The Ugandan government announced on Friday it had halted the activities of 54 non-governmental organizations, a major escalation of its efforts to tighten control over civil society.
One of the groups affected is the country’s most prominent rights organisation, Chapter Four. The National Bureau for NGOs, part of the ministry of internal affairs, said in a statement the shutdown was ordered “with immediate effect”.
It said the decision was made because the groups had failed to comply with legislation covering their activities, including operating with expired permits, failing to file accounts or failing to register with the authorities.
Some of the organisations ordered to close had taken part in an election monitoring operation on polling day in January which was raided by security forces and several of their leaders arrested.
The election saw President Yoweri Museveni returned for a sixth term in office after a violent campaign marked by the harassment and arrest of opposition figures, attacks on the media and the deaths of several dozen people.
Chapter Four executive director Nicholas Opiyo confirmed his group had received the government’s order to close and described the situation as “serious”.