Uganda: Let NGOs Operate Freely – Barlyng
December 2, 2006
Danish Ambassador Stig Barlyng has asked the government to consider withdrawing the Non Governmental Organisation Registration Act 2006 that was passed early this year.
Barlyng, while speaking at the launch of the 2006 Civil Society Index report in Kampala on Thursday said the law would hinder smooth operation of NGOs.
“The legislation could lead to a narrowing of the operational space within which NGOs can mobilise to contribute to the development of Uganda, including the promotion of a responsible and accountable government,” he said.
“The legislation has an onus of considering an abundance of civil society organisations as a liability to society, maybe even a security risk rather than an asset I believe they are.”
The survey report was compiled by the Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Association (Deniva), the mother body of all Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) operating in Uganda.
The research was coordinated by Civicus World Alliance for Citizen Participation, MS Uganda with support from the Aga Khan Development Network.
It was based on four indicators of CSO structures. The environment under which they operate, their values and the impact they have created on society.
Internal Affairs Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, the chairman of the Aga Khan Foundation in Uganda Anil Samji and several members of civil society attended the launch.
In April, Parliament passed the NGO Registration Act 2006. It stipulated that NGOs be vetted by ISO and ESO before starting operation, among other things. NGOs, however, opposed the Act.
Rugunda who was chief guest said passing the law was necessary because some organisations were camouflaging as civil society organisations yet they were not.
“Some can be a security threat while others a liability to society, it is the duty of the state to look for them and take the necessary measures to protect the interest of the people,” Rugunda said.
“Since we are in government we must discharge our responsibilities if we do not we will be failing in our responsibilities.”
“We have had incidences of some few Civil Society Organizations that have been occupied by crooks and swindled money like Kibwetere who started as an NGO and within no time, 1000 people were dead. When they show their evil design the duty of the government is to fish out these bad elements,” he said.
Rugunda, however, said there was still room for change.
“The bill is now a law. If there is any thing serious or fundamental, it will be brought on board. We cannot expect that what has been passed in law is biblical or dogma, government is ready to accept to take on board anything that is rational, pragmatic and makes sense, so do not lose heart,” Rugunda said.