This policy action brief, prepared by CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, and the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), examines a range of restrictions on civil society’s fundamental rights recently experienced in Uganda. In particular, these have included a series of break-ins on the premises of civil society organisations (CSOs), in which CSO information has been stolen; attacks on the media, which have included physical attacks on journalists and the closure of private radio stations; the introduction of restrictive legislation, including on CSO operations, the media and the freedom of assembly; and increased restriction of peaceful assemblies, including through the use of excessive force to break up protests.
These restrictions occur most when CSOs and human rights defenders attempt to articulate independent viewpoints and expose government failures and malpractices. They have the effect of making it harder for civil society to play its proper roles and may cause CSOs and journalists to self-censor, something further encouraged by impunity enjoyed by security forces.
Because of this, the restrictions are undermining gains made in recent decades in Uganda’s democratic progress and development efforts. It is in recognition of these restrictions that the CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that evaluates civic space - the level of protection of the core civil society freedoms of association, assembly and expression - in countries around the world, assesses Uganda as repressed. This policy action brief is informed by a series of engagements between
CIVICUS and CSOs in Uganda, including joint UPR submissions, a solidarity mission that took place between 17 and 20 July 2016 in Uganda, side events at the United Nations Human Rights Council on human rights issues affecting Uganda and alerts calling on the Ugandan authorities to respect the rights of CSOs and human rights defenders. Following the official adoption of Uganda’s UPR recommendations in March 2017, Ugandan civil society and UPR Info will organise a multi-stakeholder dialogue to engage in constructive dialogue with the government on the implementation of the recommendations, and to construct a joint national implementation matrix.
On 10th and 11th March 2017, the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) in partnership with Uganda Martyrs University will convening the 10th Annual Inter-University Human Rights Competition at The Uganda Martyrs University Main Campus in Nkozi under the theme; “OUR RIGHTS, OUR FREEDOMS. RAISING THE BAR.”
In 2007, FHRI introduced a program to reach out to University Students by conducting human rights sessions. This culminated into the establishment of the human rights clubs. This initiative, which started in 7 universities, was in 2012 turned into the University Human Rights Network whose membership currently stands at 39 human rights clubs found in both universities and tertiary institutions. The human rights clubs have promoted human rights in various ways including sensitisations through outreaches and debates on topical issues.
The Chief Justice with other invited guests at the 10th Inter University Human Rights Competitions in Nkozi
Among the key activities of the network is the Annual Inter-University Human Rights competition, which seeks to stimulate debate on contemporary human rights concerns. Students research, prepare and present papers on topical human rights issues in Uganda. Subsequently, a panel of eminent human rights experts assesses the papers and presentations and awards are conferred to the outstanding performers. This year’s competition will attract the participation of over 700 students from 30 institutions of higher learning in Uganda.
To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the initiative, FHRI will among others introduce a “Human Rights Award” to be conferred upon the best student in a human rights course starting with the year’s host university.
The Chief Justice of the Republic of Uganda, Honorable Justice Bart M. Katureebe, will open the competition on Friday 10th March at 10am and Ms. Sophie Racine the Component Manager of Rights Justice and Peace at the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) will officiate at the award giving and closing on Saturday 11th March at 12:30pm.
By Crispy Kaheru
In preparation for the Aruu North by-election scheduled for 6th April 2017, CCEDU has today 7th March completed training a team of ten (10) Long Term Observers (LTOs) at Biva Hotel, Pader district.
CCEDU's Head of Electoral Process Observation, Mr. Ivan Mwaka led the observer' training which equipped the community monitors with knowledge and technical understanding of tools and methods of election observation within the Ugandan context.
The 8 male and 2 female LTOs are drawn from within CCEDU member institutions from within and around Aruu Constituency in Pader district.
Crispy Kaheru, Cordinator CCEDU
The LTOs will be deployed immediately in each of the 7 sub counties of Aruu including: Atanga, Pajule, Latanya, Laguti, Acholi-Bur, Lapul and Angagura. Over the next four (4) weeks, the LTOs will observe the pre-election, election day and the post election environment.
On Election Day, CCEDU will deploy a contingent of 50 observers to monitor the election day processes.
LTOs will report periodically on both good electoral practices and any malpractices observed.
It is anticipated that the deployment of these community observers will go a long way in deterring electoral malpractices that have bedevilled the county's past elections.
The writer is the cordinator, Citizens' Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU)
11th January 2017
The Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) is the broadest active civil society coalition on issues of elections in Uganda, bringing together over 800 member organizations spread across the country. CCEDU has since its formation in 2009 worked towards promoting a social and political system that enhances fair, equitable and transparent electoral processes in the Republic of Uganda.
Your Excellency, in July 2015, the Parliament of Uganda passed the Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2014 providing for lining up behind candidates during elections of chairpersons for village (LC1) and parish (LC2) levels. The voting method brought in effect by the Bill was a departure from what was originally provided for in the Local Government Act, of universal adult suffrage through secret ballot. Then Minister of Local Government, Hon. Adolf Mwesige, argued before Parliament that the cost of conducting village and parish elections through the method of secret ballot was too high and had made it impracticable for the elections to be held since 2002. On this ground, Hon. Mwesige convinced Parliament to vote in favor of amending the Local Government Act to consider an open voting method – which he argued was realistic and more affordable for the country.
Your Excellency, while we acknowledge that the open method of voting for the LC I and II may be viewed as financially more affordable and does not involve the same amount of logistics that would be required to run a secret ballot vote, we wish to draw your attention to the following:
By Eddie Ssemakula
Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), a Kampala based civil society organization, has heightened efforts in tracking Poverty alleviation programs executed by Government.
Speaking at the validation meeting held at Hotel Africana, December 13th, in response to a baseline survey carried out in Namutumba and Bugiri districts, concerning the effectiveness of the Youth livelihood program (YLP), FHRI Deputy executive Director, Ms. Sheila Muwanga, highlighted the organization’s Human Rights based approach as the basis for the survey.
“The Human Rights approach is the best way to overcome poverty” she quipped.
Emphasizing the Human Rights based approach to fighting poverty, Roselyn Karugonjo, a Penal Reform International activist and lawyer, also delivered the justification for the same approach noting.
“The implementation of Human Rights represents standards. We need to be treated with dignity; a good government has to provide basic needs to its people. Poverty is the biggest violation of human rights. “
Between August 22nd and 26th this year, FHRI, with support from Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) embarked on a baseline survey in the districts of Bugiri and Namutumba, with a goal of proposing policy actions for integrating a human rights based approach (in line with international human rights standards.) in government programmes that eradicate extreme poverty. The action follows FHRI’s thematic report titled; “Human Rights and Poverty in Uganda” launched in December 2015.
For the survey, the Youth livelihood program (YLP) was chosen as a programme of focus. The programme intends to respond to the youth unemployment problem that currently stands at 65%. According to a state of Uganda population report. Namutumba and Bugiri are situated in the second poorest region in Uganda, the Eastern region.
Among others, FHRI recommended training of beneficiaries, re-strategizing the recovery process, combating corruption, evaluation of area group sizes, and sufficient facilitation of Community development officers, as a way forward. The participants requested FHRI to carry out empowerment sessions to enable the rights holders and duty bearers maximize the development programmes.
On a whole, FHRI also applauded YLP’s adherence to Human rights based approaches to development highlighting, participation, accountability, inclusion levels, provision of capital, among others called upon the responsible stakeholders to address gaps especially in the monitoring and evaluation process so that the programme achieves its aims and in turn leads to respect of human rights.
Also present at the event were Eastern youth MP, Ms. Anna Adeke, Namutumba and Bugiri Woman legislators, Naigaga Mariam and Agnes Taaka respectively as well as representatives from the MGLSD, CDOs, RDCs, UHRC, beneficiaries from the two districts and NGOs.
By Isabella Bwiire
As we commemorate the 16days of activism against Gender based violence (GBV) priority should be on the right to health especially for the women. Women have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
This right is vital to their life and well-being, their ability to participate in all areas of public and private life. Women’s health involves their emotional, social and physical well-being and determined by the social, political and economic context of their lives.
A major barrier for women to the achievement of highest attainable standards of health is inequality both between men and Women in different geographical regions, social classes, indigenous and ethnic groups. In national and international forums women have emphasised that to attain optimal health throughout the life cycle, equality, including sharing of family responsibilities; development and peace are necessary conditions.
Women have different and unequal access to and use of basic health resources, including primary health services for the prevention and treatment of childhood diseases, malnutrition, anemia, diarrhea diseases, communicable diseases, Malaria, etc. And women have different and unequal opportunities for the protection, promotion and maintenance of their health, a case in point is the lack of emergency obstetric services which is lacking in many local health facilities.
Health policies and programme often perpetuate gender stereotypes and fail to consider socio-economic disparities and other differences among women and may not fully take account of the lack of autonomy of women regarding their health. Women’s health is also affected by gender bias in the health system and the provision of inadequate and inappropriate medical services to women. The rights of women include their right to have control over and decide freely and responsibility on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual reproductive health, free from coercion, discrimination and violence. To the contrary, today women are subject to particular health risks due to inadequate responsiveness and lack of services to meet health-related needs including sexuality and reproduction.
Complications related to pregnancies and childbirth is among the leading causes of mortality and morbidity of women. Unsafe abortions threaten the lives of a large number of women.
A number of indisputable proof of women’s action is visible, ranging from their social political and economic engagement, therefore progress has been done in the struggle for their right, however, we still say, much is still deserved in the health sector.
Ms Bwiire works with Foundation for Human Rights Initiative.
Story published by the Daily Monitor
Ghana will today 7th December, go the polls amidst serious tensions in three out of the ten regions in the country. The regions of concern are Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo – where major opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo comes from; and Northern region, home to the flag bearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and incumbent, President John Dramani Mahama. Political party differences, ethnic differences, chieftaincy disputes, presence of violent youth groups and presence of illegal mining (galamsey) operations account for the high tensions in the three regions.
There are seven presidential candidates contesting for the highest office in the land – of which only one is female. Candidates include: President John Dramani Mahama of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC); Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP); Mr Ivor Kobina Greenstreet, Convention People’s Party (CPP); and Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings (female), National Democratic Party (NDP). Others include: Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, Progressive People’s Party (PPP); Dr Edward N. Mahama, People’s National Convention (PNC); and Mr Jacob Osei Yeboah, an independent presidential candidate.
Incumbent John Dramani Mahama (NDC) and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo (NPP) are the two major political contenders who will be competing to attain at least 50% of the votes cast before they are declared winner. Latest poll opinions conducted by research and media firms indicate a high possibility of this election – either being won by a slim margin or going into a second round (re-run) – if non of the two major candidates obtains the required victory margin of at least 50%.
Statistics from the Electoral Commission of Ghana put the voting population at 15,712,499; 28,992 polling stations; 275 Constituencies and 1,158 MP candidates – out of which, there are only 136 female contestants.
Ghana returned to a constitutional order in 1992 and has since held six elections. Today, Ghana is hailed as African’s beacon of democracy; a pedestal that many across the globe await to see if it will honour in today’s polls – which are the 7th after the restoration of constitutional rule.
Polling stations will open at 0700 hours and close at 1700 hours.
This election comes at the heels of the last one (2012) being contested in court by NPP over allegations of vote rigging by NDC. Albeit the challenge, court maintained that NDC had won the election.
On Thursday 1st December 2016, the people of the smallest country in West Africa went out to cast their vote; little did they envision the power of their vote in attaining what President Obama once phrased as “Yes we can.” President Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year reign must have arrived with shockwaves to a man who once said he would rule for “one billion years if Allah willed it”.
Even most shocking was witnessing an African Incumbent concede defeat. Now we know, there is no doubt about the power of the Vote, especially after we’ve organized early and appropriate. Let’s briefly revisit how it worked in Gambia – where, quite notably, an Electoral Commission was also appointed up by the long-serving Incumbent.
The opposition fronted one candidate to lead an opposition coalition of seven parties, the largest alliance of its kind since independence; they nominated 51-year-old Adama Barrow who has never held any public office in his life. He won the presidential elections by 263,515 votes representing 45.5% against the incumbent who lost by 36.7%, and as we already know, unseating an African Incumbent is not the usual way politics goes in this part of the world, yet it’s now getting popular in West Africa, with Nigeria having taken lead.
Adama worked as a security guard at an Agos catalogue store, he returned to Gambia to start up his own estate company, which he’s been running until Thursday when he started. Smelling the highest office in the tiny West African nation. Gambia, which has not had a smooth transfer of power since independence from Britain in 1965 now has a coalition that will govern for three years with Barrow, after which elections will be held and he will step down in line with a memorandum signed by all parties.
“My party will continue but I’m not part of the process,” Barrow pledged to media Saturday when asked about the three-year commitment. “I’m a businessman; I’ll continue my business,” Wouldn’t we all appreciate if the opposition in Uganda became similarly serious and organized early too, in a bid to unseat our own incumbent? Rather than wait for 2021 to have Ugandans believe that the problem is President Museveni “who is not letting the opposition have free and fair elections.”
Grass root work and strategizing for 2021 should start now, classifying the parties that wish to join the coalition and drafting a proper agenda for the country should get on our opposition agenda fast. And guess this time around, everybody would find it worthy to rally around the opposition cause. Now that the President has already nominated candidates to head the commission, the campaign for an independent commission should no longer be priority, instead, opposition should evaluate themselves and develop strategies on how to work with the newly appointed Electoral commission towards public accountability.
The Typical opposition public stunts we witness almost weekly are hardly going to elicit sympathy from Ugandans, It’s high time our people witnessed a systematic alternative government on display. Need we repeat that dear Ugandan opposition? Weekly street run-ins with Police say little or nothing about the leadership this country deeply craves for.
Any serious opposition should have a group of technical persons who can respond, present reactive alternatives to policies and laws presented by government. For all these years for example, we have had the Ugandan opposition unable to front candidates in more than 20 constituencies, relentlessly leaving the ruling party unopposed In the new districts of Kagadi, Kibaale, Rubanda, Omoro and Kakumiro for example, NRM literally swept everything.
Now with examples of Nigeria and Gambia, Ugandan opposition are left with no excuse rather than exhibit their readiness to deliver change to a country that has long relied on a polarized opposition to deliver real change. Constitutionally speaking, the President will not be legible to stand again, which means NRM will have to present a new candidate, and so, the opposition better prepare an equal match.
I am now beginning to personally refrain from all discourse focusing on President Museveni, and I suggest that all political discussion today endeavor to refer to him in the past. As we all, alongside opposition, watch Gambia smile, let’s begin evaluating a suitable joint presidential candidate for 2021. Shall we, dear Ugandan opposition?
The writer is a Project Associate at Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy.
For Immediate Release | November 28, 2016
The Foundation for Human Rights Intiative (FHRI), condemns the arbitrary killings in Kasese and calls for the timely investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators without bias. The Constitutional duty of the state is to protect persons and their property.
Civil society acting together with other actors including religious leaders are concerned about the ongoing clashes and unrest reported in the Rwenzori region, particularly in Kasese district. The violence that occurred over this weekend has led to countless deaths, destruction to property, internal displacement and segregation within the Rwenzori Region. Needless to mention, some members of the Rwenzururu cultural leadership in that region have been arrested.
“FHRI also calls upon the Government to address the underlying causes of the unrest: issues like marginalization, poverty and impunity, access to land,” says Dr Livingstone Sewanyana, the Executive Director Foundation For Human Rights Intiative.
The post February 18th 2016 engagements between various stakeholders including civil society, religious leaders, political parties and the people of the Rwenzori demonstrated the people’s desire to live in peace and harmony. These efforts are rendered ineffective with such sporadic actions that cause massive loss of life and property.
All parties involved must restrain themselves from actions of violence because the future that they all desire will not be built by bloodshed and lawlessness but by genuine efforts at peace. Parties must at this stage therefore commit to resolving the conflict nonviolently, while protecting human lives and property.
We urge the Government to conduct a public hearing in Kasese to uncover the underlying causes of the conflict and release reports of previous probes to the public.
For God and my Country
For a new Electoral Commission (EC) team to fully exercise its constitutional mandate to the satisfaction of every Ugandan, there is need for comprehensive electoral reforms.
President Yoweri Museveni has nominated six candidates to head the Electoral Commission (EC).
Court of Appeal Judge Simon Mugenyi Byabakama has been appointed Electoral Commission chairperson. Others include: Hajjat Aisha Lubega (vice chairperson), Commissioners Peter Emorut, former Kajara MP Steven Tashobya, Prof George Piwang and Mustapha Ssebaggala Kigozi. The nominees will appear before the Parliamentary appointments committee for vetting. Kaheru explained that the reforms would strengthen the institutional framework of the EC to effectively deliver on its mandated without any form of pressures.
Kaheru explained that the reforms would strengthen the institutional framework of the EC to effectively deliver on its mandated without any form of pressures.
“I think what Ugandans will continue to ask themselves is how consultative and inclusive the process of appointing the EC was; given the sentiments around the inclusivity of the process that have been raised by different quotas,” Kaheru said. He argued that various key interest stakeholders would have very much wanted to be part of the consultative processes, leading up to the identification of the new EC. -