Letter: Open Letter to Uganda Human Rights Commission – Maseruka Sadat

Dear Commissioners,
Greetings and hoping that you are doing well in these dire times.

The Uganda Human Rights Commission, UHRC, is established under Article 51 (1) of The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 and mandated under article 52 (1) (a) of the Constitution to investigate on its own initiative or on a complaint made by any person or group of persons against the violations of any human rights of any Ugandan.

Against this background, I hereby do make such a complaint.
Ever since His Excellency the President announced a lockdown, there has been a blatant disregard and violation of the fundamental human rights of Ugandans meted on them by state agents.

The UHRC is mandated as a body under article 52(1)(b) to visit jails, prisons and other areas of detention with a view of assessing and inspecting the conditions of the inmates.

More so, article 52 (1) (h) gives the body a duty to monitor the Government’s compliance with the international treaty and convention obligations on human rights.

Many people, old and young, rich and poor, have been incarcerated purportedly for disobeying the presidential directives on the control of the coronavirus pandemic and hounded in numbers to various detention centres.

It is, however, appalling that the commission has not addressed itself, or if yes, then not duly acted upon this ignominy. It is, thus, my submission that your silence is now too loud to resist.

The media-awash examples of persons that need the commission’s intervention in utmost urgency are only privileged to be reported about.

The writer of The Greedy Barbarian, Mr Rukirabashaija Kakwenza,
is one of those allegedly at the peril of those in power and most recently, the Honorable Member of Parliament, Francis Zaake, who continues to undergo medical treatment.

The horrors of the many people not reported about can only be imagined from the heinous torture that those reported about have been unduly and shamelessly subjected to.

Needless to say, most vexatious is the derogation from the non-derogable rights to a fair hearing, an order of habeas corpus, and freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment enshrined in article 44 of the Constitution.

It is high time you expended the powers vested in the commission in article 53 of the Constitution.

It should not be forgotten that whereas article 43 of the Constitution limits the enjoyment of human rights and freedoms to prejudice of such enjoyment by others or the public interest, it clearly states that public interest shall not permit political persecution, detention without trial and any limitation of such enjoyment of rights beyond what is acceptable and demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society, or the provisions of the Constitution.

Youth Coordinator – Central Region, Alliance for National Transformation.