Kampala; 22nd September, 2017; Unwanted Witness-Uganda, is deeply troubled by the extreme invasion of both personal and institutional data and privacy of NGOs and their staff members by Ugandan security agencies.
On 20th September 2017, the police personnel armed to the teeth sieged offices of two Non-governmental organizations namely; Action Aid Uganda and Great Lakes Initiative for Strategic Studies (GLISS) and confiscated laptops and cell phone handsets from all employees. The security operatives forced employees to decrypt their devices thus giving security full access to both personal and institutional confidential data therein.
Police sieged NGO offices with a search warrant issued by Makindye Chief Magistrate’s Court, detectives suspected NGO’s involvement in unlawful activities.
Unwanted Witness-Uganda contends the forceful decryption of devices was itself a gross violation of people’s rights to privacy as enshrined in national, regional and international legal framework.
The right to privacy is guaranteed under section 27 (2) of the Ugandan Constitution, which stipulates “no person shall be subjected to interference with the privacy of that person’s home, correspondence, communication, or other property.”
Article 12 of the Universal declaration of Human Rights states that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation.”
However, Unwanted Witness-Uganda is dismayed that Police went on to intrude both personal and two Non-governmental Organizations’ privacy in total disregard of the fundamental constitutional provision.
“Government’s attack on data and privacy tremendously affect the freedom of expression, opinion and free speech both online and offline. Government should immediately stop surveilling citizens as its inconsistent with Ugandan constitution and the international standards,” said Dorothy Mukasa, the acting Executive Officer, the Unwanted Witness-Uganda.
Unwanted Witness-Uganda therefore, commends the efforts by national NGOs and the international bodies to explicitly denounce Government actions aimed at stifling freedom of expression in the Country.