Human Rights watch, an International non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights has said National Resistance Movement (NRM) and government agencies are threatening journalists and activists in an effort to limit criticism of the government ahead of the February 18th presidential elections.
Among the government agencies named in the report is Uganda Police.
Human Rights Watch also named Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) among those intimidating journalists.
In the 48-page report, “Keep the People Uninformed’: Pre-Election Threats to Free Expression and Association in Uganda,” released on Sunday, the agencies pinned include the police, resident district commissioners, who represent the president; internal security officials; and the Ugandan Communications Commission, the government broadcasting regulator as the leading agencies intimidating media.
The origination quoted a local journalist on its website saying “I think government intends to keep the people uninformed. You see, uninformed people are easy to manipulate. Cases of intimidation are prevalent…. As journalists, we are forced to cover up. In the reporting you don’t hit the nail on top. You have to communicate carefully. In election season we see this very clearly.”
Maria Burnett, a senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch argued that fair elections require a level playing field in which all candidates can freely campaign and voters can make informed decisions.
“How can Uganda hold fair elections if the media and independent groups can’t criticize the ruling party or government leaders without fear?”