Dr Katebalirwe Amooti, the Acting Chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) has asked the government to devise waivers for some of the restrictions on social media and the internet like the OTT tax to enable Ugandans to freely participate in the ‘scientific’ elections.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, the Electoral Commission released a revised road map where election campaigns will be held virtually on various social media platforms, radios and televisions so as to prevent the gathering of masses in prevention of Covid-19.
Addressing the press at the Commission office in Kampala, Katabalirwe said that its every Ugandan’s constitutional right to participate in the election exercise of their country but the restrictions interfere with exercising their right.
“Government has been urged to consider urgently the possibility and feasibility of amending the appropriate law in order to temporarily suspend payment of the over the top (OTT) tax during the Electoral period to make internet more affordable and accessible,” he said.
Meanwhile, Government has been advised to explore the possibility of expanding urgently in the network coverage structures in the country as well as engage stake holders to ensure that the cost of internet is cut to have it affordable to the majority citizens.
“UCC has been urged to issue guidelines to candidates and electorates on the responsible use of social media during the electoral period. Media houses have to offer equal opportunities to all candidates from various political spheres,” Katebalirwe stated.
On the issue of LDUs and violating human rights, the Commission has applauded them for the improvement in observance of Human Rights especially during their return after their refresher course.
“According to the current statistics so far, the training has done a positive impact on the LDUs. We ask the defense forces to keep track record of them to ensure that they maintain that level of discipline.”
Following the public outcry, government re-deployed the LDUs who had been earlier withdrawn due to increased cases of human rights violations during the enforcement of the presidential guidelines on curfew and compliance to SOPs.