For the second time this year, Ugandan authorities have raided and closed down a workshop attended by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists, this time in Kampala.
Amnesty International described the incident as “outrageous harassment of activists who engage in lawful activities”.
According to reports, armed Ugandan police raided the human rights workshop on Monday afternoon. At least five staff from the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, which organised the workshop, were detained by the police along with at least 12 of the workshop participants.
A number of other participants, who were from Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, were able to escape after being informed by members of the media that the police were on their way.
“This ludicrous and senseless harassment of human rights activists has no basis in law whatsoever and has to stop,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Africa.
“We are seeing a worrying pattern emerging whereby the Ugandan authorities engage in arbitrary activities deliberately designed to intimidate and threaten legitimate human rights work. The participants in this workshop had done absolutely nothing wrong and we call on the police to end this outrageous behaviour which makes a mockery of Uganda’s human rights obligations.”
According to NTV Uganda, the arrested activists were later released without being charged.
In February, Uganda’s minister for ethics and integrity, Simon Lokodo, accompanied by a police escort, shut down a gay rights workshop hosted by Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) at an Entebbe hotel.
Lokodo threatened to arrest organiser Kasha Jacqueline Nabagasera, a prominent LGBT rights activist, after she challenged his order to disband the meeting. She was forced to flee the hotel.
Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda. The country’s parliament is currently considering the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which will further criminalise homosexuality and may introduce the death sentence as a possible penalty.
Watch an NTV Uganda report on Monday’s raid below.