UHRC Meets the Parliamentary Committee of Human Rights
The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) was today meeting with the Human Rights Committee of Parliament to present highlights of their 20th annual report for the year 2017. The committee chaired by Hon. Egunyu Nantume received the team from UHRC led by their chairperson, Mr Med S.K Kaggwa who opened the presentation with a brief of their mandate and scope of work.
The report focused on the state of human rights in Uganda in 2017 and activities implemented by UHRC as required by Article 52(2) of the Constitution of the land. Priscilla Nyarugoye, a Senior Human Rights Officer said that the report is informed by complaints received by the commission, investigations conducted, an inspection of detention centres among others.
She added that the state of food security in Uganda, right to palliative care, right to a fair and speedy hearing, insecurity, land disputes and children’s rights form the basis of the report. It highlights food insecurity and other effects of famine in selected districts in Uganda in 2017 from the months of January to June which was majorly attributed to drought, unstable rains and incidences of diseases and pests. The report recommended among many, that OPM and Ministry of Agriculture undertake a nationwide construction of national food Treservoirs.
The commission reported that the right to a fair hearing in the criminal justice system was wanting, noting delays in the production of suspects before the court and prolonged pretrial detention. This was partly because of the delayed investigation by Police due to inadequacy in human and financial resources.
Priscilla Nyarugoye who is also the Head of Vulnerable Person Unit further remarked on the right to security and increased the occurrence of violent crimes. She said that 2017 saw a surge in violent crimes around the country with Masaka District topping the list of cases reported. They recommended that the Police Force increases security presence and foot patrols in villages and highly populated places.
The highlights also captured emerging human rights concerns which include: implications of gambling to the youth, the right to citizenship and identity of the Maragoli community, sexual violence in schools and an assessment of Operation Wealth Creation.
On the land disputes and human rights in selected regions of Uganda, the factors for this challenge included an increase in population, unclear district and sub-county boundaries among others. They urged the Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development to redraw or reopen district boundaries in areas with border disputes.
Government compliance with the UHRC annual report recommendations, their interventions on complaints management, conditions in places of detention, budgetary allocation for the commission and how its not commensurate with their needs.
Members of the Committee uniformly agreed that their report will have a recommendation urging the government to increase budgetary allocation to the commission. The recurrent underfunding is not in compliance with the principles of UHRC.
They were also interested in government compliance to human rights especially after human rights checklist was developed, Hon. Nalule Safia advised that government needs to be called to order. She said Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government should be compelled to comply with the human rights checklist as they do with gender and equity compliance or be denied funds.
The committee appreciated the highlights of the report and urged the commission to continue with the good work.