As the delegates from UN, humanitarian agencies and governments’ representatives arrive in Kampala today for the global solidarity summit on refugees on Friday, the Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) has urged world leaders to reiterate their collective responsibility to end violence and instabilities. CCEDU, an umbrella non-governmental organization for groups advocating for electoral democracy, states that violence and instabilities are the main causes of refugee outflows.
“Beyond pledging support, participating delegates from across the world should make use of the summit to reiterate their collective responsibility to ending violence and instability, which are the main causes of refugee outflows,” CCEDU, notes in a statement issued by its coordinator, Crispin Kaheru.
The summit, the organization says, should be a major milestone to change the narrative ‘from mere humanitarian assistance to long-term development of refugee host countries like Uganda.' “Aware that each one of us is a candidate for asylum seeking in one way or another, let this summit be an inspiration for each of us to contribute in our own humble ways to the cause of refugees who are hosted in Uganda,” it states. Currently hosting over 1.2 million refugees of which 900,000 are South Sudanese.
Uganda needs $8b (sh28 trillion) to continue caring for the displaced and host communities in the next four years. Others are from DRC, Burundi, Somalia, Ethiopia and Rwanda. Uganda is seeking to raise $2b (sh7.1 trillion) at the summit to be jointly hosted by President Yoweri Museveni and UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres.
A fresh flow of South Sudanese refugees into Uganda through the northern region started last July following renewed fighting between two factions of government forces – one loyal to president Salva Kiir and another backing his vice Riek Machar. A fresh conflict propagated along tribal lines erupted hardly a year after Kiir and Machar signed a comprehensive agreement in August 2015 to end the fighting that started in December 2013.
The unending fighting between forces under the command of the two principals in the country’s divisive politics has wrecked the early years of political independence of the world’s newest nation and denied her a chance to enjoy the fruits of self-rule achieved from Sudan in 2011.
About 3.5 million people have been forced out of their homes and thousands killed in the brutal conflict in a country blessed with minerals, including huge petroleum deposits, but cursed with selfish leaders.
But the endless stream of South Sudan refugees since last July into Uganda has stretched service delivery to breaking point in the host communities, and threatened to erode the generosity of Ugandans towards the exiles. With about 2,000 refugees arriving in Uganda from South Sudan every day, it is expected that the country will receive a further 400,000 exiles by the end of the year.
Story Published by The Newvision
By Isabella Bwiire
Uganda ought to adopt non-custodial sentences that are relevant to the country, especially since we are faced with overcrowded prison conditions and limited budgetary allocations to run prison institutions.
In a number of countries in Africa, prisons are holding perhaps as high as three times the official capacity. This has resulted in overcrowding, which in turn has led to outbreak of diseases and making it easy to spread infections.
There is no meaningful rehabilitation that can take place in these circumstances and nothing is done to prepare the convicted person for his eventual release to society. Most importantly, however, it has come to be appreciated that imprisonment is an expensive exercise; prisoners have certain rights which must be provided by central government.
But as we know, there are very few countries in Africa with the financial resources to do this. Even where financial resources are available, the prison budget is usually accorded low priority. Several years of research by criminologists and sociologists world over have shown that imprisonment does not curb recidivism. On the contrary imprisonment is likely to harden even a non – serious offender. The trend world over, particularly in the case of first and youthful offenders, is to shift away from punitive and retributive practices towards rehabilitative, educational restoratative options.
We should admit that there is a category of offender who should be incarcerated in order to protect society. Persons who commit serious offences such as murder, rape, robberies committed in circumstances of aggravation, traffic in hard drugs etc, are deserving of incarceration and in some cases for long periods. In such cases, it is the protection of society aspect of punishment that should be emphasized While most countries in Africa face the problem of overcrowding in their prisons, the reality is that most of the persons to be found in these institutions are non-serious offenders who perhaps should never have been sent there in the first instance. And in other cases, accused persons end up serving as a consequence of failure to pay a fine.
If appropriate sentencing options were to be made available to the courts, fewer people would be sentenced to effective prison sentences. This would be very beneficial to the convicted person and to society. The convicted person would avoid going to prison where he is likely to be contaminated by the worst elements in society. He continues to fend for his family, avoids stigma that normally flows from imprisonment, for society, there is considerable saving on the prison budget.
The convicted person is more likely than not to become a law-abiding citizen and a person sentences to imprisonment could become hardened during this period of incarceration and society would still have to live with him on his release. It is against this background that a number of developed and developing countries have embarked on programmes to divert convicted persons from prison and in some cases from prosecution. The rationale is to punish such persons for the wrongs done to society but at the same time ensure that they are kept out of prison. These programmes have shown that while some funding is necessary initially set up such schemes, it is less expensive to keep non-serious offenders out of prison than in prison.
With the adoption of suitable dispositions on non-custodial alternatives, the problem of overcrowding in our prisons could considerably be reduced. In conclusion, there are a number of situations where a prosecution is really not in the interests of the accused or the criminal justice system. It becomes necessary in such cases to divert the accused person from the formal criminal justice system but still ensure that the accused person is made to pay reparations for his wrongs in society. Diversion is intended to complement and not replace community service order.
This type of programme can be implemented with few resources. There are other non-custodial sentences such as fines or wholly suspended prison sentences which are not always fully utilized by the court. I do not believe however that these really call for comment. In society, there is need for several options. The whole problem of criminality requires a multi-prolonged approach. It needs to be tackled from different angles using different approaches. Writer works with the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative
The people of Kibanda North will have to go back to the polls again and the taxpayers will part with about 500 millions to have this election out of the way. Its high time government sees the relevance and hears the cry of Ugandans advocating for both political and electoral reforms.
Kibanda North is not the only case where by-elections are coming our way due to electoral malpractices. For Kibanda it was just the additional name Tampo that is taking us back to the polls were complainant Sam Otada said. Amin was nominated as Taban Idi Amin Tampo and in the voters Register of Bweyale (I-K) Polling station at Bweyale COU in central ward, Bweyale town council, Kibanda North in Kiryandongo district, the registered voter’s name is Idi Taban Amin. This contravenes the Parliamentary Elections Act 2005. More by elections are coming our way and some have already happened due to negligence. A Similar Wakayima Nsereko Vs. Kasule Robert representing Nansana Municipality and Electoral Commission vs. Ayena Odongo .Others who have caused us millions of money are Hon.Wetongoola Rehema who presented fake academic papers on nomination day, Kagoma Walyomu, Moses, Katuramu’s PWDS all dispensed money during the 2016 elections and now it’s the taxpayer to pay for these mistakes.
Where is the missing link is it the Returning officers who don’t pay attention to details as they nominate candidates, the National Council of higher education that is compromised? Or it’s the laxity in the law that lets off anyone of the hook so easily when it comes to electoral malpractices.
In Kenya once one is found guilty all the money that government spent on that election making it hard for candidates to involve in electoral malpractices.
Electoral malpractices weigh negatively on legitimacy. In the face of manipulation of results, the eventual winners of the elections are viewed as political flunkies, toddies and mere stooges. They are essentially devoid of the true support and recognition of the people. They might be in office yet the population prays daily for their failure. Electoral malpractices appear to plant the incandescent seed of political apathy leaving a good number of qualified voters disfranchised.
Mr.Kagole Kivumbi, shares same sentiments when he told parliament the as judiciary we encourage alternative dispute resolution rather than court battles that are long protracted and expensive. Peter Sematimba one of the victims shares his frustration, you need good lawyers who cost not less than 50m and the process distracts you from being able to concentrate on your constitution work, Helen Adoa supplements that court cases are troubling it would be better to have alternatives as written by Ibrahim Manzil.
Malachy Ugwuanyi a legal practitioner in Nigeria wrote; Electoral malpractices seem to water the xerophyte plant of political godfathers. This is a pitiable situation, where persons or political leviathans convert politics to total business.it involves a situation where rich person/persons sponsor a candidate, but proceeds to use or employ all forms of malpractices to make sure their candidate emerge victorious in the elections, to the detriment of the people. The right to vote is rather a public function conferred upon the citizen for reason of social expediency. Evidence reveals that the strict adherence to democratic values and ideals will bring about good governance in the country.
It’s now one year and four months ever since Uganda went into general elections. There is no sign of government embarking on electoral reforms; I would like to invite government to start on the process of electoral reforms by establishing the constitution review commission before it’s too late. In 2015 electoral commission had to change dates for nominations to allow the commission familiarize itself with the new law on nomination fees and this happened in during the electoral period. Electoral Institute for South Africa representing expertise in electoral issues indicates that one of the threats to electoral integrity is the late enactment of laws and regulations, tampering with legal provisions too close to the election has a negative impact on electoral integrity and should certainly be avoided.
BY FARIDAH LULE
PROJECT ASSOCIATE ELECTORAL PROCESS OBSERVATION
The Heads of Missions of the EU Member States, the EU Delegation and Norway have announced Pamela Judith Angwech as winner of the EU Human Rights Defenders Award 2017.
The annual European Union Human Rights Defenders Award (EU HRD), now in its sixth year, is granted by the EU and its member states in Uganda, and Norway, to recognise the achievements of Human Rights Defenders in Uganda.
Angwech is Founder and Executive Director of the Gulu Women’s Economic Development & Globalization (GWED-G), the region’s largest grassroots human rights organization, focused on women and youth, since in 2004. GWED-G has programs in a number of domains, including health, human rights, peace building, economic empowerment and livelihoods, psycho-social support and counseling, and research and advocacy.
Angwech was recognised for her leadership role to promote the rights of war-affected women and girls who are suffering as a result of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) war in Northern Uganda. She is at the forefront of advancing women’s and girl’s rights and gender equality in the district of Gulu, Nwoya and Amuru through empowering grassroots groups.
Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) are individuals who, individually or with others, act to promote and protect universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms. These include civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights. The work of HRDs has a positive impact on a country’s development and is essential for encouraging the respect for human rights as recognised by international human rights standards and agreements. HRDs need to be protected from interference and reprisals while executing their work. The HRDs rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly need to be safeguarded to enable them to defend others.
Past winners of the EU HRD Award include Gerald Kankya (2012) of Twerwaneho Listeners Club, Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala (2013) former Coordinator of Human Rights Network for Journalists (HRNJ), the three joint winners (2014) Gladys Canogura of Kitgum Women Peace Initiative, Assistant Commissioner of Police Christine Alalo, Head of the Uganda Police Family and Child Protection Unit, and Mr Mohammed Ndifuna, Director of the Human Rights Network Uganda, Dr. Livingstone Sewanyana (2015), Founder & Executive Director of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) and Robert Sempala (2016) of the Human Rights Network of Journalists (HRNJ).
This year’s winner, Angwech, was hailed for leading an organisation that supports over 400 women’s groups to ensure women and girls have equal rights to resources and livelihoods and are given a political voice and her extensive experience with community-based human rights policy and post-conflict development.
The committee noted her strong and sharp voice on zero tolerance to sexual and gender based violence following up on cases within the judiciary system. She has been working on this evil over the past few years and has cumulatively responded to 670 GBV cases- most of them with positive results for the victims.
European Union Human Rights Defenders Award (EU HRD), winners in Uganda 2017
She was hailed for her visibility and audacity to speak on behalf of the voiceless in various human rights platforms at local and national level, including the International Conference for Great Lakes Region, the UN1325SCR Coalition platform, the regional GBV and District Working Groups on Gender and VAWG, UWONET, CEWIGO and HURINET.
The 2017 edition of the award ceremony was hosted last week under the auspices of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Uganda.
“It was the start of a long journey of more than 10 years, without knowing where it would bring you,” remarked Henk Jan Bakker, the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Uganda at the event.
“It seems to me that you knew very well that the road you took is not important, but the traces you leave behind. And you’ve left many, many traces behind, showing the way forward. Your voice is loud and clear, not only in Northern Uganda but also in various human rights platforms in Uganda and abroad. We, your European allies, are listening to you and we remain committed as your diplomatic Human Rights Defenders advocates”.
Four other human rights defenders were recognised as finalists
- Rose Mary Jane Nangobi: Founder and Director of Slum Women’s Initiative for Development in Jinja, an initiative saving women from being evicted from land on which they dwelled.
- Adrian Jjuko: Ugandan lawyer and Executive Director of the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF). Adrian is a leading figure in the legal struggle against discrimination in Uganda.
- Crispin Kaheru: A human rights defender and coordinator of CEDDU, Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda.
- Gard Benda Ntegyereize: Executive Director of World Voices Uganda (WVU), a locally founded NGO that strives to respond to human rights violations. Gard spearheaded campaigns against land grabbing in the Albertine region despite threats against his life from land grabbers and speculators.
Story was published by The Independent
It is an emotional moment. Firstly, because of the honour and reverence of being a nominee of the European Union Human Rights Defenders Award 2017. I know there are many people of character, dignity, intelligence, intellect, activism, diplomacy, patriotism, service, energy, name it – that would naturally deserve this kind of honour – than Me.
In fact, I know multitudes of Ugandan and foreign people who, because of their unwavering commitment to fight for rights in this – our dear nation, are more worthy to have received this nomination; not even just once, but every day of their lives – than Me. In any case, I have accepted the nomination in a “representative capacity”. Representing Ugandans here, and away; whose works, character and love for their country drives them to do good – and do it consistently with optimism – amidst challenging environments – and with the conviction that their efforts are NOT in vain.
This is not just an honour to me, an individual; it is recognition of the aggregate efforts of the citizens of Uganda – who wake up daily with intent and hope to build and NOT to destroy – whether in air-conditioned offices or in Shambas in the countryside. It is recognition of all men and women who overwhelmingly braved the sun in the South and the afternoon rains in the North – to make the long winding queues at polling stations with the hope of voting – in the February 2016 general elections.
It is recognition of those endangered species of men and women of character who still flash the banner of Uganda’s founding ideals and values – and those doing the painstaking job to take our nation back on to the path of obuntu bulamu – a strong value system.
It is recognition to all those – children, youth, women, men, PWDs, those in leadership positions or not, who rise to the occasion, diligently doing anything and everything small or big to eliminate today’s lingering evils: poverty, hunger, anger, corruption, impunity, conflict, crime, discrimination, terror under very difficult circumstances.
It is recognition to all those that endure to carry the conviction that indeed Uganda can be better – better than it was yesterday, better than it is today. It is an honor to the men and women emboldened by history, the search for justice and society of equal opportunities who relentlessly go out every morning to expand and broaden the benefits of democracy, rule of law and better governance for Uganda and the rest of the world.
It is an ovation to the leaders and servants who have fearlessly resisted the temptation of sliding into bitterness, anger, and hatred but instead they have boldly embraced peace, dialogue and respect for one another. This nomination is not for me as a person. It is a promise of a better Uganda.
A better country guided by the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. A better country guided by ethical values and standards NOT personal feelings; a better nation that takes its past mistakes and successes seriously – and learns from them to inspire best for today and tomorrow’s generations.
My gratitude goes out to the European Union and partners who unremittingly walk with us on this vast and sometimes dangerous journey. Our heartfelt gratitude to all men and women that stand with us on this vocation. I acknowledge the outstanding works of all the previous nominees of this award since its establishment.
The European Union (EU) has awarded three Ugandan activists for their outstanding role in defending human rights. Pamela Judith Agwech, the executive director of Gulu Women’s Economic Development and Globalisation (GWED-G) was the overall winner of the 2017 European Union Human Rights Defenders Award. Adrian Jjuuko, the executive of Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum - Uganda (HRAPF) and Crispin Kaheru the coordinator of Citizen’s Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) were first and second runner-up respectively.
Kaheru, in 2016, conceptualized and ran an innovative and motivational voter education campaigns called topowa (don’t give up) thru CCEDU that persuaded a record 67% Ugandans to vote. He also filed a successful amias curiae application, swearing the sole affidavit, which set a precedent for independent actors who wish to participate in litigation on their own initiative in Uganda.
Parliament recently passed the Uganda Communications Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The Bill gives the Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) minister wide discretionary powers in a sector that is essential to freedoms of Ugandans.
In amending section 93(1) to give the minister power to determine regulation guidelines for the telecommunications sector without seeking parliamentary approval, MPs inadvertently reneged on their constitutional mandate of conducting oversight on the Executive.
The original spirit of Section 93(1) was to check the powers of the minister when making regulations that affect the right to freedom of speech and communication. To contextualise the gravity of the matter, the minister now has powers to make regulations relating to the use of any communications station, fees payable upon the grant or renewal of a license, the classification or categories of licenses, etc.
Sensing the danger that the Bill poses to citizens’ communication, journalists and civic groups raised a red flag over the minister’s overarching powers. Unwanted witness has, for example, filed a suit in court challenging the entire Bill.
The manner in which government rushed to table amendments to a law that was less than two years old is further evidence of the concerning spirit behind the amendments. If it could not even stand a test of two years, how long is it anticipated to last now after what many have termed as worrying amendments? In effect, the amendments give the minister power to make regulations over private broadcast stations and how proprietors of private stations should operate them.
Last year, at the height of the election, government banned live coverage of Opposition political party activities. The reasons given were not convincing. If such an action was done prior to the adjustments in the law, what will happen with the sweeping powers bestowed upon the ICT minister?
In an era where live reporting is a norm, giving unchecked discretionary powers to the minister to draw guidelines gives the government extra legroom to muzzle aspects like live reporting.
Previous unilateral actions such as the closure of CBS FM in 2009 and the Internet shut down on polling day last year by the UCC are evidence that checks and balances on guidelines regulating the telecommunications sector are critical in ensuring citizen’s rights to freedom of expression and access to information. To justify the shut down of the Internet last year, the regulator claimed that the blockade was a judicious step taken to ensure national security but deciding whether national security is threatened or not cannot be at the whim of the UCC executive director or the minister.
The representatives of the people while legislating in Parliament need to reflect on whether the amendments are pro-citizen or pro-State. This may re-awaken their conscience of accountability to the electorate and their own survival in politics.
Incidents of politicians being denied airtime on broadcast shows, with broadcast stations often crumbling under stifling directives from government officials are rife. MPs have been victims of such high-handed orders of government officials and they can still be. Already, ordinary citizens cannot participate in live radio debate programmes (bimeeza) after government slapped a ban on them in early 2005.
It is only fair and prudent for all actions taken in the name of protecting the citizens and the security of the country to be subjected to Parliament approval.
Just before President Museveni came out to extend the deadline for SIM card registration, we witnessed the preliminary effects of the Amending the UCC Act. The minister of ICT seemed to act in contempt of a Parliamentary motion that was moved by Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Ms Winnie Kiiza, to allow for an extension of the SIM card registration and verification exercise. Notwithstanding the motion, the minister directed UCC to switch off all unverified SIM cards, causing panic and tension among the public.
Before the President assents to the amendment Bill, it is my hope and prayer that he returns it back to the house to ensure that the Constitutional oversight role of Parliament is reflected in Bill.
This story was Published by The Daily Monitor
Check out the FHRI's latest newsletter (Volume 14 issue No 3) for lots of news, especially about the recent activities undertaken by various Divisions.
In this issue:
Human rights movement in Africa under review
FHRI participates in Uganda’s 2nd UPR review
HRI engages Parliamentary Committees
Campaign to eradicate extreme poverty in Uganda analysed
FHRI widens her legal aid services coverage
Uganda today is faced with key problems today, issues like hunger, poverty, disease and corruption which all emanate from poor leadership. The way of life in the Government, private sector and civil society is greed and the need for ‘nfunira waa’ ( where is my benefit). Those in Government offices want a cut-off before they can process anything for anyone. Those in the private sector know that to get a deal in the Government someone has to be given a kick-back.
Bosses will agree for a junior to represent them at a meeting if the junior has some kick-back (Njawulo) they are bringing back. Does it surprise you that in certain organizations it is only certain individuals that are sent for particular assignments?
Local consultants must agree to give a kick-back to someone if they are to receive a consultancy and they assess organizations based on the kick-back. Everything is wrong with Uganda, but we are our own problem. We (Ugandans) have certified corruption and nobody sees anything wrong with it.
I read this story on watsapp recently and I find that it illustrates Uganda today, in terms of the leaders and citizens. The story goes; During the society dictatorship of Joseph Stalin, he was a brutal dictator with a mind of his own. On one fateful day, Stalin came to a meeting with a live chicken. He stood in front of the audience and started to pluck the feathers of the live chicken off one by one. The chicken trembled in pain, blood tricking out of its pores. The chicken gave out grievous cries, but Stalin continued plucking its feathers with no remorse, until the chicken was completely naked. The chicken was staggering in pain when Stalin reached out of his pockets and picked some feeds and started throwing it at the chicken as he walked away into his seat. The chicken followed him and sat below his seat and continued to feed. Stalin looked at his leadership team and told them this is how the people are. Dis-empower them, brutalize them, beat them up, starve them and leave them. They will always follow you. You simply need to go into your pockets and feed them on peanuts and you will keep them glued on you. The people will think you are a Hero forever.
Corruption compounded with exploitation of Ugandans by their leaders can be solved, if we (citizens) stopped whining about Uganda’s problems and focused on finding tangible solutions. The solution to Uganda’s problem is building a civic culture, where Ugandans like the Constitution says take back the power into their hands. Cultivating a Civic Culture largely relies on communication and persuasion. It is a culture of consensus and diversity. A culture that that can lead to change, but has within it means to moderate everyone’s actions. Society has three structures that define it, the political structures to which the Government belongs; the citizenry and emerging issues. In a civic culture individual attitudes are connected through the political structures.
People must be empowered through civic education to know their rights and responsibilities as citizens of this country. Ugandans must be charged to look at the bigger picture rather than the individual picture. Every Ugandan should be sensitized to know that each time they participate in a corruption deal, they affect their own country and ultimately are accountable for everything that is going wrong within their society.
For Ugandan leaders to improve and serve their citizens better, the citizens must be informed and guided to actively be involved in their own governance. Effective self-governance would, therefore, mean that citizens do not passively take part in political and policy process, but are rather proactively involved in the governance of their society. Did you know for instance that under article 41 of the Constitution every Ugandan has a right to access information from any Government institution or Organization and no one can stop you. We can start with information on the new oil industry that is going to be fully established by 2020 and we find out how we can meaningfully contribute to this sector, but also how we can benefit from the sector. We also need information on the lifting of Age Limits and what we can do as Ugandans.
Every Citizen can claim for information from any Government body: It is their constitutional right.-
- Demand for your Right to Information (article 41 of the Constitution and section 5 of the Access To Information Act)
- Ugandans should take deliberate efforts to know the Right to Information Act ( RTI)
- Ugandans must familiarise themselves with the law on Access to information (ATIA)
- Have a firm grasp of the scope of accessible information
Citizens can only hold their Government accountable when they have information concerning a particular issue they want the Government to resolve. And the first step is to access all the necessary information concerning the issue from Government bodies, then use the information to hold the government accountable.
First things first, in-order to promote a vibrant civic culture in Uganda we must get informed about what is going on in our society on a daily basis. Information can be accessed in the newspapers, but we are also entitled to get it from Government bodies within 21 days after we lodge a request. The elite should then interpret this information for the people in our communities who cannot read or comprehend the issues as we do.
Together we can bring about the much needed change in our Ugandan society, the berk starts and stops with you.
The writer is the Communication and Advocacy Manager,
Foundation for Human Rights Initiative
 Article 1: Power belongs to the people.
The Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU)/Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHR) intends to petition the Constitutional Court with a view of challenging the proposed voting by lining-up method during the Local Council I and II elections. In this respect, CCEDU/FHRI requests Legal firms that might be interested in providing legal representation to CCEDU/FHRI before the Constitutional Court, to express interest through providing both a technical and financial proposal.
Expressions of interest must be hand delivered to the address below, not later than Friday, May 19, 2017 – 17:30 hours (East African Time). All bid envelopes must indicate the following reference:
Contract ref. No.: CCEDU/FHRI 002/2017
Plot 1111 Lulume Road Nsambya
P.O. Box 11027 Kampala, Uganda
Tel: +256 794 444 410