American Jewish World Service Statement on Severe Restrictions on Free Speech in Uganda

NEW YORK, NY — American Jewish World Service President Ruth Messinger released the following statement today after the Ugandan Parliament passed a bill earlier this week imposing wide ranging restrictions on public meetings and severely restricting free speech.

The Public Order Management Bill was passed by the Ugandan Parliament on Tuesday, August 6, 2013. As it stands, the Public Order Management Bill would require Ugandans to obtain police permission for any public meeting of three or more people at which “principles, policy, actions or failure of any government” are discussed.

“In violation of the principles of its own constitution, the Ugandan Parliament passed an unconscionable bill that restricts free speech and free assembly and poses an enormous threat to civil and political rights for all Ugandans,” said Ruth Messinger. “As a funder of 24 human rights organizations in Uganda, we are especially concerned about how our partners, who work and speak on behalf of some of Uganda’s most marginalized people and communities, will continue to advocate for their rights under the extreme restrictions of this bill. In order to cultivate a more just and equitable society, the Ugandan government should encourage open communication among and with its citizens instead of precluding free speech. The passage of this bill represents an extremely troubling turn of events and one that should concern people everywhere.”

In the past five years, AJWS has granted more than $3.2 million to 52 organizations in Uganda that work to support lasting change for the country’s rural people and minorities and to enable all people to live their lives with equality and dignity.

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