Civil Society representatives and partners from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania convened in Kampala, Uganda in September, 2018, to discuss ways of safeguarding and advancing civic space and democratic accountability in the region.
The representatives noted that there is shrinking civic space in the region manifested in various forms including:
Working in a hostile environment of mistrust by government and donor conditionalities;
Growing use of violence and torture against members of civil society, media and those in the political opposition including the recent attacks on politicians, artists and journalists in Uganda and Tanzania, the targeting of whistleblowers in Kenya and persecution and prosecution of online and other activists;
Violation and disregard of the rule of law, constitutionalism;
Use of extra-legal means including anti-terror, financial laws and cyber regulations to close civic space;
Slow pace of adoption of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance a decade after its promulgation and the East African Protocol on Good Governance after its initial tabling in 2011;
CSO representatives nevertheless reaffirmed their commitment to promote civic space and democratic accountability in the region. They called for the urgent prosecution of individuals involved in the use of violence and torture, and violations of human rights and civic space as guaranteed by respective national constitutions, the East African Treaty, the African Charters on Human and People’s Rights and on Democracy, Elections and Governance and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Other recommendations included urgent ratification of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance by the East African states, adoption of the East Africa Protocol on Good Governance; and working closely with the broad body of civil society in the region that include the private sector, media, professionals, academia, and development partners.