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Country Watch

The international support for Habré’s prosecution demonstrates the advancements made and pro- cedures taken in trying war criminals. Habré is the first African leader to face charges of crimes against humanity in a fellow African country, and he could face life in prison if convicted. The cre- ation of the Chambers is especially noteworthy because it demonstrates the continued efficacy of ad hoc tribunals as a means of prosecuting war criminals that have since fled their home coun- try. Despite Senegal’s initial pushback against re- peated extradition requests and the ICJ’s ruling, Habré’s arrest signifies continued resilience and international cooperation in upholding the rule of law. Indeed, President Barack Obama’s recent en- dorsement of Senegal’s efforts is recognition of “the case’s importance for African justice.”

* Submitted by Steven Wu

New Ugandan Law Imposes Restrictions on Public Meetings

On August 6, 2013, the Ugandan parliament passed the Public Order Management Bill which imposes wide-ranging restrictions on public meetings and makes staging public political protests against the government nearly impossible. The bill requires that meetings of a political nature with at least three people must gain prior authorization by the police. Authorization must be sought seven days in advance and meetings may only take place be- tween 6am and 6pm. Police are given great power to turn down authorization requests if the request- ed venue is unavailable, if the venue is considered unsuitable, or for “any other reasonable cause.” Police are also given the power to stop public meetings of a political nature, which includes the power to use firearms in self-defense, in defense of others, or against those resisting arrest. Police can even break up meetings involving political is- sues in people’s homes. Organizers of unauthor- ized assemblies might face criminal penalties and financial liability.

The bill was put forth by the ruling party that domi- nates parliament, President Yoweri Museveni’s Na- tional Resistance Movement (NRM). The bill’s pas- sage follows months of debate between Ugandan proponents and opponents of the bill. Five days prior to its passage, opposition groups attempted to have the legislation jettisoned by attempting to filibuster its passage.

The bill comes amid increasing protests calling for political change staged against the long-serving President Museveni, who has held power since 1986 when he took office by force. Some believe he intends to serve as president his entire life, while others believe he is grooming his son, who is currently in charge of Uganda’s special forces, to become the country’s next president. A four- star army general, demanded an inquiry into al- legations that government officials that opposed the rise of Museveni’s son were at risk of assassi- nation. This General has fled from Uganda and fac- es arrest if he returns. Two newspapers and two radio stations closed in May after they reported on alleged government plots to assassinate opposi- tion politicians.

Since 2011, there has been a protest movement criticizing corruption and high cost of living. Police have responded with a crackdown on street pro- tests. Security forces routinely use tear gas and ammunition to disperse protesters. They killed at least nine people during confrontations in April 2011. Police have made “preventative arrests” of protest leaders. Additionally, in July, police re- stricted the movement of Kampala’s mayor, who is an opposition politician and a critic of the presi- dent, as well as the movement of Kizza Besigye, a three-time president candidate. Museveni has defended the police’s tactics on the grounds that the protests threaten economic stability.

The bill is not in compliance with constitutional and international legal guarantees of the right to free expression and assembly. The bill seriously harms individuals’ rights in a country where po- litical discourse is already limited. It gives the

ILSA Quarterly » volume 22 » issue 1 » October 2013


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