Human Rights Network Uganda (HURINET-U), an Open Society Foundations grantee, recently filed a right-to-information request that revealed corruption in Bushenyi District, Uganda. The results show how Uganda’s Access to Information Act can be a powerful tool for civil society advocates to promote accountability.
HURINET-U provided legal support to the civil society organization Western Ankole Forum, in a case against the Bushenyi District Local Government chief administrative officer for failure to disclose information regarding contracts signed for the development of Bushenyi District Stadium. In 2006, Bushenyi District had contracted a construction company to build the stadium, yet five years later they have yet to break ground. In addition, the district administration refused to release financial information regarding the construction of the stadium. In order to gain access to these government documents, HURINET-U filed a right to information request to find out how the money was being spent.
Through Uganda’s Access to Information Act, Bushenyi District was required to release the files, which revealed that they paid a contractor more than $300,000 to build the stadium and signed the contractor’s certificate of completion. To date, there is only a patch of grass; the project was abandoned after the contractor received payment. Currently HURINET-U is collaborating with other stakeholders to take further action on this issue.
This case helps advance access to information in Uganda, which has experienced implementation challenges since the law was enacted in 2005.