British surveillance technology used to crush dissent for “counter-terrorism purposes” in Uganda

2018-04-11T13:29:08+00:00 February 22nd, 2016|CAGE Africa, CVE (Countering Violent Extremism), Press Release|

From Left to right: Clinton, Ban Ki-Moon, Cameron, Museveni, Davutoglu (CC Image courtesy of Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Flikr)

 

Cape Town – Surveillance technology developed and sold by a UK firm to the government of Yoweri Museveni for “counter-terrorism purposes” has been used to crush civil society and derail opposition leaders in the run-up to general elections in Uganda. CAGE Africa calls for full accountability.

An internal memo leaked to Privacy International and revealed by the BBC, describes how the technology, developed by Gamma Group International and sold to the Ugandan government under the guise of counter-terrorism, has been used to “to spy on the enemy, collect data, intrude enemy systems, intercept enemy communication and also manipulate transmissions”.

According to Privacy International, police and military deployed the spyware specifically to “crush…civil disobedience” and “cra[ck] down [on] the rising influence of the opposition” by “blackmailing them”.

The technology has also been sold to Nigeria, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Senegal and Kenya.

The memo also states that the technology was employed by President Assad’s government in Syria “although it came a little too late when the demos were out of hand but has to a greater extent managed to contain the situation”.

Karen Jayes, co-ordinator of CAGE Africa, said:

 

“This is a clear example of how private companies are capitalising on the War on Terror, and how corrupt governments are manipulating it to achieve their own ends, facilitating the expansion of a global security surveillance empire at the expense of civil society.”

“Selling and deploying products for counter-terrorism purposes, thanks to a broad, one-size-fits-all application of the term ‘terrorism’, will continue to result in the repression of civil society until companies and governments comply with international law. CAGE Africa calls for full transparency and accountability.”

Press enquiries:
Karen Jayes – CAGE Africa
+27 21 680-5177
+27 84 648 1425

(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)