East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, the organisation behind the workshop, said that police interrupted the meeting and began questioning participants at the event, including activists from Canada, Kenya and Rwanda.
A pick up truck filled with police in full riot gear surrounded the hotel where the meeting was taking place, preventing anyone from entering or leaving. The police even forced their way into some of the activists’ hotel rooms, reported Amnesty International.
The training workshop was intended to bolster the local gay community’s abilities to report rights abuses, said a statement by EHAHRDP.
Activists condemned the police action and said it represented a growing trend.
“This ludicrous and senseless harassment of human rights activists has no basis in law whatsoever and has to stop… The continued persecution of LGBT rights activists by the Ugandan authorities is beginning to take on the sinister characteristics of a witch hunt. ” Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Africa, said in a statement.
“We are seeing a worrying pattern emerging whereby the Ugandan authorities engage in arbitrary activities deliberately designed to intimidate and threaten legitimate human rights work,” Kagari said.
Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and can be punished by lengthy prison sentences. An Anti-Homosexuality Law which remains pending in Parliament, which if it is passed, would criminalise the “promotion” of homosexuality, as well as making it compulsory for all Ugandans to report knowledge of any LGBT person, or face three years’ jail.