KAMPALA – The Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) has asked the Parliament of Uganda to create a security/police oversight committee to monitor activities of security establishments including Police and the Military.
Appearing before the Human Rights Committee of Parliament to deliver a status report on Human Rights violations in Uganda, UPC Secretary General Fred Ebil said the independent police oversight system should either be at the level of a commission or authority that is equipped with the requisite capacity and skills required to investigate complex policing actions and operations.
“Much as we appreciate the work of Uganda Humans Rights Commission in regard to the nature and complexity of policing, it requires a certain level of specialized oversight,” Mr. Ebil said adding:
“We further propose to this committee, that these security oversight Commission or Authority be comprised of members from the Uganda Law Society, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Uganda Human Rights Commission, the Judiciary and the Attorney General’s Chambers”.
Key among others, UPC also wants government to cease military deployments to quell civil unrests or policing work, reasoning that this would only leave the work of keeping Law and Order in the hands of the Uganda Police Force and hence proper and better accountability mechanism.
Ebil also wants Parliament adopt without any modification the position of the Constitutional Court in Kabaziguruka Vs the Attorney General in where the court held that the trial of civilians in the Military Court Martial is unconstitutional, as the right position of the law.
The committee is investigating cases of alleged human rights violations by security operatives, following a directive by the Deputy Speaker, Anita Among during a plenary sitting on 8th February 2022.
On 03 February 2022, Opposition Members of Parliament led by the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Mathias Mpuuga walked out of Parliament protesting what they termed as the continued violation of rights of Ugandans by security operatives.
The Chairperson of Commission, Mariam Wangadya while appearing before the Human Rights Committee on Thursday, 24 February 2022 said they registered 1,205 complaints of alleged human rights violations between January 2020 and January 2022.
She cited 600 cases of alleged torture, 378 cases of deprivation of personal liberty, 90 cases of deprivation of life, 71 cases of deprivation of security of person and 65 cases of disappearance of persons.
She told Committee that the commission’s investigations at Kitalya prison with 87 inmates indicated that 35 of them were arrested by the UPDF in Kalangala and 52 by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence on charges related to the 2021 general elections.
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UGANDA PEOPLES CONGRESS
PAPER PRESENTED TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE OF PARLIAMENT PRESENTED ON THE 13:04:2022
BY HON. FRED EBIL
Pursuant to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR); the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR); the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC); Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), lays down the obligations of Governments to act in certain ways or to refrain from certain acts, in order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals.
The African regional human rights system established the 1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR).
Cognizant of chapter four of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda provides for protection, promotion and preservation of all rights, which are inherent and God given.
In furtherance of fulfilling the above obligations, the Government of Uganda established Uganda Human Rights Commission, and Equal Opportunity Commission among other institutions to oversee the observance of human rights in Uganda.
Aware that the National Development Plan (NDP III), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aims at promoting human rights and the fact that Uganda underwent Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for the third time in 2019, there is still a big disjuncture between policies which remain ideal on paper and practical implementation.
- Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) view on Human Rights
- UPC believes that the Uganda Government does not adequately observe the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). This is manifested in arbitrary arrests, abductions, kidnaps, trial of civilians in military courts and prolonged incommunicado detention. For instance, the January 2021 general elections, our campaigns experienced a lot violence which infringed on political rights and freedoms of entire citizenry.
- Uganda Government acknowledges that the private sector will over the next decade play a pivotal role in the country’s development. The country is yet to develop policies to operationalize the guiding principles on business and human rights and/or formulate a national action plan on business and human rights. Consequently, human rights abuses in the context of business activities persist. For example Uganda minimum wage, which has not been adjusted since 1994 is equivalent of UGX. 6,000 per month (approximately 2 USD), unlawful land evictions and grabbing are rampant, unguided evictions and prohibitions of indigenous fishing communities with impunity by government.
- UPC has observed that education is no longer a service but more of a commodity that is increasingly getting expensive and out of reach for the majority of our people. Some form of intervention is needed to streamline the school fees structure that seems to be very expensive at Pre-primary or nursery, primary and secondary school. Those who can afford expensive schools have a guarantee of better results and with good opportunities of performing well in the labour market. The rest who are unable to raise such fees, their children remain “hewers of wood and drawers of society”. In the long run, the society gets divided into two classes; the haves and the have-nots. This inequality is not good for our projected political, social and economic development.
- There is also commoditization of social amenities such as clean piped water, electricity, and roads among others which are basic requirements for one to live a descent life. These sectors have been left in the hands of the private company whose sole goal is profit oriented as opposed to social service.
Uganda Peoples Congress Proposes that in a bid to curb Security excesses and observe Human rights, Parliament should create the Security/Police Oversight Committee since International and continental instruments are clear. The independent police oversight system should either be at the level of a commission or authority that is equipped with the requisite capacity and skills required to investigate complex policing actions and operations.
Much as we appreciate the work of Uganda Humans Rights Commission in regard to the nature and complexity of policing, it requires a certain level of specialized oversight.
We further propose to this committee, that these security oversight Commission or Authority be comprised of members from the Uganda Law Society, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Uganda Human Rights Commission, the Judiciary and the Attorney General’s Chambers.
It’s further our recommendation that Government limits the deployment of military to contain civil unrests or policing work. These in our view would only leave the work of keeping Law and Order in the hands of the Uganda Police Force and hence proper and better accountability mechanism.
UPC recommends for a national action plan on business and human rights to harmonize and avert the violation of human rights in business activities.
We recommend that Government fulfills the Abuja Declaration of increasing the national budget for health to 15%. And also ensures that health users’ management committees are fully constituted and functional in every district.
We believe that the position of the Constitutional Court in Kabaziguruka Vs the Attorney General in where the court held that the trial of civilians in the Military Court Martial is unconstitutional, as the right position of the law. UPC therefore urges this committee to adopt that position without modification.
UPC recommends that the institution of equal opportunity commission opens offices in different regions of Uganda for easy monitoring of compliance nationally.
UPC further recommends that the Uganda government should ratify the protocol to the international covenant on economic ,social and cultural rights.