Uganda Human Rights Commission
Statement issued by the;
Uganda Human Rights Commission, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Uganda,
Human Rights Network - Uganda, ACTV,
Human Rights Centre Uganda, AHURIO, Kumi Human Rights Initiative, Inter aid,
FHRI, Chapter 4, Refugee Law Project,
among others to the Media
as we commemorate the International Human Rights
Issued on Wednesday 7th December 2016
Every December 10th, Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate the International Human Rights Day which is significant to all humanity and a landmark because it is the day when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948. This year, the Uganda Human Rights Commission, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Uganda, Human Rights Network - Uganda, and other civil society organizations including ACTV, Human Rights Centre Uganda, AHURIO, Kumi Human Rights Initiative, Inter aid, FHRI, Chapter 4, Refugee Law Project among others, will commemorate this day to re-affirm their commitment to the respect, protection and promotion of human rights for all in accordance with the National Constitution of Uganda and other binding regional and international human rights standards. This year’s commemoration will be held under the theme: “Stand Up For Someone’s Rights Today.”
The Uganda Human Rights Commission and partners have planned a series of activities leading to the main event on Saturday 10th December 2016. These activities, include, but are not limited to the following:
1)Inter-University debates involving nine universities namely; Kabale University, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, (MUST), Ndejje University, Kyambogo University, Gulu University, Makerere University, Makerere University Business School (MUBS), Nkumba University and Uganda Christian University, Mukono. The Inter-University debates were intended to gauge the human rights knowledge and awareness among university students. They were held on 16th and 17th November, 2016. The winners will be recognized during the main event on Saturday 10th December, 2016.
2)Today’s press conference which is intended to launch activities to mark the International Human Rights Day and to create public awareness through the media on the importance of the day and the theme which is “Stand Up For Someone’s Rights Today.”
3)A Community dialogue planned for Friday; 9th December, 2016 will be held in Fort Portal and is spearheaded by the African Center for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (ACTV) under the theme: ‘Fighting Torture, Standing Up For Someone’s Right Today.
4)A public dialogue spearheaded by the Human Rights Centre Uganda on the International Human Rights Defenders day, due on Friday, 9thDecember, 2016 at Hotel Africana.
5)Selection of ten Human Rights Community Heroes from various communities across the country who have consistently stood up for someone’s rights in one way or the other, knowingly or un-knowingly.
6)A peaceful procession starting at CHOGM Square (next to Parliament) through Kampala streets will end with commemorative speeches and awards to different categories of people at the main event that will be held at the Railway Grounds on Saturday, 10th December2016. The Chief Walker and Chief Guest will be the Minster of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Kahinda Otafiire. During the main event, winners of the Inter-University debate and the Human Rights Community Heroes will be presented with awards by the Chief Guest.
As we commemorate this year’s International Human Rights Day, the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), and partners urge each one of us to stand up for someone's rights. Let us take stock of what we have achieved and also what we have failed to achieve in the area of human rights in our country, and work towards making bigger gains. We note that during the UN Universal Periodic Review of 2012, government committed itself to developing a National Action Plan for Human Rights (NAP) to guide human rights interventions in the country. The Uganda Human Rights Commission offered technical support to government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to develop the NAP through extensive country-wide consultations. We are happy to learn that the NAP is in its final stages and will soon be launched as one of the milestones in this year.
However, according to reports issued by human rights institutions such as the Uganda Human Rights Commission and HURINET, Uganda among many others, there are a number of incidents and reports of human rights violations that occurred during this year ranging from violation of freedom from torture; freedom of expression and the right to assemble peacefully; deprivation of life especially the recent killings of security forces as well as royal guards in Kasese District; the murder of Muslim clerics; deprivation of personal liberty and deprivation of property, among others.
Some of the key emerging and recurrent human rights issues with serious human rights implications experienced within 2016 are similar to those that were highlighted by the UHRC 18th Annual report of 2015 and they include; human rights concerns in babies’ and children’s homes in Uganda; discrimination of persons living with albinism; exploitation, harassment and abuse of domestic and migrant workers; inadequate measures to prevent, mitigate and remedy human rights abuses by businesses; and the inadequate protection of digital rights. The UHRC 18th Annual Report also revealed an outstanding UGX5,047,671,968 (Five billion, forty seven million, six hundred seventy one thousand, nine hundred sixty eight only) bill of awards by the UHRC Tribunal to victims of human rights violations as at 31st December 2015. This bill still remains unsettled. Noting that victims of human rights violations are mostly the indigents who require timely payment of their compensation, we call upon government first to settle the aforementioned outstanding bill and second, to create a separate compensation fund for the victims of human rights violations, in order to avoid delayed payment of compensation awards.
The Commission and partners urge parliament to expedite the enactment into law of pending bills, including the Witness Protection Bill of 2014, and for the government to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture 2006 in order to improve the enjoyment of human rights in the country.
We call upon government to review some of the provisions of the existing laws which interfere with the full enjoyment of rights, such as the 2013 Public Order Management Act which grants police wide discretionary powers over the management of public meetings and the proposed review of the NGO Act.
We also call on government to step up the fight against corruption which has deprived citizens of vital social services and curtailed enjoyment of a number of rights, and also to expeditiously establish a holistic solution to the land question in the country.
The Uganda Human Rights Commission together with partners add their voices to those that are calling for thorough and expeditious investigations and publishing of findings with the purpose of arresting and punishing the perpetrators of crimes that have led to the killing of moslem clerics and bringing the perpetrators to book.
We urge government to expedite the completion and launch of the National Action Plan on Human Rights (NAP) intended to guide the country in the protection and promotion of human rights endeavours.
We further urge government to promote dialogue in order to find a lasting solution to the Kasese clashes and also, to institute a commission of inquiry into the killings and bring the perpetuators to book.
Finally, the Commission and partners, appeal to duty bearers to re-commit themselves to respecting, fulfilling and observing all human rights for everyone, everywhere.
We call upon members of the public to fulfill their civic duties and obligations by observing the rights of others and demanding for accountability from all public leaders at all levels of governance.
We particularly call upon all the citizens of Uganda to step forward and defend the rights of others; for instance the rights of refugees, persons with disabilities, minority groups, women, children, indigenous people, and any other people at the risk of discrimination or violence.
We wish you all happy and meaningful commemoration of the International Human Rights Day 2016..
Thank you for listening to us.
For God and My Country
Dr. Katebalirwe Amooti Wa Irumba
For: Chairperson Uganda Human Rights Commission