GOVERNMENT CRACKDOWN

Ugandan authorities weaponizing Covid-19 for repression - Human Rights Watch

Bobi Wine's arrest has aparked protests that have so far claimed 16 lives

In Summary

• In a statement on Friday, HRW asked Ugandan authorities to release Kyagulanyi immediately and unconditionally and respect the rights of people.

• In the last two weeks, the authorities have arrested opposition party leaders and journalists, and dispersed opposition campaign rallies with teargas for allegedly flouting Covid-19 guidelines.

Ugandan riot policemen detain a supporter of presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, in Luuka district, eastern Uganda November 18, 2020. REUTERS/Abubaker Lubowa
Ugandan riot policemen detain a supporter of presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, in Luuka district, eastern Uganda November 18, 2020. REUTERS/Abubaker Lubowa

The arrest and detention of Uganda's presidential candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi, is a sign of the growing repression of opposition politicians, the Human Rights Watch has said.

The Ugandan elections will be held in January 2021.

In a statement on Friday, HRW asked Ugandan authorities to release Kyagulanyi immediately and unconditionally and respect the rights of people.

 
 

Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine was arrested, on Wednesday in Luuka district, ahead of a planned campaign rally.

His arrest for allegedly breaching Covid-19 regulations by mobilizing large crowds for his campaign rallies elicited protests that claimed 16 lives.

“The increasing spate of violence so early in the campaign season does not bode well for the weeks to come before the elections,” Africa researcher Oryem Nyeko said.

“The authorities can stem the slide toward further violence by ending the harassment of journalists and opposition candidates and their supporters, and the violent disruption of their campaign rallies.”

In the last two weeks, the authorities have arrested opposition party leaders and journalists, and dispersed opposition campaign rallies with teargas for allegedly flouting Covid-19 guidelines.

Despite attracting similarly large crowds in Kotido and Gulu, security forces allowed rallies and processions for the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party to continue undisrupted.

“The authorities have consistently used Covid-19 guidelines as an excuse for violent repression of the opposition rather than to safeguard the democratic playing field for free and fair elections,” Nyeko said.

 

“The Ugandan government should instead focus on ensuring that the security forces respect the rule of law, are held accountable for abuses, and act in an impartial manner.”