Human Rights Convention 2018
Uganda has over the last few months been involved in the intense discussions about legal and constitutional reforms. These included and were not limited to amendment of the constitution, reform of electoral laws, the role of security agencies and the right to protest among. In addition, the right to ownership of land for women and the right of minorities in Uganda. Silent but vital are the issues on business and economic rights in Uganda.
In light of the above, the executive arm of government introduced a proposal to amend the constitution allowing to the state to develop land without compensating the land owner as long as the disputed amount is before a competent court. More still was the private members bill which was tabled before the legislature to amend the Presidential age limit in the constitution. This, after the removal of term limits was the only safe guard to allow for peaceful transition.
It is on this basis and more that four partner organizations namely: Chapter four Uganda, Centre for Policy Analysis, the Fredrich Ebert Foundation and the Uganda Consortium on Corporate accountability with support from Diakonia Uganda and the Swedish Embassy convened the second annual Human Rights convention. To analyze these issues personalities influencing public policy, law making and political discourse in Uganda were invited to unearth the way forward for the country and to identify avenues that can he harnessed to ensure a more human rights sensitive and adequate but not absolute democratic Uganda.
The Key Note address was passionately articulated by Maina Kiai. A lawyer, Human rights activists who formerly served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights to freedom of Peaceful assembly and of Associations. The theme of his speech was centered around the controversy on constitutionalism and social change through Human Rights Activism. In his opinion, constitutionalism is more the than the written text of the constitution but the rule of law and not rule by law. It is not executive influence of power but the checks and balances of the arms of government to avoid the abuse of their authority. Constitutionalism is a whole theory that requires intricated application of the law. In his address, he emphasized that activism is use of action to be able to plot change and move the society and community.
The Theme for this Year’s Convention was “Political discourse and Human rights, which way Uganda?”
The convention was subdivided into four sessions each creating a platform for dialogue and deliberation on issues affecting and infecting the realization of Human rights in Uganda.
Session one was circumvented around the topic of the mutual exclusivity between democracy and Human Rights with specific Reflections on Uganda’s Future. This session held panel with three legislative members of parliament one of whom, Hon Safia Nalule is the Vice chair of the Human Rights committee in parliament. This session threw light on the use of democracy and its agents through elected people representatives to legitimize the abuse of Human rights in Uganda. Democracy is about what happened before during and after elections. Human rights values and tenets must be observed and upheld at all levels of the democratic processes.
Session two was centered on how oppression can be turned into opportunity with specific considerations to women and minority groups in Uganda. This session featured Dr Stella Nyanzi and Academic Scholar and Activist, Pepe Julian Onzeima, the programs Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda and Ms. Eunice Musiime, the executive director freedom and roam Uganda. A united front was demonstrated emphasizing the need for persistence in the fight and struggle for gender equality for minorities and women in Uganda. How the vast violations of the state can be harnessed into opportunity.
Session three tackled more complex but vital aspect about the Economic and social rights, Business and Human Rights landscape in Uganda. Featuring the rapid growth of the private sector and slow and unclear extraction of minerals like oil and gas. It is also important to mention that there is no accountability for taxes that exorbitantly charged on tax payers. this session was expounded by Mr. Bernard Mujuni, the commissioner Equity and Rights of the Ministry of Gender labor and social development and Ms. Salima Namusobya, the Executive Director Imitative for Social and Economic Rights
Session four was about media freedom. 3rd may 2018, was International press Freedom Day and this basis guided the conversation. How the media are giving civil and political right more courage sidelining cultural and community rights. The media are the voice for human rights activism and it places a duty and obligation on them to investigate, disseminate and report truth to the reality in order to promote human rights. Championing the conversation was Raymond Mujuni and Investigative Journalist, Ms. Rebecca Rwakabukozza a co-convener woman in media.
The convention was crowned with the award of the Human rights plank 2018 to Prof Dr Sylvia Tamale for her invaluable contribution to the fight for the protection and promotion of human rights. She is known for spear heading the fight on the sexual harassment policy and she wrote a policy paper on nude protests.