The National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) joined other Civil Society Organizations in Uganda to criticize the New NGO Bill 2015 proposed by the Uganda’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima. The proposed bill was tabled on the floor of Parliament last month for discussions. While meeting with the Parliamentary Committee on Defense and internal Affair, civil society organizations said that overall, the proposed bill is a reversal of the spirit of complimentary and collaboration that the NGO board, together with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and other departments of government, have been championing with the NGOs. The New NGO Bill expressly seeks to grant the NGO Board sweeping powers to restrict, obstruct and criminalize the legitimate work of NGOs.
These blanket powers are not explicitly spelt out in the text of the bill. However, the activist said, the ambiguous terms with which the bill is littered could be used to curtail the citizen’s right to freedoms of association, expression and assembly.
Government argues that the bill would strengthen the capacity of NGOs and their mutual partnership with the government, while making provisions for the corporate status of the National Board for NGOs and strengthen its capacity to register, regulate, coordinate and monitor NGO activities.
The government insists that the rapid growth of NGOs in the country has led to subversive work and activity, which in turn undermine accountability and transparency in the sector.
The NGOs are saying that government is closing the space and dictating what they should or should not do.