During this period Uganda conducted its fifth presidential and parliamentary elections. HRDs working on civil and political rights, journalists, independent media houses and political activists were frequently targeted. Overall, it was found that the elections did not meet minimum standards, and there were widespread reports of vote-rigging, voter intimidation and electoral malpractice.
Dr. Kiiza Besigye, presidential aspirant for Forum for Democratic Change was under house arrest for forty days since the conclusion of the 18 February 2016 polls. Police brutality was also reported in cases were the forces dispersed peaceful protestors in the run up to the elections.
Freedom of expression
On 24 March 2016, Ugandan Minister Without Portfolio, Engineer Abraham Byandala assaulted Judith Naluggwa a female journalist with Bukedde Television. Naluggwa was covering court proceedings involving the Minister who is accused of misusing public funds allocated to the construction of the Mukono-Kyetume-Katosi road when he was Minister for Works and Transport. During the 2016 election cycle, undue restrictions were placed on journalists’ access to information in Uganda. This practice has been common for journalists covering political rallies, public assemblies, and election-related events. Journalists have been repeatedly assaulted, arrested and in extreme cases shot.
On 22 February 2016, four days after the presidential and parliamentary elections, Isaac Kasamani, a photojournalist with Associated Free Press, was pepper-sprayed by the Police Forces while taking pictures of the police arresting Dr. Kizza Besigye at his residence in Wakiso District. Journalists were barred from accessing the home of Dr. Besigye after his house arrest on 20 February 2016.
The government tabled the Uganda Communications Amendment bill (2016) on 9 March 2016, seeking to amend Section 93(1) of the Uganda Communications Act (2013), and remove the requirement for Parliament approval of regulations made by the Minister under the Act. This would give overarching powers to the executive branch to impose regulations on communications services and technologies. The amendments were proposed soon after the social media shutdown that took place over the course of the February 2016 presidential elections, fuelling well-founded fears that these overarching powers would be abused.
Freedom of association
The President of Uganda signed the Non-Governmental Organisations Act (2016) into law on 30 January 2016, and there are growing concerns that it may be selectively applied to target civil society. Some clauses of the law may be used to restrict the operating environment of NGOs by outlawing activities interpreted as being prejudicial to the security, dignity, and interest of Uganda. These provisions could potentially be used to prevent organisations from conducting sensitive work or expressing criticism of the government. Section 30 of the law limits the registration of organisations whose objectives are in contravention of the laws of Uganda. Section 145 of the Penal Code Act prohibits same sex relations and the courts of Uganda have enforced these provisions, which could therefore allow the law to be used to prevent LGBTI organisations from carrying out activities.
Civil society organisations monitoring the electoral process were targeted in the process and often labelled partisan. On 27 November 2015, the Electoral Commission ordered the Citizen’s Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) to stop airing its Topowa, Honour Your Vote campaign message, which they accused of supporting the opposition. The campaign was later re-aired after negotiations between the Electoral Commission and CCEDU on the content of the campaign.
Freedom of peaceful assembly
The right to freedom of peaceful assembly is guaranteed at national, regional, and international levels and in Article 29(1d) of Uganda’s Constitution (1995). Despite these guarantees, freedom of assembly is regularly restricted in Uganda and excessive force is used to disperse peaceful demonstrations.
The Public Order Management Act (2013) (POMA) was signed into law on 2 October 2013 to regulate public gatherings. Article 5 of the Act stipulates that organisers of public gatherings must give at least three days notice with onerous levels of details or can be shutdown and held liable if they fail to give sufficient notice or adhere to conditions of the Act. Additionally, the Act gives broad powers to Police to authorise or end public meetings. These provisions were used repeatedly in the run up to the 18 February 2016 presidential elections to prevent public gatherings from taking place and violently disperse those underway.
Between July 2015 and February 2016, presidential opposition candidates Amama Mbabazi and Dr. Kizza Besigye and their supporters were repeatedly arrested for attending and organising public gatherings, which Ugandan authorities attempted to justify under the Public Order Management Act. According to the authorities, Besigye was attempting to attend events that were in violation of POMA since ample notice had not been provided and the demonstrations had not been approved.
 “Ugandan elections marred by shambolic polls and claims of fraud”, The Guardian, 22 February 2016, http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/feb/22/ugandan-elections-polls-fraud-yoweri-museveni
 “Another journalist arrested covering Besigye”, Daily Monitor, 1 March 2016, http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Another-journalist-arrested-covering-Besigye/-/688334/3098466/-/d877tc/-/index.html
 “UGANDA: Targeting of Journalists During Election Period Must End”, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, 10 March 2016, https://www.defenddefenders.org/2016/03/uganda-targeting-journalists-election-period-must-end/
 State attacks on journalists must stop”, The Observer, 7 March 2016, http://observer.ug/viewpoint/42972-state-attacks-on-media-must-stop,
 Uganda Communications Amendment Bill 2016, Parliament Watch, http://parliamentwatch.ug/bills/the-uganda-communications-amendment-bill-2016/
“Uganda: Stranglehold on Independent Groups”, Human Rights Watch, 2 July 2015, https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/07/02/uganda-stranglehold-independent-groups , Accessed 25 March 2016
 “NGOs State Position On Repressive NGO Bill, 2015”, Chapter Four: Uganda, 18 May 2015,
http://chapterfouruganda.com/articles/2015/06/04/uganda-ngos-state-position-repressive-ngo-bill-2015 , Accessed 25 March 2016
 Ugandan Penal Code Act, Section 145
 “EC Bans Topowa Campaign,” The Independent, 7 December 2015, http://www.independent.co.ug/column/insight/10833-ec-bans-topowa-campaign , Accessed 25 March 2016