Global civil society alliance CIVICUS condemns recent attacks on the premises of the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) in Uganda which left security guards wounded and in need of urgent medical attention. In the early hours of the morning of 9 February 2018, at least nine unidentified individuals broke into the offices of HRAPF and attacked two security guards with iron bars and batons.
The attack lasted almost one hour and the intruders fled only after private security guards responded to an alarm that went off as one of the intruders searched the HRAPF offices. HRAPF works to promote and protect the rights of excluded groups and works for sustainable access to justice for sexual minorities in Uganda. It also provides free legal aid services to excluded groups.
This is the second identical attack targeting the offices of HRAPF in less than 2 years. On 22 May 2016, a security guard was killed when unidentified intruders broke into offices of HRAPF. As with the attack on 9 February 2018, no valuable items were stolen and civil society organisations fear that this was not a random burglary but another planned act aimed at harming representatives of civil society organisations and sending a clear message to intimidate staff of HRAPF.
“For several years now, attacks on civic freedoms and the targeting of the premises of human rights organisations have been on the rise,” says Teldah Mawarire, CIVICUS Advocacy and Campaigns Officer. “The only way for these to end is for the government to stop making excuses and ensure that perpetrators are held to account.”
These attacks have become commonplace in Uganda, mostly targeting organisations working on human rights, land rights and environmental justice, women’s rights, the rights of excluded individuals and those working against corrupt practices. Since September 2012 more than 24 organisations have been targeted in similar attacks. Even though police are often called to the scene of these attacks, no adequate investigations have ever taken place and none of the perpetrators have been brought to justice, despite that in most attacks there is visible evidence that can lead police to the perpetrators.
“There have been several attacks on civil society, which have not been properly handled by the state, and the state continues to accuse the NGOs of “attacking themselves”. The operating environment is narrowing and the state has not only overtly opposed civil society organisations, but has also implicitly refused to offer them protection,” said HRAPF executive director Adrian Jjuuko.
CIVICUS calls on the authorities in Uganda to carry out independent investigations into the attacks on HRAPF and bring the perpetrators to justice. The government should ensure that it creates a conducive environment for civil society to enable work without fear of reprisals and intimidation.
Uganda is rated as obstructed by the CIVICUS Monitor, an online tool that measures civic space in different countries around the world.
For more information, contact:
Advocacy and Campaigns Officer
Tel: 0027 11 833 5959
Senior Media Advisor