Uganda: National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders launches Uganda’s first Civic Space Index 2021

The study on civic space index in Uganda could never have been timely than the present times when civil society in the country is undergoing serious challenges ranging from restrictive laws and policies, intimidation, harassment, arrests, physical assaults, frivolous or politically driven prosecutions to mention but a few. The demand for accountability and good governance by human rights defenders seems to constitute an “offence” in our criminal law books.

The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda under Article 38 provides that citizens have a right to participate in the governance affairs of their country through either their elected representatives or through civic organisations. In order for citizens to fully exercise and enjoy this right to its fullest extent calls for an enabling environment commonly referred as civic space. Civic space has been defined by Civicus International “as a set of conditions that allow CSO and individuals to organize, participate and communicate freely and without discrimination, an in so doing influence the political and social structure around them” Thus, judging from the current trends and events in the country, these conditions do not fully exist to the extent to which citizens can play a more meaningful role in the political, economic and social discourse. It is therefore, our sincere hope and prayer that the civic space index study will go a long way in providing direction to those responsible for creating an enabling environment by putting in place adequate mechanisms that promote and encourage free ideas, opinions and constructive criticisms as a way and means of improving governance in our country.

Panel Discussion on the findings in the Civic Space Index
Panel Discussion on the findings in the Civic Space Index

The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders-Uganda (NCHRD-U) is pleased to have commissioned this study and hopes it will contribute to the already existing advocacy efforts that are aimed at improving on civic space in the country. We would like to extend our appreciation to all stakeholders that provided critical information during the study.

Click here to view the full report.