Rule of Law Programs in Uganda and Tanzania
In 2019, ABA ROLI launched the “Promoting and Protecting Freedom of Expression in East Africa” Project in Uganda and Tanzania. The project is being implemented by a consortium of partners, including the Network for Public Interest Lawyers (NETPIL), the East African Network of University Clinics (EANULAC), Media Institute of Southern Africa-Tanzania (MISATAN), Tanzania Human Rights Defenders (THRDC), the Pan-African Lawyers Union (PALU) and the International Center for Not-Profit Law (ICNL). The consortium members will employ an array of approaches such as strategic litigation— the provision of direct legal services to human rights defenders or others whose basic rights have been violated— and advocacy and research for the protection of these fundamental rights.
Many countries across East Africa, including Uganda and Tanzania, have seen an increase in threats to freedom of expression and restrictions on the liberalization of the media. Also, the region has witnessed an exponential growth in the use of the Internet and communication technologies—enabling widespread access to information. However, in response to this growth, new restrictions were put into place to limit freedom of expression in the region. These measures were facilitated through internet shutdowns, website blocking, and oppressive tax regimes aimed to restrict access to public information.
Through overt and covert actions by state agents, legislators, policy-makers, and administration representatives, the principles of freedom of expression and media freedom have been further reduced.
Despite existing Constitutional guarantees in these countries— freedom of expression and Assembly— the respect for civic space and human rights is progressively diminishing. This is combined with a decline in the rule of law and a rise in impunity.
To address these issues, the “Promoting and Protecting Freedom of Expression in East Africa” Project in Uganda and Tanzania employs several areas of intervention, including: