January 16, 2021 – The Global Network of Domestic Election Monitors (GNDEM), a network of 251 citizen observer groups located in 89 countries, condemns the arrest and detainment of 27 citizen observers on January 14, 2021. The arrests made at the data and information center at the Africana Hotel in Kampala included individuals from both GNDEM and non-GNDEM civil society organizations observing the Uganda presidential and parliamentary elections. The arrests of the observers inhibit the critical role of non-partisan citizen monitors in observing elections and discourages citizens from participating fully in election and political processes.
GNDEM joins the call from Africa Elections Watch for the immediate release of detained individuals, noninterference in election processes by Ugandan security forces, and respect for the rights of independent and non-partisan election observers to monitor the electoral process as defined in the Declaration of Global Principles for Nonpartisan Election Observation and Monitoring by Citizen Organizations (DoGP). GNDEM reiterates that nonpartisan citizen election observation requires respect for the freedoms of association and to seek, receive, and impart impartial information in order to promote credible, peaceful elections and advance electoral integrity.
GNDEM stands in solidarity with Ugandan non-partisan citizen election observers in these challenging times. GNDEM calls on the Government of Uganda to ensure that the electoral environment of the remaining scheduled elections are peaceful and that citizen election observers are not further inhibited from carrying out their mandate to promote transparency and accountability in elections.