The Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Kaberamaido, Ms. Alibina Opio in the meeting with Civil Society leaders confirmed that the contents of the Black Monday News Letter are 100% correct. The RDC made this comments during the meeting organized by Civil Society Organizations in her office in Kaberamaido. The two hour meeting between Civil Society Organizations and the RDC came in the wake of a scathing attack by the RDC on CSOs involved in the distribution of Black Monday news letter. She had branded them "Anti- Government". During a burial ceremony at Otuboi Sub County, the RDC stated that the Black Monday News Letter spreads wrong and harmful propaganda and that it is promoted by anti government agents. She threatened to arrest or cause the arrest of those who distribute or those found in possession of the News Letter or those who will be found to be wearing black clothes on a Monday.

These statements were perceived by the CSOs to be a threat to community involvement in demanding for accountability and as such organized a quick meeting with the RDC to resolve this matter. During the meeting, the RDC said her concern is the manner in which the truth is being told and it is what worries her most. According to her the publication was likely to derail the poor people from fending for themselves and concentrate on thinking of recovering their money. That this message is likely to insight especially the youth to take up rebellion and that this would jeopardize the current peace ushered in by the NRM regime. Asked whether it was okay for citizens to know that things are going wrong, she answered in the affirmative but hastened to add that "CSOs should learn to pass a rude word in a polite manner.

TESO REJECTS THE NATIONAL BIOTECHNOLOGY AND BIO-SAFETY BILL, 2012

The biotechnology and bio-safety Bill, 2012 has been rejected by the people of Teso. During a public dialogue organized by a number of civil society organizations held at Soroti Hotel, the participants recommended that the Bill be abandoned because it threatens the livelihoods of the small holder farmers.

The public dialogue was attended by hundreds of participants from Eastern Uganda including representatives of Iteso Cultural Union, religious leaders, peasant farmers The key note presenter during the dialogue Dr. Olupot Gregon of Makerere University explained to the participant what Genetically Modified Organisms are, their consequences on human and animal life and what they mean to the small holder farmer. Dr. Gregon Olupot accused proponents of the Bill and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) generally as Scientist without a conscience. 

During the dialogue, one of the participants stated that this Bill is worse that the Marriage and Divorce Bill which was strongly opposed in Teso. Berna Atim, one of the farmers' representatives from Kapujan Sub County in Katakwi district stated that "we are peasant farmers, we are unable to buy even ordinary seeds from the market, and we rely on NGOs to provide farm inputs. How will we be able to purchase these new seeds brought from America and Europe? I demand that my Member of Parliament votes to reject this Law".

WHY TESO ANTICORRUPTION COALITION IS OPPOSED TO THE PUBLIC ORDER MANAGEMENT BILL

The Public Order Management Bill poses serious challenges to Ugandans in the exercise of their fundamental freedoms and Human rights guaranteed by the 1995 Constitution and in several regional and international Human Rights instruments, such as the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights, the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Key Human rights provisions affected by this bill are the following among many others:

  1.  "Every citizen has the right to participate in the affairs of government, to participate in peaceful activities and to influence the policies of government through civic organizations".

  2. "Every person shall have the right to freedom to assemble and to demonstrate together with others peacefully and unarmed and to petition". (Article 29)

  3. "No person shall prejudice the fundamental or other freedoms and freedoms of others ...no restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right beyond what is acceptable and demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society". (Article.43)

The proposed Bill raises grave concerns about the situation of Human Rights, rule of law and governance in Uganda insofar as it;

  • Seeks to reintroduce the provisions of the Police Act, Cap 303 which were nullified by the Constitutional Court in the case of Muwanga Kivumbi v. The Attorney General of Uganda (Constitutional Petition No. 9/05); This will be contrary to Article 92 of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda, which prohibits the enactment of legislation designed to defeat or overturn a judicial ruling;

  • Grants the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Minister of Internal Affairs wide discretionary and unjustifiable powers over the management of public meetings;

  • Places numerous extensive and impractical obligations on the organizers of public meetings. Clause 7 (2) (c) provides that the notice must have an estimated Number of persons expected to attend. This provision introduces an onerous obligation on the organizers of public meetings; it is difficult to estimate the number of people who will attend any public meeting before the event, since a public event implies there are no restrictions imposed on the number of people who will come to the meeting assembly. The provision places an un-realistic and disempowering provision on the organizers of public meetings and assemblies.

  • Ambiguously defines public meetings. Clause 6(1) (a) defines a public meeting as that at which the policy, actions or failure of any government is discussed and yet 6(2) (e) exempts the meetings of the organs of a party from the definition; the two provisions are inconsistent; the policy, principles, actions and failure of government are ordinarily the business of other political parties i.e they should have unfettered freedom to discuss, criticize and analyze government actions, policies and principles.

  • Seeks not only to regulate the conduct of public meetings but extends to regulate the content of the discussion of issues at such meetings, in contravention of the right to freedom of speech. Article 29 of the 1995 Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience, expression, movement, assembly and association. This provision is an undue restriction on the exercise of the rights guaranteed under this article and aims at stifling public debate on government policies and practices contrary to National Objective and Directive Principle II.

  • Contravenes constitutional principles on the nature of governance envisioned for Uganda. The only public meetings that the Bill proposes to regulate are those which focus on the effectiveness of government and its organs and political organs. This goal is contrary to Paragraph II of the National Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy of the Constitution, which provides that:'The state shall be based on democratic principles which empower and encourage the active participation of all citizens at all levels in their own governance.'

  • Ignores previous attempts by the Uganda Human Rights Commission—involving the Uganda Police—to provide guidelines for public assemblies, and fails to incorporate international best practice in the area.

If passed in its current form the implications of this Bill for the ordinary Ugandan would be far reaching. Furthermore, the Bill would impact not only on the operation of political parties and organizations but also on Civil Society Organizations, Human Rights defenders, academia and professional institutions and on individuals.

Teso March Black Monday event a running battle with Police:

The Uganda police force made an unsuccessful attempt to stop activities marking the black Monday in Teso Sub region. In accordance with the national theme, the activities revolved around the health sector. It was on this basis that the activists chose to have their activities conducted in the compound of a health center III in Gweri Sub County, Soroti District. The activist from Teso Anticorruption Movement steered by Teso Anticorruption Coalition started their activities with a guided tour of the health Center premises. The tour reflected grave inadequacies which included;

  • Low staffing levels
  • Absence of electricity to effectively run the institution.
  • Charging of illegal user fees.
  • Limited supply of essential drugs owing to the "push system"
  • Theft of property of health center by unknown individuals

How the drama unfolded

Given the attitude of the police to always crack down on black Monday events and the fact that the president would be visiting Teso for a fundraising activity, the activist decided to plan for a clandestine Black Monday "operation" in Gweri Sub County. Numerous trips were made to the health center and to the trading Center on Saturday and Sunday. Clandestine mobilization was done with the support of the members of the Grassroots Accountability Committee of TAC. This was done in way to beat surveillance by the Security agencies.

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