Uganda Goes Ham on NGOs: Government Demands Financial Records From All Firms
Ugandan Government has launched a crackdown on all Non-Governmental Organizations operating in the country in what is seen as an attack on the country’s civil societies.
The Yoweri Museveni led Government has demanded all financial records including budgets and donor lists to the authorities in what has been termed as a ‘validation and verification exercise.’
According to Steven Okello, executive director of the state-run National Bureau for NGOs, the verification and validation include the filing of financial records.
“We want more information about these organizations, their area of operation… We want also to establish do you have an approved budget, how much is that budget, and who is funding it,” Okello said.
The move has however been opposed by various NGOs led by Livingstone Sewanyana, head of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) who said that the renewed crackdown and scrutiny of the NGOs was a concern ahead of the election.
“It could have an intimidating effect and also have an overall negative impact on civic oversight of the poll,” he told Reuters.
The East African nation has previously embarked on a crackdown on the civil bodies deemed to be critical of government’s excesses in corruption, torture, illegal detentions and extra-judicial killings.
In 2017, Museveni’s security personnel raided offices of various NGOs as the police thoroughly searched the premises, removed documents, and confiscated several phones and laptops.
In a bid to tighten state control over NGOs, the President signed into law the NGO Bill 2015 which would regulate the activities of the NGOs.
The new legislation among other things grants the internal affairs minister and the National Board for Non-governmental Organisations broad powers to supervise, approve, inspect, and dissolve all nongovernmental organizations.
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