Civic Space Index: Clawback clauses and impunity stifling freedoms

The Uganda: Civic Space Index, 2021 provides a snapshot of the state of civic space in Uganda, especially in as far as it impacts on the work of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Community Based Organizations (CBO).

The findings are based on the lived experiences and perceptions of the respondents who majorly included HRDs and civil society actors who were engaged in the assessment exercise. This index is based on quantitative data that was collected during the study.

Civic space is a broad subject. However, Article 38 of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda provides for the core elements of civic space rights. The Article guarantees participation in civic rights and activities by providing that every Uganda citizen shall have a right to exercise the right to participate in the affairs of government, individually or through his or her representatives in accordance with the law.

The Article further establishes the right of every Ugandan to participate in peaceful activities to influence the policies of government through civic organisations.

The above freedoms are espoused under the narrow definition of civic space that was adopted by the CIVICUS Civic Space Monitor. For purposes of that monitor, CIVICUS defines civic space to include the freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression.

These three freedoms form the core of Article 38 of Uganda’s 1995 Constitution. In a similar vein, the UN Human Rights Office defines civic space to mean an environment that enables civil society to play a role in the political, economic and social life of our societies.

To assess civic space adequately in Uganda’s context, the Index adopted a broad approach to include three other indicators. Therefore, in total, this Index studies perceptions on six indicators or categories that form part of the broad core aspects of civic space, namely,
• The right of access to information;
• Freedom of expression, media and digital freedoms;
• Freedom of peaceful assembly and to petition;
• Freedom of association;
• Non-discrimination and inclusion; and
• The rule of law.

The above indicators are further structured along sub-indicators to maintain focus on the core elements of the study.

The indicators are assessed along the sub-indicators on whether the legal framework is enabling or progressive and whether the exercise or enjoyment of the rights and freedoms are enabled or hindered. The section on methodology outlines the details of how the data was generated during the research and the extent of the study.

For instance, it is outlined that, unlike ordinary researches, this Index focused on quantitative data to assess perceptions across the various indicators.

Basing on the scores, the Index provides a brief narrative on the context and highlights major incidents or themes that can help illustrate the finding. This analysis is based on random opinions of the respondents or desk research by the researchers who compiled this report.

This Index is not an annual Index on the state of civic space in Uganda. It, therefore, does not contain an analysis of past scores and rankings. It is the first Index of this nature published by the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Uganda (NCHRDU) that reports on the perceptions, trends and prevailing situation. The data generated
from the assessment was used to report on the state of affairs and give projections where possible.

This Index is intended for human rights defenders, civil society actors, policymakers, duty bearers, key stakeholders, development partners and the broader public audience. It is our hope that it provides a useful resource in the attempt to assess the state of civic space in Uganda and that it will be an important addition to the initiatives by other actors such as the CIVICUS civic space monitor.

Download or read the index below

Uganda Civic Space Index, 2021 [NCHRDU]

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