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UWONET Denies Claims of Terror Financing

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“UWONET’s election related work including working with women and youth from different parts of Uganda through the Women’s Situation Room to enhance peace building in our country during and after the elections, trainings in the remaining districts for women candidates including independents and those from all political parties and observation of women and gender issues in the elections has been affected,” reads a statement issued on Saturday.
UWONET members with Speaker Kadaga
Uganda Women’s Network-UWONET has dismissed as false claims by the Financial Intelligence Authority-FIA that it is financing terrorism. On December 11 2020, FIA froze the accounts of UWONET and Uganda National NGO Forum in Stanbic Bank, ABSA Bank, KCB Bank and Standard Chartered Bank on allegations of terror financing.

This was contained in a letter signed by the FIA Executive Director, Sydney Asubo addressed to the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) for consideration. Now, Tezira Jamwa, the UWONET Chairperson has described the FIA allegations as false, adding that the freezing of their accounts has adversely affected their operations but more specifically activities aimed at benefitting groups especially women and girls of Uganda.  This includes activities that had been lined up for the 16 days of activism to end Gender Based Violence and the elections projects.

“UWONET’s election related work including working with women and youth from different parts of Uganda through the Women’s Situation Room to enhance peacebuilding in our country during and after the elections, training in the remaining districts for women candidates including independents and those from all political parties and observation of women and gender issues in the elections have been affected,” reads a statement issued on Saturday. 

Jamwa encouraged the staff, membership, allies, partners, government statutory bodies and service providers to remain strong during the tough time and apologized, saying they will not be in position to meet their obligations at the moment. “Aware of the impact that this may have on you, we plead for your understanding as the situation is currently out of our hands and we hope that it will be resolved soon,” she said.

Jamwa also notes that one of the most affected programs is the Women Situation Room (WSR), a peace building Mechanism by women that was adopted by the African Union following it implementation Liberia in 2011. “As the host of the Women’s Situation Room Uganda 2020/2021, we also want to extend our sincere appreciation to all our members who have been engaging different stakeholders at different levels through the Women’s Situation Room1 to ensure that youth and women in particular exercise their rights to participate in the elections peacefully and contribute to peacebuilding,” she said.  

The decision to freeze the accounts of the organizations comes at a time when the Government is critical of CSOs and NGOs linked with Elections and specifically perceived support to Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, the National Unity Platform presidential candidate.

Recently, Government deported top bosses of the United States and European Union-funded program in relation to elections. Journalists have also been deported while the return of other NGO leaders to Uganda has been blocked, according to media reports.