There were reports of abuses of religious freedom, including reports of detention. In addition, the government imposed restrictions on minority religious groups it defined as “cults.”
On May 4, police in the Bugiri District arrested and later released on bail three suspected leaders of a religious group known as “Ngiri Ya Yesu.” Police alleged that the suspects told their followers to refuse immunization and public education for their children. On May 21, the district state attorney’s office dismissed the case, but cautioned the suspects to stop “inciting civilians against government programs.”
The government granted most applications for legal status, but denied the applications of approximately 20 groups it considered “cults.” The government defined a “cult” as a system of religious worship, often with a charismatic leader, which indoctrinated members with “unorthodox or extremist” views, practices, or beliefs. Between August 1 and October 31, the government actively monitored the activities of unregistered NGOs it defined as “cults,” including Polo Manyen in Gulu District and the Abengeri in Luweero District.
The government continued to refuse to register the New Malta Jerusalem Church based in Agago District, citing “security reasons.” The leader of the church is the father of Alice Lakwena, who led an armed rebellion against the ruling National Resistance Movement in the 1980s; this rebellion was the precursor to the Lord’s Resistance Army.