The Ugandan government continues to limit freedom of expression and association with human rights defenders being subjected to threats, intimidation and judicial harassment due to their legitimate human rights work. A number of human rights organisations have reported break-ins at their offices. Particularly at risk are human rights defenders advocating for the rights of LGBTI people. Same-sex conduct remains criminalised under Uganda’s colonial-era law, which prohibits “carnal knowledge” among people of the same sex. In August 2017, the Minister of Ethics and Integrity issued a directive shutting down events associated with Pride celebrations in Kampala and Jinja and deployed police officers to the venues.
The government has clamped down on independent media and enacted legislation restricting civil and political rights and constraining the functioning of NGOs. On 14 March 2016, the 'Non-Governmental Organisations Act' (NGO Act) came into force, which includes some provisions containing vague wording which could be used to target legitimate human rights organisations. The NGO Act establishes a National Bureau of Non-Governmental Organisations which has the power to blacklist NGOs and restricts NGOs from engaging in activities that are "threatening national security" or “prejudicial to the security, interests or dignity of the people of Uganda”, leaving these terms undefined.
Crackdowns on members of civil society organisations and the political opposition are commonplace, particularly during electoral seasons, and whenever the power of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) ruling party is challenged. In September and October 2017, Ugandan security forces organised a general crackdown on people and organisations resisting the planned amendment of the constitutional presidential age limit. In addition to targeted arrests, the government went on to freeze the accounts of Action Aid Uganda, one civil society organisation that had spoken up against the Age Limit Bill, and accused many other members of civil society that were opposed to the bill of conducting illegal activities in the country. Authorities also imposed a blanket ban on all demonstrations against the bill, and used excessive force to disrupt peaceful demonstrations by civil society and the political opposition.