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Gov’t reiterates commitment to champion human rights amid growing concerns of disappearing people

The State Minister for Agriculture, Fred Bwiino Kaykulya, has reiterated the Government of Uganda’s commitment to protect and promote human rights.

Kyakulya (centre) planting a tree to mark Human Rights Defenders Day. Photos by Ambrose Watanda

Kyakulya, who emphasised that the Government is a partner in the fight against abuse of human rights, said that the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHCR) was formed as a mechanism for dealing with complaints of human rights abuse and investigating them thoroughly.

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The National Resistance Movement (NRM) government went to the bush to fight because of the gross human rights violations that were taking place under the watch of the then regimes,” he said.

He added, “The NRM Government is the number one champion of human rights in Uganda and has put in place mechanisms such as the UHCR, which is mandated to receive complaints and investigate human rights violations in the country."

The framers of the 1995 Constitution recognised non-state actors such as non-governmental organisations, which are champions of human rights. This is an indicator that the government is committed to the cause.”

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The minister was representing the Third Deputy Prime Minister, Rukia Nakadama, at an event in Jinja City to commemorate International Human Rights Defenders Day on Thursday, December 7, 2023.

The executive director of the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders Uganda (NCHRD-U), Robert Kirenga, also emphasised the need to protect and promote human rights.

Kirenga said that most statistics today show that police are the number one violators of human rights and that it has become a habit for some officers to violate people’s rights through beating.

He said there are efforts by the organisation to fight human rights abuse in the country. It should be noted that NCHRD-U and UHCR are attempting to get Parliament to pass the Human Rights Defenders Bill.

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The minister’s remarks come against the backdrop of growing concerns about people disappearing more often.

The opposition, through the Leader of Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga, has severally accused the Government of kidnapping its supporters and torturing them.

While appearing on a local television current affairs programme, Mpuuga said that Uganda is one of the worst performers worldwide when it comes to human rights violations.

Mpuuga also raised concern about emerging incidents of detention without trial. He said over 500 NUP supporters were arrested in different parts of 2021 and spent one year without trial.

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Recently, Mpuuga and his opposition counterparts demanded that the government give an explanation of the whereabouts of Ugandans who have disappeared, something the government failed to do. This led to stalling in Parliament when opposition leaders vowed never to attend plenary until their demands were met.

The event had a series of activities, including walking, tree planting, and fitness exercises. The tree planting exercise was geared towards leaving a mark behind regarding human rights defenders.

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