President Yoweri Museveni has defied objections from human rights activists regarding privacy issues surrounding digital number plates, instructing the Ministries of Works and Transport and Security to swiftly implement the project.
Museveni contends that, similar to cameras, digital plates will be effective in combating crime. Speaking at the pass-out ceremony for 2,717 police constables and immigration officers, he emphasized the importance of intelligent number plates for enhanced crime investigations, particularly in addressing terrorism threats.
Despite Museveni’s insistence, Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Uganda to pause the digital number plate rollout, expressing concerns about potential misuse for political purposes, citing similarities with the controversial use of cameras. Oryem Nyeko, a researcher at HRW, emphasized the need for safeguarding citizens’ privacy rights.
The electronic number plates, launched this month with an initial focus on government-owned vehicles, are part of a 10-year agreement with a Russian company.
The Intelligent Transport Management Systems program involves installing digital tracking chips in all registered automobile number plates, a move criticized by HRW as unchecked mass surveillance undermining the privacy rights of millions of Ugandans.