) Unlawful arrests, illegal detentions and disappearances during the 2021 general elections

Articles 25(a), (b) and (c) respectively of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights state that every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives, to vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors; and to have access on general terms of equality to public service in his country. In addition, Article 38 of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda protects the rights of citizens to participate in the affairs of the government and to participate in peaceful activities to influence the policies of government through civic organizations. However, despite the fact that Uganda is a party to a number of international instruments, during the review period, the ULS has noted the abuse of the right of citizens to participate in government affairs as was seen during the 2021 general elections. These abuses were quite apart and contrary from the substantive provisions of the Constitution and international instruments. These are highlighted below;

i) Arrest of opposition leaders and politicians in the 2021 general elections

The recently concluded 2021 general elections were marred with arbitrary arrests, police brutality and the torturing of some of the opposition leaders that occurred during the elections. On Thursday January 7, 2021, the security officers arrested over 17 members of the National Unity Platform 14at KakolivillageinBudakaDistrictduringacampaigntrail.15 Thisfollowedthearrestof126supporters of the National Unity Platform by security officers in the islands of Kalangala District and later taken to Mbale Central Police Station.16 They later appeared at Masaka Magistrate’s Court after five days in detention, where some appeared to have been tortured as others displayed wounds on various partsoftheirbodiesbeforecourt17 .Otheroppositionleaderswerealsoarrestedbysecurityofficers and blocked from reaching their campaign grounds. These included Hon. Patrick Oboi Amuriat who was tear gassed in Nakawa and also arrested in Nakasongola campaign on 2nd January 2021 as well as Hon. Norbert Mao of DP and Hon. John Katumba independent.18

Hon. Patrick Odoi Amuriat arrested during one of his campaigns in Gulu district (on your left) and the 133 NUP supporters19 arrested from Kalangala (on your right). Photo by Daily Monitor

  • 14  Derrick Wandera, “Bobi Wine’s lonely walk to election day,” Saturday Monitor, January 9, 2021, Page 4
  • 15  Ibid
  • 16  Ibid
  • 17  Ibid
  • 18  Ibid
  • 19  Report on Governmental abuse, violations and misconduct in advance of the January 14, 2021, Presidential Election and its after-

math. Available at

olations-and.pdf last accessed on March 26, 2021.