GENEVA, 30 December 2020 – A group of independent United Nations human rights experts has called on Uganda to end the arrest, detention and judicial harassment of political opponents.
“We are gravely concerned by the election-related violence,” United Nations News Service reported Tuesday.
The UN agency cited a statement released Tuesday by Special Rapporteurs and independent human rights experts.
The Special Rapporteurs and experts are appointed by the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council, but they are fully independent, do their work without directives from the UN and receive no pay from the UN for their work.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is running for a sixth consecutive term in presidential election scheduled for 14 January 2021.
Pop star Bobi Wine, whose real names are Robert Kyagulany, along with his supporters, has been the target of much of the clampdown.
“We warn against the impact of the action taken by the police and the judicial system, which may have a chilling effect on dissent and on civic space in the run-up to the elections,” the statement added.
The experts called on Ugandan authorities to rein in the violence targeting peaceful protesters, opposition leaders and their opposition supporters.
Bobi Wine is seen as the strongest challenger to incumbent President Yoweri Museveni in the presidential ballot scheduled for next January 14.
He told Reuters that violence by security forces against his presidential bid has escalated as popular support for it has grown.
Last November, no fewer than 54 people were killed in protests following the arrest and brief detention of Bobi Wine for allegedly organizing a rally in breach of COVID-19 restrictions.
U.N. human rights experts also called for release and the dropping of charges pending against opposition figures, democracy activists and opposition supporters.
Police say they have arrested nearly 600 people for rioting and looting, but rights groups say thousands have been arrested over the last few weeks in what the experts have termed an election clampdown.