By Moses Walubiri
Foreign affairs minister, Sam Kutesa, has convened a meeting of diplomats to brief them on the Public Order Management Bill.
The meeting is taking place at ministry of foreign affairs in Kampala. The meeting follows concerns voiced by various stakeholders including development partners about the perceived dangers the Bill poses to civil liberties.
The UN high commissioner for human rights in Uganda is on record for having challenged the Government to revise its policy on public gatherings without limiting people’s freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.
Birgit Gerstenberg said limiting people’s freedoms of expression and assembly was a violation of the African and international human rights protection system which Parliament and Government ought to uphold.
Parliament last month passed the Public order management Bill which bars organising public rallies and meetings without the permission of the Inspector General of Police.
It outlaws the use of megaphones, loudspeakers and public address system unless with permission from Police.
According to the Bill, organisers must give notice in writing to the Inspector General of Police of the intention to hold a public meeting, at least three days but not more than seven days before the proposed date of a public meeting.
The Government has maintained that the law is aimed at maintaining peace and stability for economic development through ensuring order during demonstrations that often turned violent.
Internal affairs state minister, James Baba, last week dismissed talk that the law was enacted to fix one person or the opposition. He advised critics of the Bill to challenge it in the Constitutional Court.
He said that the Constitution enjoins the Government to guarantee both the right of assembly and demonstration and the right not to be involved at all. The right of those who want to live without involvement in those activities should also be guaranteed and protected.