The Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC) will be launching the Second Issue of Volume 26 of the East Africa Journal of Peace and Human Rights 2020 (EAJPHR Vol. 26 Issue 2, 2020), next week, after releasing the previous Issue One, that is currently available for purchase in both physical and digital copies

The Director of HURIPEC, Dr. Zahara Nampewo has authored the Foreword to the yet to be released Journal that focuses on the rights “Freedom of Expression, Assembly and Information”, and has been availed earlier, prior to the launch, to give readers insight into the Journal. Once the Journal is launched next week, it will be available for download on the website via online HURIPEC shop and physical copies from the department’s office at the School of Law, Makerere University.

The right to freedom of expression, assembly, information and association are some of the fundamental rights to humanity. The international community has recognized the importance of these rights in several human rights instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Similarly, many counties across Africa have translated these provisions into their national constitutions. Whereas this is a commendable development, in the recent years, the ability of citizens, academics, activists and the media to express themselves freely without intimidation has become increasingly curtailed, with these groups facing daily threats to their physical security for exercising their basic civil and political rights. Many are arbitrarily arrested and detained or otherwise intimidated for expressing opinions on social, political and economic issues.

It is notable that traditional methods of undermining freedom of expression, assembly, information and association are being replaced with new ones. In an ever-evolving political and technological landscape, there are new challenges that are threatening the enjoyment of these freedoms on the continent. For instance, governments are aware of the fact that old forms of media repression do not necessarily work: they attract international attention, bad press, and can unsettle a regime. As a result, they are adopting subtler forms of control to undermine press freedom. In this regard, several governments have made various attempts to use new laws to control these freedoms. All have raised arguments relating to public security and order to defend draconian legislation that criminalises free speech online. These can sometimes be even more insidious because they pass unnoticed. Uganda and Tanzania as two of the countries represented in this journal issue have not been spared by this regressive conduct.

In directly challenging the relapse in the enjoyment of the said four freedoms especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic which has introduced new limits on expression and enjoyment of rights generally, the Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC) in partnership with the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA-ROLI) issued this special edition of the East African Journal for Peace and Human Rights (EAJPHR) to highlight recent trends, practices and emerging issues in the region impacting on the enjoyment of these freedoms with a focus on the situation in Uganda and Tanzania. This publication examines the state to which the rights to freedom of expression, association, information and assembly  are respected by the countries in the East African region and beyond.  It is part of HURIPEC’s effort to contribute to a society that respects and protects fundamental human rights.

We hope that the trends, practices and emerging highlighted herein will help to elevate the attention of the importance of these freedoms and influence policy and law reform for improved governance generally in the region. 

Zahara Nampewo

Director / Managing Editor
East African Journal on Peace and Human Rights
Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC)
School of Law  Makerere University

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