Saturday, January 16We Break the News

Remarks of the EU Ambassador on NGOs bank account freezes

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The EU and its Member States are one of the largest development partners of Uganda. Most of EU funding goes to support government institutions but through their cooperation programmes, the EU and its Member States also support civil society organisations and private sector entrepreneurs.

Civil society organisations contribute to the achievement of Uganda’s development objectives and are important stakeholders and development agents in the implementation of the third National Development Plan of Uganda. The EU and its Member States wish to underline the essential role played by civil society in any democratic country including in the electoral process. Civil society organisations engage in domestic observation, voter education, voter participation and violence prevention. Through their action civil society organisations foster an inclusive, transparent, credible and peaceful electoral process and hence strengthen democracy. Civil society organisations also contribute to uphold human rights, promote women’s participation and engagement, good governance and transparency and contribute to the fight against corruption.

Civil society’s positive contribution to development and democracy is fully recognised in the Cotonou Partnership Agreement signed and ratified by all the EU Member States and 79 countries of the Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP), including Uganda. The Cotonou Agreement and its predecessors are internationally binding treaties which have been providing the legal basis for a vibrant cooperation between the EU Member States and the ACP countries spanning over 45 years.

It is in this context that the EU and its Member States are very concerned that the bank accounts of several reputable and well-known civil society partners have been frozen on allegations of financing terrorism. As a result, EU funding to these civil society partners has been blocked and the implementation of important programmes is being severely hindered. While the freezing of bank accounts has a direct impact on the beneficiaries and staff of the civil society organisations concerned and on their capacity to carry out activities, these grave allegations also affect their reputation and credibility.

The EU and its Member States call on the competent Ugandan authorities to investigate and review swiftly these allegations and unfreeze the bank accounts of these partners as appropriate.

More generally, the EU and its Member States call for the Government of Uganda to continue developing a conducive environment in which civil society organisations can fully play their constructive role in contributing to improve the welfare of all Ugandans and to uphold the values and the principles enshrined in the Constitution of Uganda as well as set in the international agreements signed and ratified by Uganda.

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