD officials in that kind of a forum," and extorted money from him after threatening to forward the matter to higher authorities.223
Detention and Questioning of NDF Member
At about 3 p.m. on June 11, 1999, Ahimbisibwe Ponsiano, a former UPDF soldier who joined the National Democrats Forum (NDF), was arrested by two men and a woman in civilian clothes at a private business in Nakulabye, a suburb of Kampala. The trio entered the private business, asked for Ponsiano by name, and then asked him to accompany them. He was taken to a private house which was guarded by UPDF soldiers in Kabowa, another suburb of Kampala. At about 9 p.m., Lieutenant Colonel John Mugisha, the apparent owner of the house, arrived and started to question Ponsiano. Mugisha first asked Ponsiano what he had been doing since his retirement from the UPDF, but rapidly focused his questions on Ponsiano's membership in the NDF and the activities of the NDF and its chairperson, Karuhanga K. Chapaa.
After the questioning ended and Mugisha left the room to make a telephone call, Ponsiano was taken to his home by two armed men. The two men searched Ponsiano's home, and then took him to another home in Bukoto, a suburb of Kampala, where he was further questioned by UPDF officers, including Lieutenant Colonel Kasaijia, the owner of the house. The officers questioned Ponsiano about his relatives in Mbarara district who belong to the NDF, Ponsiano's meetings with Chapaa, and "safe houses" where Chapaa conducts meetings. The officers then proceeded to ask why the NDF is recruiting UPDF veterans, to which Ponsiano replied that all Ugandans were welcome in the NDF. Finally, the officers asked Ponsiano about Chapaa's relationships with other opposition politicians, including Members of Parliament Wasswa Lule, Ken Lukyamuzi, and Aggrey Awori.
After the interrogation ended at about midnight, Ponsiano was told to sleep at the house. In the morning, he was taken to Katwe police station and told to write a statement about his NDF activities. Shortly afterwards, some men whom Ponsiano believed belonged to a security organization arrived and told the police to release Ponsiano. Ponsiano was released, but was required to report to the police station on a regular basis afterwards.224
The Ban on Party Conferences and Freedom of Association and Assembly
Movement supporters accuse political parties of lacking internal democracy; they claim that the parties continue to be run by the same politicians who founded the parties at the time of Uganda's independence. However, the very restrictions put in place by article 269 perpetuate these internal characteristics, in effect freezing the leadership and structures of the political parties in time. Indeed, Minister of State for Justice and Constitutional Affairs Emmanuel Kirenga issued a strong warning when the DP tried to convene a party conference to change the party's leadership, stating that he would not hesitate to take action against them if the proscribed conference was convened.225 Thus, President Museveni continues to describe the UPC of being the party of Milton Obote-a powerful message in a country which was brutalized during Obote's reign-while at the same time denying the UPC the opportunity to call a delegates' conference to reform its leadership. Patrick Mwondha, the secretary of the interim executive council of the UPC, a faction of the UPC which no longer recognizes Milton Obote as the leader of the UPC, described this:
Article 269 stipulates that parties cannot hold delegates' conferences. Our party constitution says that the delegates' conference elects the leadership of the party, so we are caught between the party constitution and the national constitution. We would have to break the law to hold a delegates' conference. Even amending our constitution requires a delegates' conference.226
The view that the political restrictions under the movement system limit the ability of the UPC and other parties to institute democratic reforms was echoed by outgoing U.S. Ambassador Michael Southwick, who stated in an interview in 1997: "I am amazed that [Obote] still generates headlines and even leads a political party. But I would not necessarily blame the UPC because it is not operating under free conditions. If it were, we would probably see a much different UPC."227 John Ssenkumba, a researcher at Makerere University's Centre for Basic Research, argues that the ban on delegate conferences is one of the tools used by the NRM to ensure their own continuation in power:
To rejuvenate themselves, parties need to restructure themselves, something practically impossible with the present ban. By keeping the country unripe for pluralism, and ensuring unconducive conditions for the emergence of any non-NRM alternative, the NRM has politically ensured some tentative political invincibility.228
The Proposed Political Organizations Bill
Article 72 of the Ugandan constitution requires parliament to adopt legislation to govern the financing and functioning of political parties.229 In December 1998, the Political Organizations Bill (1998), a bill to strictly regulate the conduct and organization of political parties, was tabled in parliament by the minister of justice and constitutional affairs. However, as discussed below, the government has repeatedly withdrawn the bill, preferring for the moment to allow the more stringent restrictions of article 269 of the constitution to remain in force.
Although some of the requirements set out in the bill appear to be designed to ensure that political parties adhere to certain minimum democratic standards, the vagueness of many of the proposed regulations would give the NRM-controlled government tremendous power to control political parties. The regulations contained in the Political Parties Organizations Bill place a severe burden on the ability of political organizations in Uganda to operate freely and effectively. When looked at in its entirety, the political organizations bill raises many concerns. Like article 269, the Political Parties Bill will allow the NRM administration to allowpolitical parties to exist in name, but to regulate their activities so restrictively that they are effectively deprived of their ability to organize.
In Uganda's post-independence history, some political parties have at times operated in an undemocratic and unconstitutional manner, and the Ugandan government may have a legitimate interest in preventing such abuses in the future. The Ugandan government may legitimately outlaw and punish illegal or unconstitutional activities by political parties, like incitement to violence. But the government cannot use its concerns about such activities to impose an overbroad and arbitrary ban which encompasses the internationally protected activities of political parties.
The Exclusion of the NRM "Movement" Structures from Regulation
One of the most fundamental concerns about the Political Organizations Bill is that it excludes the movement political system and the organs created under the movement political system from its regulations (Section 3(2)(a)). Thus, while political parties are rigidly controlled by the regulations in the Bill, the former NRM structures-transformed into "movement" structures-are allowed to continue functioning without regulation. The NRM's "movement" structures are to be privileged in the same way that the NRM structures currently benefit from their exclusion from the political restrictions of article 269 of the Constitution. This blatant discriminatory application of the regulations is inconsistent with international standards.
All political organizations, including the amorphous movement structures, if they are regulated at all, should be regulated in a nondiscriminatory manner. Candidates running for public office should be required to abide by the same set of rules governing financing, campaigning and other matters, regardless of their political affiliation (including membership in the ruling "movement"). Candidates for public office, whether members of political parties or of the "movement," should have equal access to government funding, as well as equal right to fundraise.
Onerous Restrictions on the Establishment of Political Parties
The Political Organizations Bill also restricts the establishment of political parties. Such limitations should be proportional to the legitimate aims advanced, and should not be so onerous as to effectively undermine freedom of association. Some of the proposed requirements placed upon the registration of political parties and their conduct are onerous and arbitrary. Even those that would be acceptable under international standards if applied uniformly to all political parties and similar organizations are discriminatory because NRM structures are exempt.
Section 6 of the proposed bill prohibits the formation of political organizations whose membership is based on "sex, race, color, ethnic, birth, creed or religion or other similar division," as well as parties "which use words, slogans or symbols which could arouse" such divisions, and parties which do not have a national character. Some of these proposed restrictions are vague and could easily be abused by an administration hostile to opposition political parties. The proposed prohibition on the use of speech which could arouse divisions is overly broad. For example, several Buganda parliamentarians raised concerns about the proposed land bill in early 1998, and it would seem that the raising of such regional concerns could fall under the ambit of section 6, prohibiting the use of "words" which could arouse "division."230 Section 6 of the bill is inconsistent with the right to freedom of speech contained in the ICCPR.
Under section 7, political parties would be required to pay a nonrefundable fee of two million shillings (approximately U.S. $2,000) to obtain registration, a substantial amount by Ugandan standards. Parties would need to deposit with the electoral commission copies of their constitution and a list of founding members in at least one third of districts of Uganda to obtain registration (section 9). The proposed requirement of having founding members in at least one third of the forty-five districts establishes a high threshold, given Uganda's rudimentary communications and infrastructure system. This proposed requirement would severely limit the formation of new democratic institutions in Uganda. In effect, these requirements will stifle the emergence of new political parties which tend to start with a small regional or urban base, since such incipient organizations will most likely not be able to attract founding members in one-third of Uganda's districts.
The requirement that each political party have a "national" character (Section 6) is also problematic. In many countries, regional parties compete effectively for power. While it is legitimate for government to restrict some of the disruptive activities sometimes associated with ethnic, religious or regionally based parties-such as criminal provisions punishing political violence-a complete ban on parties which do not have a national character is too broad a measure to achieve such a goal.
The Exclusion of Certain Groups from Political Activities
Article 23 of the Political Organizations Bill excludes all members of the army (UPDF), the Uganda Police Force, the Uganda Prisons Service, as well as"public officers" (a term not defined in the bill), traditional rulers, and cultural leaders231 from participation in a wide variety of political activities. Members of these groups cannot be founders or members of political organizations, are not eligible to hold office in a political organization, "speak in public or publish anything involving matters of political organisation controversy," and cannot engage in canvassing in support of candidates sponsored by political parties.
Many countries ban members of the armed forces and the police force from politics, so political restrictions placed on these groups may be legally more acceptable than those placed on other groups. While there are grounds in international law for restrictions on the freedom of association of members of the armed forces and the police-such restrictions are specifically envisioned by Article 22 of the ICCPR232-these restrictions should be carefully tailored and be applied without discrimination.
The Political Parties Bill does not exclude members of the armed forces and the police from politics: it merely excludes them from opposition political party politics. Active UPDF officers have participated in politics since the coming to power of the NRA in 1986. President Museveni himself, a number of his cabinet ministers, as well as a significant number of parliamentarians and local council members at all levels, are officers in the UPDF. The Political Organizations Bill does not restrict politically active UPDF and police officers from engaging in national or local politics in their individual capacity or under the umbrella of the NRM "movement," a distinction which could be viewed as arbitrary.
The exclusion of members of the Uganda Prisons Service, public officers, and traditional and cultural leaders from political activities is arbitrary under international norms, as these groups are not traditionally barred from political participation. In fact, the exclusion of all members of the public administration from the enjoyment of freedom of association was specifically rejected during thedebates leading up to the adoption of article 22 of the ICCPR, and the exclusion of persons other than military or police officers from freedom of association rights must therefore be considered to fall outside the specific language of the article.233
In addition, the prohibitions placed on speech (including publication) for all groups who have their political activities restricted is overly broad. The limitation envisioned in article 22 of the ICCPR is clearly limited to restrictions on freedom of association, and similar restrictions are not envisioned under the rights of freedom of speech or assembly.
Continuing Restrictions on the Activities of Political Parties
Although it purports to regulate, not repress, political parties, the draft Political Organizations Bill retains many of the restrictions on political party activity previously contained in Article 269 of the Uganda constitution.234 Section 24(a) of the Political Organizations Bill states that under the movement system, "no political organisation and no person on behalf of a political organisation shall sponsor or offer a platform to or in any way campaign for or against a candidate in any presidential or parliamentary election or any other election," a restriction similar to that contained in article 269(d) of the constitution. Candidates for public office are also banned from using "any symbol, slogan, colour or name identifying any political organisation for the purpose of campaigning for or against any candidate" in an election (Section 24(b)).
These limitations on the activities of political parties and their candidates strike at the very heart of political party activities. The Political Organizations Bill itself defines a political party as "a political organisation the objects of which include the sponsoring of, or offering a platform to, candidates for election to a political office and participation in the governance of Uganda at all levels," only to ban political parties from engaging in exactly those activities. It appears this prohibition covers political rallies during election periods as well.
In addition to requiring political parties to notify the local police commander seventy-two hours before holding any meeting, the proposed legislation prohibits political parties from holding meetings in the same place at the same time (Section 22(2)). While notice requirements are justifiable under international law, the frequent abuse of such provisions to interrupt and disperse political events underthe current system (as documented here) argues for a reformed notification scheme in order to prevent such arbitrary interferences.
The minister in charge of elections and referenda is given wide-ranging powers under the bill to further regulate political organizations, although the approval of parliament is necessary. In particular, the bill allows the minister, with the approval of parliament, to adopt regulations regarding "the opening of branch offices, holding of delegates' conferences, public rallies and any other activities of political organisations as may be reasonably necessary to prevent interference with the operation of the movement political system when that system is in existence in Uganda," (Section 32(2)(a)), mirroring the restrictions currently contained in Article 269 of the Constitution. Because of the frequent hostility shown by the NRM administration to opposition political parties, the appointment of an NRM minister to regulate these political parties could lead to many further restrictions on political organizations. In order to avoid the danger of further arbitrary or abusive restrictions on political organizations, it would be better to appoint an independent and impartial body to oversee the regulation of political organizations. This position is shared by the Uganda Human Rights Commission, which states that "no Minister should in any way control the operation of political parties or political organizations. An independent authority should be vested with this responsibility."235
The Referendum on Political Parties in the Year 2000
The Ugandan constitution grants the Ugandan people the right to choose a political system of their choice through "free and fair elections or referenda."236 The electorate may choose between the movement political system or the multiparty system, both defined in the constitution, or any other "democratic and representative political system."
The constitution states that the first elections for president, parliament, and local government will be held under the movement system, but requires the holding of a referendum in the fourth year] of the first term of parliament "to determine the political system the people of Uganda wish to adopt."237 The referendum and other provisions act requires the Electoral Commission to set a date between June 3 and July 2, 2000, for the referendum. 238 After this initial referendum, it remainspossible to change the political system in the future either by referendum or by elections if certain conditions are met.239
The Adoption of the Referendum Act
The Referendum and Other Provisions Act was adopted amid controversy on July 2, 1999, the constitutional deadline for the adoption of the legislation. Along with opposition political parties and the media, the Ugandan Law Society protested that the legislation was scarcely debated and had been rushed through parliament without a quorum:
The Society would like to express its gravest concern over the way the Referendum and Other Provisions Bill was debated in a record 24 hours.... This is such an important piece of legislation to the citizens because it will lead to the determination of the political arena of this country. Not giving it thorough surgery was a disservice to the citizens and we call upon the legislature which is answerable to its electorate to provide a satisfactory answer to such an act. To add to this injury, the bill was debated when there was no quorum.240
The constitution envisioned that the Ugandan government would adopt two pieces of legislation: referendum legislation to regulate the holding of the referendum, and political organizations legislation to regulate the functioning of political parties. For political parties to freely campaign during the referendum period, however, it was necessary to pass the political organizations bill prior to the beginning of the referendum campaign period. While the political organizations bill was introduced to parliament long before the referendum bill, the government chose to withdraw this bill from parliament just shortly before passage of the referendum and other provisions act. Through this maneuver, the NRM has succeeded in ensuring that political parties will continue to be handicapped by the restrictions of article 269 of the constitution during the referendum campaign period. Thus, there will be no level playing field for opposition political parties during the referendum campaign period.
The NRM's manipulation of the legal framework for the referendum led to a rejection of the referendum by all six major opposition political organizations inUganda-the DP, UPC, Free Movement, Conservative Party, National Democrats Forum, and the Justice Forum. In a joint statement, the opposition political organizations declared that they would not take part in the referendum:
Given the fact that the Movement government has taken the extreme position of denying political parties a legitimate legal framework by withdrawing the Political Organizations Bill and passing an unfair Referendum Bill, the Political Parties and civic organizations find themselves locked out of the referendum contest and have no option but to reject the Referendum Bill and the subsequent referendum exercise.241
The Uganda Law Society was equally critical of the withdrawal of the political parties bill, stating that "the ground level is not even" and that "the referendum may not be free and fair."242
Continuing Restrictions during the Referendum Period
The constitution does allow some limited debate on the future political system, stating that in the year prior to the referendum, "any person shall be free to canvass for public support for a political system of his or her choice."243 The granting of this right to canvass to individuals was deliberate. Parties continue to be prohibited from holding public rallies during the run-up to the referendum, so organized opposition to a vote for the movement system is effectively handicapped, while the NRM can mobilize its supporters through the state-sponsored movement structures.
Because article 269 of the constitution remains in force, opposition political parties are deprived of the opportunity to mount an effective campaign in the referendum. As noted, article 269 prohibits political parties from opening or operating branch offices, holding delegates' conferences, holding public rallies, sponsoring candidates for elections, or engaging in any activities "that may interfere with the movement political system."
The referendum act requires each "side" to the referendum to form a national referendum committee whose duties will include "to organize the canvassing for its side, and to appoint agents for the purpose of canvassing." Such committees cannot be considered a substitute for the opposition political parties. Political parties should not be required to form a unified referendum committee but shouldrather be allowed to canvass for themselves in a referendum which is fundamentally about their survival.
The referendum act does allow "any agent ... either alone or in common with others" to publish canvassing materials such as books, pamphlets, leaflets, or posters.244 However, when using the private electronic media during canvassing, agents are prohibited from making false or reckless statements, malicious statements, statements containing sectarian words or allusions, abusive, insulting or derogatory statements, exaggerations, caricatures, or words of ridicule, or using derisive or mudslinging words.245 These prohibitions on forms of speech are overly broad and vague, and inconsistent with freedom of speech standards. Their broad and vague nature could sanction the suppression of speech which falls within the ambit of protected speech. As with the draft political organizations bill, the minister responsible for elections can make additional regulations regulating the canvassing process, with the approval of parliament. Because of the long history of hostility of pro-NRM ministers towards opposition political parties, such powers should lie with an independent and impartial body.
The Rejection of the Referendum by the Opposition
With the exception of a those closely identified with the NRM and the movement system, few persons interviewed by Human Rights Watch believed that the referendum on political parties could be free and fair in light of the movement's domination of the political arena through discriminatory laws. Paul Ssemogerere, president of the Democratic Party and the main contender against Museveni in the 1996 presidential elections, stated to Human Rights Watch:
There cannot be a fair referendum in Uganda. We are against it on principle. The process is being rigged in advance. I know what I went through as a presidential candidate and the movement will fight hard. The movement will use government structures extensively during this time. The Movement Act will also be used to prepare the ground. They will continue to demonize the parties, calling them Kony's and Obote's allies. The movement is not a system, it is a political organization. The country and the international community are being deceived. The voteis absolutely about a one-party state. I will not participate in this charade, even if I remain alone.246
In commenting on the upcoming referendum, a member of the electoral commission charged with organizing and monitoring elections said:
I don't think we can have a fair referendum. You cannot have twelve years of a movement system and then expect one year [of campaigning] to change things. People on the ground do not understand the political system and vote for personalities. They will vote for movement because they like Museveni. How do you phrase a question on which people are allowed to vote? ... It will not be a fair referendum.247
Advocates of pluralism and opposition politicians in Uganda expressed similar skepticism about the referendum, and the six main opposition parties have publicly called upon their supporters to boycott the referendum. Law Professor Frederick Jjuuko, Chair of the Freedom Movement, a recently formed group advocating a speedy return to political pluralism in Uganda, explained his opposition to the referendum:
I do not think that there can be a fair referendum on the political system in Uganda, and we intend to call for a boycott of the referendum. It is not designed to be conducted in good faith to determine the will of the people on the movement system, but rather to perpetuate the movement into perpetuity.
There are a number of reasons why the referendum cannot be fair. The movement has been on the scene for a long time and has developed a virtual monopoly on ideas, and they have political schools called chaka-mchaka which they combine with military training to spread their messages. The parties have not been able to do this, and there has been a systematic attempt to kill the political parties. It is contradictory to suppress the parties for all these years and then expect them to put on acampaign equal to the movement which has access to state resources. The odds are all against the political parties.248
Cecilia Ogwal, leader of the influential Interim Executive Council of the UPC, has similarly called for a boycott of the referendum, calling it a "death trap for the future."249 Her colleague, Patrick Mwondha of the UPC, suggested that the referendum was the culmination of a concerted campaign to destroy political parties in Uganda:
Museveni himself calls us enemies. What do you do to an enemy? That shows you the mentality of the man. He does not see us as opponents or legitimate alternatives to himself. Museveni has not allowed the opposition, he has put up with it-there is a big difference. We started with an administrative ban which was enforced furiously. Then came article 269 in the constitution, and it is now being translated into the Political Organizations Bill. The referendum will seal everything.250
Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala, leader of Uganda's influential Catholic Church, also expressed his opposition to the proposed referendum during his 1998 Christmas address, stating that the referendum would infringe fundamental human rights.251 Similarly, in his Idd-El Fitir address marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Sheikh Mukasa, leader of the largest Muslim community in Uganda, urged the Ugandan government to amend the constitution and abandon the referendum, stating that the referendum would lead to a denial of the right to associate freely.252
According to Winnie Byanyima, a member of parliament and an outspoken movement supporter, the real issue behind the referendum for movement supporters is different:
The transition is coming to an end and some people do not want to recognize this. Those in power and those who are gaining from the system of the day fear change. I sought to define the movement as a transitional arrangement [at the constituent assembly debates] and was branded a traitor, a multipartyist. It was clear that there were two camps: the larger saying that the movement is an alternative form of government and our smaller group which said that we could not infringe those rights forever. There has to be a referendum every five years, but I never wanted this. It is a problem of handing over power, it is always a problem in Africa. Even after doing very well, it is always a problem to democratize.253
The suggestion that movement leaders are aiming to entrench themselves in power is born out by frequent statements by movement leaders at rallies that the movement system will remain in power in Uganda. For example, at a May 3, 1998, rally in Gulu Prime Minister Kintu Musoke told the crowd:
The system is now permanent, so come in and struggle for power and not from outside. Come on the boat which is broad-based.... The NRM system is like a basket full of everything and even if you kick it, it cannot fall. It will be stable and will be for good.254
Similar statements are often made by government representatives such as resident district commissioners. For example, the RDC of Mukono, Peter Kalagala, told local residents that the movement was here to stay and could not be ousted: "Whether you like it or not, the Movement system came to stay like the water hyacinth, so just leave it alone."255
The Referendum and International Standards
Referenda are an important way in which citizens can participate directly in the decision-making process, and are often resorted to by governments to allow direct input from the civilian population on questions of grave public importance. For example, referendums are often used to determine the popular will on questions of self-determination. Because referendums allow civilians a direct voice on issues of public importance, they can provide an opportunity to accurately gauge the will of the people.
Like all peoples, Ugandans have the right to freely choose their system of governance. However, two major issues seriously call into question whether the proposed referendum can truly be called a free and fair exercise of their democratic rights.
First, the NRM has extensively manipulated the political landscape in Uganda for the past thirteen years, and has succeeded to a significant extent in destroying the capacity of opposition political parties to function effectively. The demonization of independent political parties has been a central tenet of the NRM's political program, bolstered by a state-funded political education program which has immersed thousands into the ruling NRM's anti-party political ideology. While independent political parties have been systematically harassed, the NRM bodies (including the movement structures) have gained increased access to state funding and other state resources. Even during the pre-referendum campaign period, the political playing field between the opposition parties and the NRM will be fundamentally uneven. The track record of the NRM towards independent political parties suggests that harassment during the campaign period will be severe, effective preventing the advocates of pluralism from contesting the NRM's position. In short, the NRM will be in a position of unchallenged dominance during the referendum campaign period.
Second, the notion that fundamental human rights of freedom of association and assembly can be limited by a popular mandate is irreconcilable with the very purpose of human rights law, which is to put certain basic rights beyond the grasp of majority opinion. As the Ugandan constitution states, "fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual are inherent and not granted by the State."0 The current limitations which the "movement" system of government places on the rights of freedom of association, assembly, speech and expression are inconsistent with Uganda's own constitution and with international law, and the referendumaims to entrench these limitations further.1 Ugandans are free to choose their political system by majority mandate, but the political system chosen must be consistent with the international human rights obligations assumed by the Ugandan government.
Regardless of the popular mandate which the NRM government may have in Uganda, fundamental human rights cannot be limited by a majority mandate. As argued by Mahmood Mamdani, professor for African Studies at the University of Cape Town,
The consequence of a movement election is to make organized opposition illegal. That this can be decided by majority vote makes a travesty of the right of organized opposition, crucial to any democracy, since everyone knows that an opposition is just that, precisely because it is a minority.2
This was a view echoed by Norbert Mao, a member of parliament for Gulu municipality:
I don't think political rights should be subject to a referendum. I am opposed to subjecting my freedom to associate to a referendum. The purpose of a bill of rights is to put certain rights beyond the reach of majorities. These are fundamental human rights which you enjoy notbecause you are many but because you are human. They are now turning it into a game of numbers.3
82 Human Rights Watch interview with Justice Odoki, Chair, Constitutional Commission, Kampala, April 4, 1998.
83 Commission of Inquiry into Violations of Human Rights, Final Report (Entebbe: UPPC, 1993).
84 Uganda Constitutional Commission, Report of the Uganda Constitutional Commission (Entebbe: UPPC, 1993), pp. 185-88.
85 Uganda Constitution (1995), Arts 51-58.
86 Uganda Human Rights Commission Act (1997).
87 "Uganda Rights Commission Demands Release of Detained Moslems," Agence France Presse, June 4, 1998.
88 For a general overview of the process of decentralization in Uganda, see Apolo Nsibambi (ed.), Decentralisation and Civil Society in Uganda: The Quest for Good Governance (Kampala: Fountain Publishers, 1998).
89 Uganda Constitutional Commission, Report of the Uganda Constitutional Commission: Analysis and Recommendations, p. 197.
90 "Speech by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala-Live," Kampala Radio Uganda Network, January 27, 1998.
91 Chris McGreal, "Dark Past Haunts Ugandan Election," Weekly Mail and Guardian (South Africa), May 10, 1996.
92 Museveni, Sowing the Mustard Seed, p. 187. See also, "Museveni Opposes Multi-Party System," Pan African News Agency, July 25, 1997.
93 Human Rights Watch interview with Amama Mbabazi, Minister of State for Political Affairs, Kampala, May 5, 98.
94 Quoted in Nelson Kasfir, "`No-Party Democracy' in Uganda," Journal of Democracy, April 1998, p. 60.
95 Ibid., p. 187.
96 "Speech by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala-Live," Kampala Radio Uganda Network.
97 "Uganda Under Pressure to Embrace More Democracy," Reuters, Kampala, January 15, 1999.
98 Nelson Kasfir, "Uganda politics and the Constituent Assembly Elections of March 1994," in Hansen and Twaddle, From Chaos to Order, p. 149. Law Professor Frederick Jjuuko made a similar claim to Human Rights Watch:
There are two things one needs to know about the NRM in Uganda. First is the history of militarism which is still with us today. The NRM is a semi-militaristic regime both in outlook and its problem-solving techniques. The constitutional arrangements are basically a cover-up of this military arrangement. Second, the proffered excuse for the movement is that parties are ethnic and sectarian, but the movement is equally ethnically based. It is basically southern, or even more narrowly south-west based. Most critical positions are held by people from this region. So the movement has the same shortcomings as the political parties.
Human Rights Watch interview with Professor Frederick Jjuuko, chair, Free Movement, Kampala, April 14, 1998.
99 Museveni, Sowing the Mustard Seed, p. 195.
100 Kasfir, "`No-Party Democracy' in Uganda," p. 61. Joe Oloka-Onyango, dean of Makerere University Law School, pointed out to Human Rights Watch that the NRM's justification for a ban on political activity had changed over time: "The initial justification for the parties ban was the need for a cooling off period. Then Museveni developed the theory that we were a peasant society not ready for multiparty competition, suggesting a much longer model of transition." Human Rights Watch interview with Joe Oloka-Onyango, Kampala, April 14, 1998.
101 Constitution, Article 269.
102 The label of "multipartyist" and "movementist" are in wide circulation in Uganda, and frequently one of the first facts mentioned to Human Rights Watch when discussing any person was his or her affiliation with the one or the other.
103 Human Rights Watch interview with Paul Ssemogerere, President, Democratic Party, Mengo, Uganda, May 7, 1998.
104 Human Rights Watch interview with Justice Prof. G.W. Kanyeihamba, justice of supreme court of Uganda and former presidential advisor on international and human rights affairs (1992-97), Mengo, Uganda, May 8, 1998.
105 Human Rights Watch interview with Dr. James Rwanyarare, chairperson, presidential policy commission, Uganda Peoples Congress, Kampala, April 8, 1998.
106 Human Rights Watch interview with Norbert Mao MP (Gulu Municipality), Kampala, April 8, 1998.
107 Human Rights Watch interview with Aggrey Awori MP (Busia), Kampala, April 6, 1998.
108 Museveni, Sowing the Mustard Seed, p. 30. Museveni observed the FRELIMO neighborhood committees during his visit to the "liberated zones" as a student at the University of Tanzania in 1968.
109 Mahmood Mamdani, Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1996), p. 216.
110 Human Rights Watch interview with Wycliffe Birungi, chairperson, human rights committee of the Uganda Law Society, Kampala, April 10, 1998.
111 NOCEM, Presidential Elections 1996: Interim Report, p. 4; NOCEM, Parliamentary Elections 1996: Interim Report, p. 5.
112 International Foundation for Election Systems, Uganda: Long-Term Observation of 1996 Presidential and Legislative Elections (Washington, DC: IFES 1996), pp. 65-66.
113 Ibid., p. 49.
114 Human Rights Watch interview with Paul Ssemogerere, President, Democratic Party, Mengo, May 7, 1998.
115 Karoli Lwanga Ssemogerere, "Towards a Transparent Electoral System in Uganda: A Case Study of the Presidential Elections in Uganda, 1996," dissertation (Kampala: Makerere University, 1997), p. 129.
116 Human Rights Watch interview with Dr. James Rwanyarare, chairperson, presidential policy commission, Uganda Peoples Congress, Kampala, April 8, 1998.
117 Judicial powers were granted by the Resistance Committees (Judicial Powers) Statute of 1987.
118 Human Rights Watch interview with Wycliffe Birungi, chairperson, Human Rights Committee, Uganda Law Society, Kampala, April 10, 1998.
119 Human Rights Watch interview with Justice Odoki, chairperson, Judicial Service Commission, April 14, 1998.
120 Human Rights Watch interview with Patrick Mwhonda, secretary, the interim executive committee, Uganda People's Congress, Kampala, May 9, 1998. See also Richard Okumu Wengi, "Free and Fair Elections and the Question of Voting Rights in Uganda, 1986-1996," in Joe Oloka-Onyango, A Decade of the National Resistance Movement in Uganda: The Human Rights Balance Sheet (unpublished manuscript), p. 25, describing the institution of pro-NRM night-time political patrols just prior to the 1996 presidential elections, a practice called Kakuyege.
121 "Uganda: Yoweri rules," Economist, April 13, 1996, p. 35.
122 Movement Act (1997), article 4.
123 Ibid., article 5.
124 Ibid., article 5 and article 25.
125 Human Rights Watch interview with Amama Mbabazi, Minister of State for Political Affairs, Kampala, May 5, 98.
126 Local Government Act (1997).
127 Local Government Act (1997), Section 49.
128 Ibid., Sections 48 and 51.
129 Ibid., Section 71.
130 "Look for Integrity and Patriotism-Museveni," New Vision, April 17, 1998. President Museveni's comments drew an angry response from former presidential candidate Kibirige Mayanja who issued a press statement accusing the president of trying to influence the elections:"It is therefore clear that the Movement is an unjust system intended to give some candidates a privileged position while crippling the others. This has revealed the true colours of the movement as a political party." Andrew Mwenda, "Kibirige Mayanja attacks Museveni," Monitor, April 18, 1998, p. 2; Karyeija Kagambirwe, "Mayanja raps Museveni election speech," New Vision, April 18, 1998, p. 32.
131 J.B. Wasswa and John Kakande, "Museveni Speaks out on Sebaggala," New Vision, April 22, 1998, at p. 2.
132 Human Rights Watch interview with Yorokamu K. Kamacerere, Resident District Commissioner of Kasese, April 17, 1998.
133 James Kigozi, "One Candidate Only, Says Defeated NRM," East African, April 27-May 3, 1998, at p. 1.
134 Human Rights Watch interview with Amama Mbabazi, Minister of State for Political Affairs, Kampala, May 5, 98.
135 Human Rights Watch interview with Karuhanga K. Chapaa, Chairperson, National Democrats Forum Party, Kampala, April 7, 1998.
136 Human Rights Watch interview with Frederick Jjuuko, Makerere University Law Professor, Kampala, April 14, 1998.
137 Nelson Kasfir discusses the similarities in thinking between Nyerere and Museveni in a recent essay. Nyerere also justified his one-party state on the belief that African societies were not divided along social and economic lines, and that parties would only encourage "factionalism." Nyerere argued that his Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) party was open to all Tanzanians, thus guaranteeing free and fair elections. Kasfir, "`No-Party Democracy' in Uganda," p. 60.
138 One of the notable differences between the NRM's administration and earlier one-party states in Africa is that the NRM does not claim to advocate a political ideology but presents itself as multi-ideological. Many earlier one-party states in Africa were identified with a strong party ideology, such as ujamaa or African socialism (Tanzania) or African humanism (Zambia).
139 Akiiki B. Mujaju, "Civil Society at Bay in Uganda," in Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja and Margaret C. Lee (eds.), The State and Democracy in Africa (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1997), p. 50.
140 Mahmood Mamdani, "Pluralism and the Right of Association," in Mahmood Mamdani and Joe Oloka-Onyango, Uganda: Studies in Living Conditions, Popular Movements and Constitutionalism (Vienna: Austrian Journal of Development Studies, 1994), p. 556.
141 The national conference of the movement consists of all members of parliament; all RDCs; all members of every district executive committee; the chairpersons of all division, municipal, subcounty and town council movement committees; ten representatives of the UPDF; five representatives each from the National Women's Executive Committee, the National Youth Executive Committee, the National Organization of Trade Unions, the National Association of Disabled Persons, the Uganda Police Force and the Veterans' Association; three representatives of the Uganda Prison Services; and ten representatives of the private business sector. Many seats were thus reserved either for organs created by the movement act, or interest groups closely aligned with or organized by the NRM.
142 Ofwono Opondo, "Museveni seeks MP's votes for the chair," New Vision, July 12, 1998; Robert Mukasa and Pius Muteekani Katunzi, "Museveni, Kigongo take top movement jobs," Monitor, July 14, 1998.
143 "Museveni, Wapa picked," New Vision, July 14, 1998.
144 "No Ceasefire, Says Museveni," New Vision, July 22, 1998, p.1.
145 Henry Ochieng, "Parties will die, says President," Monitor, July 22, 1998.
146 John Kakande, "National Conference Proceedings not to be disclosed," New Vision, July 20, 1998.
147 Paul Busharizi, "Uganda's Museveni to Head Umbrella `Movement,'" Reuters, July 13, 1998.
148 John Kakande, "Wapa Refuses to Quit," New Vision, July 27, 1998. Wapakhabulo later resigned his post of speaker of the house. "Wapa, Ayume Quit," New Vision, July 28, 1998.
149 "Uganda: NRM Information Director Dismissed," Radio Uganda, February 19, 1999.
150 Human Rights Watch interview with Frederick Jjuuko, Makerere University Law Professor, Kampala, April 14, 1998.
151 Ofcansky, Uganda, p. 54.
152 Amaza, Museveni's Long March, p. 154. According to the late Ondoga, a senior officer of the NRA, the school moved locations from Namugongo to Wakiso and later to Kyankwanzi.
154 Ibid., p. 155.
155 Human Rights Watch interview with Jotham Tumwesigye, inspector-general of government, Kampala, May 7, 1998.
157 Human Rights Watch interview with Frederick Jjuuko, Makerere University Law Professor, Kampala, April 14, 1998.
158 Human Rights Watch interview with Karuhanga K. Chapaa, chairperson, National Democrats Forum Party, Kampala, April 7, 1998.
159 Editorial, "ChakaMchaka should resume," New Vision, August 4, 1997.
160 Ahmed Musoga and P. Matsiko wa Mucoori, "Mchaka mchaka no longer voluntary," Monitor, October 6, 1997.
161 Meddie Musisi, "Sinners cannot see good side of Movement-Njuba," Monitor, September 23, 1997.
162 See Human Rights Watch, "Human Rights Watch Condemns Deadly Attack By Ugandan Rebels On School Children," June 10, 1998.
163 Moses Sserwanga, "Kichwamba deaths: Government accepts blame," Africa News Service, June 13, 1998.
164 Pius Muteekani Katunzi & Robert Mukasa, "Wapakhabulo is new Movement NPC," Monitor, July 13, 1998.
165 Alfred Wasike, "Wapa opens Political Education," New Vision, July 24, 1998.
166 Hassan Matovu, "500 Attend Kyankwanzi Course," New Vision, August 10, 1998.
167 Article 269(e) prohibits "carrying on any activities that may interfere with the movement political system for the time being in force." Paul Ssemogerere, "The Political Organization Draft Bill (1997): Is it Healthy for the Political Environment of Uganda, Present and Future?" (March 21, 1998), p. 8.
168 Michael Sentongo, "Partists Invited to Movement," New Vision, May 27, 1998.
169 Movement Act (1997), article 5(1) (requiring all members of parliament to belong to the National Conference of the Movement); article 25 (requiring all adult members of a village to belong to the village movement committee).
170 Nowak, CCPR Commentary, p. 385. Nowak continues: "For instance, there is no doubt that former Art. 33 of the Constitution of Zaire, which stated that every citizen was from birth automatically a member of the sole, ruling MPR ("Mouvement populaire de la republique") violated Art. 22."
171 Uganda Constitution (1995), Article 270.
172 Nowak, CCPR Commentary, p. 379.
173 ICCPR, Article 21.
174 Human Rights Watch interview with Cecilia Ogwal, Chairperson, Interim Executive Committee of the UPC, Kampala, April 13, 1998.
178 U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, "Uganda Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1995" (Washington DC: U.S. Dept. of State, 1996).
179 Human Rights Watch interview, Kampala, April 14, 1998. The same conclusion was reached by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, "Uganda Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997" (Washington DC: U.S. Dept. of State, 1998).
180 Police Statute (No. 13 of 1994), article 33.
181 Police Statute, article 33 (2).
182 Juliet Nankinga and Peter Okello Jabweli, "Ssemuju rally stopped," New Vision, March 21, 1998.
183 Richard Mutumba, "Multipartyists call off protest demo," New Vision, March 26, 1998.
184 "Land Bill Lecture Stopped," New Vision, May 25, 1998.
185 "Two Uganda Deputies Charged with Incitement to Violence," Agence France Presse, May 7, 1998.
186 Uganda Penal Code (revised edition 1984), Section 50A.
187 "Nsambu Hearing Flops," New Vision, July 23, 1998.
188 "Ugandan traders defy order to return to work," Reuters World Service, October 4, 1996; "President releases MP, others, held over VAT strike," BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, October 5, 1996.
189 Statement by Anthony Ssekweyama, administrator, Foundation for African Development, "Facts about the Tororo FAD Seminar," dated July 15, 1998.
191 Paul Ssemogerere, "Press Statement: The NRM grows Paranoid, Stops FAD Seminar," dated June 19, 1998. This version of events was confirmed by Ssemogerere in a telephone interview with Human Rights Watch, June 20, 1998.
192 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Paul Ssemogerere, President, Democratic Party, June 20, 1998.
193 "Police Break Up Opposition Meeting in Eastern Uganda," Agence France Presse, June 19, 1998.
194 Sebuliba Hannington, Manager, Education and Training, FAD, "Eye Witness Account of Kamuli Foiled FAD Seminar," July 7, 1998.
198 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Paul Ssemogerere, President, Democratic Party, July 14, 1998.
199 Darius Magara, "Ssemogerere chased away," New Vision, July 12, 1998.
200 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Paul Ssemogerere, President, Democratic Party, July 14, 1998.
201 Statement by Anthony Ssekweyama, Administrator, FAD, "Police Breaks up Mbarara FAD/UYD Seminar," (July 15, 1998).
202 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Jessica Crowe, representative of the British Labour Party, August 18, 1998. See also Ssemujju Ibrahim, "Police hunts UYD out of Nkozi varsity," Monitor, July 27, 1998; Kimera Sempa, "Police halts UYD seminar," Njuba Times, July 25, 1998.
203 James Mujuni, "DP rally blocked in Mbarara," New Vision, July 22, 1998.
204 Adams Wamakesi and Charles F. Guluma, "Police Disperse Mbale UPC Meet," Monitor, July 27, 1998.
205 Mukiibi Sserwanga, "Armed RDC storms scribes workshop," Njuba Times, July 30, 1998.
206 Livingstone Sewanyana, executive director of FHRI, confirmed in an interview with Human Rights Watch that the RDC had interrupted the meeting, but believed that the RDC had confused him with Henry Sewanyana, the former FAD director, and not Anthony Ssekweyama, the current FAD director. Human Rights Watch interview with Livingstone Sewanyana, Harare, Zimbabwe, August 6, 1998.
207 Daniel Saire, "Mayanja to Mourn," New Vision, August 10, 1998.
208 "Museveni worse than Amin, Obote-Chapaa," Crusader, December 15, 1998.
209 Letter to the Editor of Crusader Newspaper from Karuhanga Chapaa, dated December 15, 1998.
210 Bail Bond, Uganda v. Karuhanga Chapaa, dated December 18, 1998.
211 Uganda Penal Code (1984 revised edition), Sections 41 and 42.
212 Uganda Penal Code, Section 41(1)(e).
213 Letter of Drani Dradriga, Resident District Commissioner, Bushenyi district, to Karahunga Chapaa, dated January 4, 1999.
214 Fax from Karahunga Chapaa to Human Rights Watch, dated January 13, 1998.
215 Fax from Wasswa Lule, member of parliament (Rubuga North), to Human Rights Watch dated January 7, 1999.
216 Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, "Time to probe Museveni-MP," Monitor, January 4, 1999.
217 "MP Lule arrested," Monitor, January 7, 1999.
218 Uganda Penal Code, Sections 41 and 42.
220 Embatia Constantine, "Report of What Happened to us in Moyo," undated.
222 Signed Statement of Daudi Kagambirwe, dated 8 May 1999.
223 Aloyius Ssali, "Harassment after a Foundation for African Development (FAD) Training Workshop Organized at Kabulassoke-Gomba, in Mpigi District, on Monday, 26th April, 1999," dated May 5, 1999.
224 Signed statement of Ahimbisibwe Ponsiano, dated June 14, 1999; letter of Columban Oloka, Secretary-General of NDF Youth League, to Human Rights Watch, dated June 15, 1999.
225 Paul Kaddu, "Democratic Party Warned on Conference," New Vision, October 17, 1997.
226 Human Rights Watch interview with Patrick Mwondha, Secretary, Interim Executive Committee, Uganda People's Congress, Kampala, May 9, 1998.
227 Ofwono Opondo, "U.S. warns Uganda over referendum," Sunday Vision, July 20, 1997, p.1.
228 John Ssenkumba, "NRM Politics, Political Parties and the Demobilization of Organized Political Forces," (March 1997), p. 13.
229 Uganda Constitution (1995), Article 72.
230 In fact, Buganda activists were restricted in challenging the land bill, as discussed in this report.
231 Defined in the bill as "a king or similar traditional leader or cultural leader by whatever name called, who derives allegiance from the fact of birth or descent in accordance with the customs, traditions, usage or consent of the people led by that traditional or cultural leader." Section 3(1).
232 ICCPR Art. 22(2): "This article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on members of the armed forces and of the police" See also Nowak, CCPR Commentary, p 397: "[T]he special status and responsibility of the military and police represents an additional purpose for interference, which permits much farther-reaching restrictions on the right of association for members of these two institutions. For instance, many States restrict the political activities of the police and the military in order to prevent the armed forces from impermissibly meddling in the political affairs of the civilian constitutional organs."
233 Nowak, CCPR Commentary, p. 397.
234 The Uganda constitution specifically envisions that article 269 will be superseded by legislation, limiting the operation of article 269, "until Parliament makes laws regulating the activities of political organisations."
235 Uganda Human Rights Commission, Views on the Political Organisations Bill (undated).
236 Uganda Constitution (1995), article 69(1).
237 Ibid., article 271(1) and (3).
238 Referendum and Other Provisions Act, Act No. 2 of 1999, section 26.
239 These conditions are contained in article 74 of the Constitution.
240 Press Conference called by the Uganda Law Society, July 4, 1999. See also, Robert Mukasa and Ted Nannozi, "Referendum Bill Dragged Through," Monitor, July 2, 1999; Conrad Nkutu, ""Is There No Shame in the Movement?," New Vision, July 4, 1999.
241 Press Release, "Political Parties Reject the Referendum," July 2, 1999.
242 Press Conference called by the Uganda Law Society, July 4, 1999.
243 Ibid., Article 271 (3) (emphasis added).
244 The Referendum and Other Provisions Act, No. 2 of 1999, section 21(2).
245 Ibid, section 21(5).
246 Human Rights Watch interview with Paul Ssemogerere, President, Democratic Party, Mengo, May 7, 1998.
247 Human Rights Watch interview with Robert Kitariko, member, Uganda Electoral Commission, Kampala, May 7, 1998. Kitariko has in the past been a high-ranking member of the Democratic Party.
248 Human Rights Watch interview with Frederick Jjuuko, Makerere University law professor, Kampala, April 14, 1998.
249 Levi Ochieng, "We will boycott referendum, pledge parties," East African, May 4-10, 1998, p.2.
250 Human Rights Watch interview with Patrick Mwondha, Secretary of the Interim Executive Committee, Uganda People's Congress, Kampala, May 9, 1998.
251 "Catholic Church Leader Opposes Referendum on Political Systems," New Vision, December 27, 1998.
252 "Kibuli Mufti Rejects Referendum on Parties," New Vision, January 18, 1998.
253 Human Rights Watch interview with Winnie Byanyima MP (Mbarara district), Kampala, April 12, 1998.
254 Statements of Prime Minister Kintu Misoke at May 3, 1998 Gulu rally.
255 Mike Musisi-Musoke, "NRM is like kiddo-RDC," Monitor, April 28, 1998, p.7. The reference to the water hyacinth (kiddo) alludes to the water hyacinth plant which was introduced in Uganda's Lake Victoria years ago and has now become so overgrown that it is choking the lake of oxygen and killing the fish. It is considered virtually impossible to remove.
0 Uganda Constitution (1995), article 20(1).
1 The comments of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Jackson, discussing the U.S. Bill of Rights, are equally apt in the context of the human rights protected by the international bill of rights:
The very purpose of a bill of rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One's right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly and other fundamental human rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no election.
West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 625 (1943), p. 638.
2 Mahmood Mamdani, "What was that trip all about?," The Monitor, April 10, 1998, p. 31.
3 Human Rights Watch interview with Norbert Mao MP (Gulu Municipality), Kampala, April 8, 1998.