U.S Ambassador to Uganda, Scott Delisi has warned Uganda against making laws that would stifle operations of Non-Governmental Organisations.
Scott Delisi in a statement on Wednesday 29th July 2015 says he hopes that the NGO Bill 2015, will be amended to create an environment that supports Non-Governmental Organisations and encourages civic engagement.
Ambassador Delisi’s statement follows an outcry by NGOs and civil society activists over clauses in the NGO Bill 2015. They say the Bill if passed in its current form, would stifle operations of national and community based organisations.
According to Ambassador Delisi, it is important to regulate the NGO sector to ensure that their functions are beneficial to the people of Uganda and cognizant of the laws of Uganda but at the same time, freedoms must be respected.
Ambassador Delisi says the US hopes that the government of Uganda and its stakeholders, including civil society groups and development partners, will seize the opportunity to consult closely to ensure that the Bill clearly outlines the roles, responsibilities, and authorities of the NGO Board and that it is consistent with international best practices for enabling civil society’s important work.
He adds that many NGOs foster healthy debates about how best to develop the country by promoting human and civil rights, and fighting pervasive corruption that he says diminishes society.
The Executive Director SMUG Dr. Frank Mugisha says “The Civil Society should collectively be worried about this bill as it will silence and stop most of our work. If passed into law LGBTI groups will not able to operate in Uganda, even within the limited space that we have now. This law will totally wipe out the visibility and successes we have seen in advocacy for LGBT rights over the recent years.
Government in April published the Non-Governmental Organisations’ bill 2015. The Bill is before Parliament’s committee of defence and internal affairs.
Civil Society say the Bill would severely curb enjoyment of some rights including the right to associate if passed.
The bill grants the Internal Affairs Minister and the National Board for Non-Governmental Organisations brod powers to supervise, approve, inspect and dissolve all non-governmental organisations and community based organisations.
The Bill also proposes and introduces severe restrictions that NGOs say would put an iron grip on independent criticism of government. It recommends jail terms to individuals working on behalf of NGOs.