The government imposed restrictions on minority religious groups it defined as “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.
On September 11, police in Kabale arrested and later released without charges 12 suspected members of a “cult” religion (not otherwise identified), including their leader, Prossy Turinawe, for operating an illegal organization. The police advised the suspects to register their organization with the government.
Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports of government denial of legal status to religious groups applying for registration. On April 13, however, authorities in Mityana District closed an unregistered group, Nazareth Ministries, for allegedly carrying out “cult” activities and operating an illegal organization.
Authorities investigated suspected “cult” groups that frustrated delivery of government services. For example, in November district officials in Lwengo started investigations into the activities of 666, a religious “cult” allegedly barring followers from using free treated mosquito nets or taking their children to government schools or hospitals. By year’s end there were no reports of the government’s findings.
Between March and July authorities closed 10 madrassahs located in various districts, including Mukono, Masaka, and Mbarara, on suspicion of the schools being used as recruiting or training centers for terrorist groups. The authorities stated the schools failed to meet national education standards and were unhygienic. Police also said most of the centers were unregistered and raised “national security concerns.” Objecting to the closures, some Muslim activists complained authorities were denying Islamic religious instruction. In April the Uganda Muslim Youth Assembly (UMYA) filed suit against the government for the closures, but by year’s end there had been no developments in the case.
The UMYA also protested the government’s detention of 11 sheikhs, who were not officially charged with any offenses, and called on the government to investigate the murders of four Islamic leaders in 2012. By year’s end, there had been no arrests of any murder suspects.
As in the previous year, the government continued to refuse to register the New Malta Jerusalem Church based in Agago District, citing “security reasons.”