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Amnesty International welcomes court decision on Public Order Management Act

FILE PHOTO: Constitutional court yesterday declared Section 8 of Uganda’s Public Order Management Act illegal and unconstitutional which gave the Inspector General of Police powers to prevent or stop public gatherings and equally gave the police powers to disperse public gatherings.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A constitutional court decision which nullified parts the Public Order Management Act offers a glimmer of hope for the political opposition, human rights defenders and activists, to operate in Uganda, according to Amnesty International.

The court yesterday declared Section 8 of Uganda’s Public Order Management Act illegal and unconstitutional. The section gave the Inspector General of Police powers to prevent or stop public gatherings and equally gave the police powers to disperse public gatherings.

“This law has for years been used as a tool of repression in Uganda, therefore this ruling is a welcome development for the human rights to peaceful assemble and express in the country, said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.

Muchena observed that under this law, police have brutally dispersed spontaneous demonstrations and opposition rallies, while opposition politicians have been beaten up and arrested simply for exercising their rights. He pointed out the numerous encounters between police and opposition figures, mainly Dr Kiiza Besigye and lately blocked meetings and concerts organized by opposition MP and musician Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine.

A number of political leaders are currently facing charges under provisions of the same law, which came into force on 20 November 2013. However, it was challenged by a group of human rights groups including Human Rights Network Uganda, Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Associations, Uganda Association of Women Lawyers, and Chapter Four.

Amnesty International called upon Ugandan lawmakers to step further and repeal the entire Public Order Management Act, so as to bring to an end the persistent harassment and intimidation of people who are just exercising their rights ahead of the 2021 elections.

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