The United States Ambassador to Uganda Deborah Malac has condemned ongoing arrests and office raids amid protests against the proposed constitutional amendment for the removal of the presidential age limit.
“The United States is deeply concerned that recent arrests and raids stifle the Ugandan People’s right to free expression and tarnish Uganda’s global image,” Ambassador Malac said in a statement posted online.
The statement comes barely a day after a raid on offices of Action Aid Uganda in Kansanga and Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies in Ntinda, allegedly to search for evidence of illicit financial transactions.
The non-government organizations were cordoned off last evening and remained closed off all through the night. Police continued the search this morning combing through stores and computers at the two organizations. Internet at the two facilities was shut down and cables confiscated.
According to staff members who were held hostage for several hours police was specifically interested in IT, Country Director and Finance units.
According to a search warrant, issued by Juliet Nakitende, a Magistrate at Makindye Magistrates Court, Police were supposed to access computer accessories (electronics), mobile handsets, money transfer related documents and bank transaction documents.
But Ambassador Malac says that the raids on NGO’s are disturbing. “Infringements on protected rights under Uganda’s constitution will impede the country’s development,” She added and called on the government of Uganda to guarantee all its citizen’s freedom of speech, expression and assembly without fear of intimidation.