Civil society leaders in Uganda have disputed claims that some Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are involved in terrorism financing and called it smear campaign engineered to undermine the credibility of the civic society sector.
The new development follows a move by the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) to freeze bank accounts of two Non-government Organizations (NGOs); Uganda NGO Forum and Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET), after intelligence reports claimed the two were funding terrorism activities.
On December 10, FIA executive director Sydney Asubo wrote to director of public prosecutions Jane Frances Abodo informing her of the decision to freeze the accounts on claims the authority had received intelligence from one of the security agencies indicating that the two NGOs were involved in terrorism financing activities.
In a joint statement released on Sunday, the civil society says the allegations are not only grave but also faceless and without basis.
“We are fully conscious that these accusations are intended to delegitimize our work, blackmail us and make us look bad in the eyes of the citizens we serve” part of the statement reads.
The CS say they are also mindful that this is not an isolated incident but a cascading of systematic and deliberate actions by the regime to clamp down on fundamental freedoms and citizens’ organizing.
Citing past incidents of state “attacks” on NGOs, the CS leaders said in the last few months, they have witnessed “unfortunate” events including increased attacks on NGOs, media houses and journalists, citizens and pro-democracy activists.
They however vowed that the disruptions from the state will not intimidate them from doing their work.
“We want to sate categorically that no amount of intimidation and false accusation can deter us from playing our civic responsibility as provided in Article 38(2) of the Constitution of Uganda” the statement further reads.
They made an appeal to the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga and her Deputy Jacob Oulanyah “to step forward and offer leadership to parliament to confront this assault on the rule of law.” They also called on religious leaders to come out and condemn this action, and government to exercise maximum restraint.
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