Youth Line Forum in conjunction with The Alternative UG and Twerwaneho Listener’s Club have launched ‘Claim Your Space’ project aimed at bringing together civil society organisations to reclaim the shrinking civic space.
These activists that have held the launch virtually noted thatCivil Society is the oxygen for democracy adding that it is time to counter restrictive anti-NGO measures that have been instituted by government and other actors.
Youth Line Forum (YLF) Technical Advisor, Ruth Asiimwesaid that there is need to work together to push back against the shrinking civic space through lobbying, protests, strategic litigation and cross-sectorial coalitions.
Civic space is under threat globally, not just by rogue regimes that are hell bent on entrenching autocracy and suppressing citizen voices but also by the COVID19 pandemic. The onslaught of the corona virus is not just a public health issue but a civic concern.
“The imposition of curfews, closure of Facebook, lockdowns, suppression of freedoms such as assembly and physical association are all a test of democracy, human rights and civil liberties. For Uganda, civic space is being threatened by not only the pandemic but also state fear of civic actors in governance and human rights sector,” Asiimwe said.
She added that the idea of Internet tax is very wrong and should make it not a palatable idea.
YLF Programs Coordinator, Robert Musana said that Civil society should now push government to opening up of Facebook that is a medium of expression and engagement for many citizens especially the Youth.
The Executive Director, Alternative Ug, Norman Tumuhimbise challenged the Government to re-examine its fiscal policy such as the 12% tax levied on the internet and the high internet costs which translate into a violation of people’s rights to internet access.
Tumuhimbise said that internet is a prerequisite to digital assembly, association and communication most especially in the COVID-19 era.
“We encourage Ugandans to challenge in courts of law the 1935 Public Health Act that is being used for COVID-19 response because it is archaic, outdated and out of touch with the existential realities of a 21st century nation,” Tumuhimbise said.