Those that Dodge Census Will face Six Months in Prison

Ugandans who defy or impede the commencement of the National Housing and Population Census, set to begin this Friday, may face imprisonment for up to six months or a fine of Shs600,000, cautioned officials yesterday.

The specified penalties are outlined for individuals found guilty of violating Section 29(3) of the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos) Act, 1998. This section states that any person obstructing an authorized officer, including enumerators and other Ubos personnel, from carrying out lawful duties, refusing to provide necessary information, or providing false statements is committing an offense.

Those convicted under this Act could face imprisonment for a maximum of six months or a fine not exceeding thirty currency points (equivalent to Shs600,000), or both.

"We will initially approach with peaceful means, but persistent refusal may lead to involvement of law enforcement and legal action," stated Mr. James Muwonge, the director of methodology and statistical coordination at Ubos, during a press conference held at the Uganda Police Force headquarters. He emphasized the importance of cooperation in the census process, urging Ugandans not to resist due to religious, cultural, or misconceived beliefs.

For instance, some members of the Enjiri Cult group had expressed intentions to boycott the census, alleging government ulterior motives. Ubos dismissed these claims as unfounded during the media briefing.

In previous instances, individuals citing religious grounds adamantly resisted participation in the census, leading to confrontations with law enforcement. Authorities are determined to prevent such disruptions during the upcoming census, slated from Friday to May 19

To ensure comprehensive coverage, Ubos plans to prioritize counting vulnerable groups such as slum dwellers, night-shift workers, and the homeless on the first day of enumeration, in collaboration with local authorities.

President Museveni underscored the importance of the census in resource allocation and national planning, urging cooperation from all sectors of society. The census aims to gather biographical, economic, and social data to inform policy decisions and improve service delivery.

Enumerators will collect a wide range of information, including household economic activities, education levels, access to technology, and healthcare needs. Additionally, questions regarding births and deaths will provide insights into fertility rates and life expectancy.

With adequate funding and extensive preparations, Ubos assures readiness for the census, emphasizing the vital role of enumerators and community leaders in ensuring its success.

The law stipulates severe penalties for obstructing census activities, emphasizing the obligation of individuals to provide accurate information and cooperate with enumerators.

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