Guidelines on police searches of NGO offices

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Police searches of NGO offices and confiscation of properties such as computers, mobile phones, financial transaction documents, activity files and data among others, on allegations of inter alia illicit financing, funding subversive activities, planning to burn the city, raise serious human rights and legal concerns. 

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These search orders are obtained under section 70 of the Magistrates Courts Act and section 7(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code Act of 1950, and are granted by magistrate’s courts.

In the current political context and the legal circumstances of their issuance and manner of searches, Chapter Four Uganda finds them unwarranted and an attack on the legitimate operations of civil society organizations and the wider civic space in Uganda.

But this brief is not intended to discuss the legality of the searches but to provide a quick guide to members of the civil society on what they need to know and do when faced with such searches and seizures.