Democracy Alert: Nicholas Opiyo
The World Movement for Democracy is extremely alarmed to learn that Nicholas Opiyo, a member of the World Movement’s Steering Committee and an extraordinary human rights activist in Uganda, has been abducted by Ugandan authorities today in Kampala and is being held incommunicado.
Today’s abduction comes after months of threats he has received and after his house was broken into on September 8 in a manner that indicated state authorities were responsible. Sadly, Opiyo’s persecution by the government of Uganda is typical of the experience of many democracy activists this year. With the General Elections scheduled on January 14, the government has reportedly intensified its crackdown on democracy advocates and political opponents.
Opiyo’s work on human rights has earned him numerous international awards. He founded Chapter Four Uganda, an organization that advocates for legal protections to human rights, provides training and support for other Ugandan human rights law organizations, and coordinates legal responses to civil rights violations. Human Rights Watch gave its Alison Des Forges Award to him in 2015, and the EU Parliament bestowed its Shakarov Fellows prize on him in 2016. He has argued several high-level constitutional challenges, and was a key leader in drafting Uganda’s law criminalizing torture.
The World Movement joins other civil society groups in calling for Uganda’s government to release him immediately.