Press release: On the occasion of Human Rights Day 2015 in a Nation Where Surveillance Is Ubiquitous


Kampala, 10TH/Dec/2015, Protect Human Rights Defenders from misuse of spyware by security agencies, a call to parliament of Uganda as we mark the Human Rights Day, 2015.

The Unwanted Witness Uganda has petitioned the speaker of parliament protesting the misuse of spy ware by security agencies. This act by security agencies puts the work of human rights defenders in the country at risk. The practice, Unwanted Witness notes is not only an abuse to the democratic principles that are espoused in a free and democratic society but contradicts Uganda’s national and international human rights obligations.

 As Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate international human rights day, the Unwanted Witness is concerned with the continued acts by security agencies in misusing spyware to curtail the work of human rights defenders and thus wishes to highlight the illegal purchase and use of spyware by security agencies.

“Parliament needs to conduct an independent investigation into illegal surveillance by security agencies with the view of establishing the extent of surveillance to both national economy and violation of human rights.” Says, Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala, the Unwanted Witness Chief Executive Officer.

He said parliament under the laws of Uganda has powers to approve all expenditures but available information indicates that state institutions are not spared neither as spyware have been installed in their premises by security agencies including parliament.

This year’s human rights day is being celebrated months after revelations of violations of citizens right to privacy and freedom of expression by security agencies through installation of illegal intrusion malware as indicated in a report titled ‘For God and My President’ that was released by Privacy International, a UK based charity. While we note that privacy and security are not mutually exclusive, continued government’s use of security agencies to spy on HRDs and activists, fundamentally weakens their safety and security both online and offline.

We are also concerned that failure for parliament’s immediate intervention, the misuse of spyware is likely to affect the credibility of the 2016 general elections as information illegally picked from HRDs can be used against them in form of intimidation, blackmail, illegal arrest and detention or cause disappearance of individuals among others.

The theme for this year’s Human Rights Day, ‘Our Rights, Our Freedoms Always’ has come at a time when the civic space is being closed by government through enactment of horrible laws, for both physical and online spaces, procurement of spyware and illegal arrests and detention among others.

We would like to remind the government that it has an obligation to protect the Human Rights Defenders but also create a safe and conducive working environment to do their work.

The Unwanted Witness has also called for the intervention of concerned institutions like the Uganda Human Rights Commission, UN Office High Commission for Human Rights, the Office of Prime of Uganda, Network NGOs, the Diplomatic community in Uganda and the Association of hotel owners.

Unwanted witness Uganda is a civil society organization that advocates for the right to privacy; safe, open and accessible Internet that contribute to the realization of human rights and good governance

For more information contact;

Plot 41 Gadaffi Road, Makerere- Kampala
P. O. Box 71314 Clock Tower K’la
Telephone: +256 414 697 635
Skype:        unwantedwitness
Twitter:     @unwantedwitness
Face book: Unwantedwitness-Uganda