Police probe three NGOs over funding

Police besiege ActionAid Uganda premises last month. The organisation, like many other civil society organisations in Uganda- operate under shrinking political space. PHOTO BY ALEX ESAGALA

KAMPALA- The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (CID) has written to the Non-Government Organisation Bureau about the three civil society organisations it is investigating.
The CID is investigating ActionAid Uganda, the Uhuru Institute for Social Development and Great Lakes Institute of Strategic Studies (GLISS) for allegedly funding Opposition projects that the government believe are intended to cause unrest in the country.
Investigators have demanded from Non-Government Organisation Bureau work plans and budgets of the three organisations.

The spokesman of CID, Mr Vicent Ssekate, said the detectives want to understand whether the three organisations are following the law.

“After the search of the offices of these organisations, our investigators found evidence that we suspect doesn’t tally with their mandate they stipulated while registering with the NGO Bureau. The purpose of our letter to the bureau is to obtain officially what they committed themselves to do in Uganda,” Mr Ssekate said yesterday.
The NGO Bureau was established under the NGO Act of 2016 to register, regulate, and oversee all NGO operations in the country.

Two weeks ago, detectives raided ActionAid Uganda and GLISS on the same allegations. The offices of the two CSOs were searched and financial documents and mobile phones of the workers seized by detectives.
Another CSO, Solidarity Uganda in Lira District, was raided and its workers arrested on September 21. All affected organisations deny allegations that they are funding projects to destabilise the country.
Since the raids, police have not got back to the NGO managers on the offences they committed. The affected NGOs are still open, but their operations have been constrained since their financial departments were disrupted by the detectives.
Human Rights Defender under the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Uganda has since condemned the police action, which they described as a ploy to muzzle civil society.
Mr Ssekate said by Wednesday they will have a clear picture of the offences against the managers of the organisations.