21 February 2013

Uganda: UPC Rejects Public Order Management Bill

Kampala — Uganda People's Congress (UPC) party has rejected the proposed law on public order management.

Through its spokesperson, Okello Lucima, the party deems that the legislation may not confer freed discretion for the restriction of public freedoms on those charged with its execution.

"Human rights law makes it clear that the balance should always fall in favour of those seeking to assert their rights to freedom or peaceful assembly unless there is strong evidence for interfering with their right."

He says the Bill violates the fundamental freedoms and rights to assembly, association and expression.

Lucima said this during the party's weekly press briefing at the party headquarters in Kampala.

The Public Order Management Bill seeks to outlaw the use of megaphones, loudspeakers and public address system unless with permission from police.

Lucima spoke of the law as a weapon intended to hurt the activities of the opposition parties.

"The Bill is only geared towards intimidating and foiling the opposition. How will we expand our parties if we are restricted to this extent? We need freedom for assembly if we are to benefit in the multiparty dispensation," he said.

The decades-old party wants government to revise the proposed Bill in order to eliminate provisions which violate international obligations.

"The Bill provides for the use of firearms to quell demonstrations that are riotous but we in UPC say that the use of firearms is inconsistent with the twin pillars of international law applicable in this area.

"We therefore recommend that the powers to use firearms should be articulated in the exceptional circumstances where it is permissible while respecting the human rights of individuals," Lucima advised.

But the Attorney General, Peter Nyombi, the State minister for Internal Affairs, James Baba and the Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura all said the Bill will bring order during demonstrations that turn violent.

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