KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Ugandan authorities say they will not renew the mandate of the United Nations human rights office in the East African country, effectively blocking the group’s operations at a time of heightened concerns over rights abuses.
In a Feb. 3 notice to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Uganda’s capital Kampala, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs asserted that local authorities have “the capacity to monitor the promotion and protection of human rights throughout the country.”
From now on Uganda’s government will deal directly with the Geneva headquarters of the U.N. rights office, stated the letter that has been seen by The Associated Press. Ugandan officials confirmed the letter is authentic.
Nicholas Opiyo, a prominent rights attorney in Uganda, described the decision as “unfortunate,” saying in a Twitter post that he hoped it was just a misunderstanding that could be resolved.
The U.N. rights office in Kampala has been operational since 2006. In recent years its offices have been the scene of some protests by activists and others trying to highlight rights violations allegedly perpetrated by Ugandan state agents. Allegations have included torture and disappearances.
In one violent incident after Uganda’s presidential polls in 2021, police roughed up journalists who had gone to the office to cover an opposition party’s efforts to present a petition alleging abuses by security forces.
Opposition figure Bobi Wine says many of his supporters remain in illegal detention and has urged the international community to put more pressure on Ugandan authorities over rights concerns.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, a U.S. ally on regional security, has held power since 1986.
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