SUPPORTING CHILDREN’S RETURN TO SCHOOL DURING COVID-19

With the reopening of schools for some students, children are likely to be experiencing a range of emotions. The return to school will be welcome and exciting for many students, but others will be feeling anxious or frightened. Here’s what you can do to support children with the complicated emotions they may be experiencing and ease them into the new normal at school.

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BACK TO SCHOOL DURING COVID-19: SOME TIPS FOR PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS

Back to school preparations after holidays are usually hectic and stressful for some parents. Now that the schools are opening for candidates and finalists after almost six months of lockdown due to the COVID-19 Outbreak in Uganda, it could be even more difficult.

Here are some tips that may be helpful as the school year starts, whether or not your child will be returning to school physically or virtually.

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WORK-LIFE BALANCE (WLB) DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

WLB is the state of equilibrium where a person’s personal life meets one’s career demands, for anything above that point or below that point is a state of imbalance and it’s unhealthy for the individual both personally and at work.

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WAYS TO ENCOURAGE SAFE BEHAVIOR DURING THE PANDEMIC

Make the positive impact visible

People need to hear that their actions are making a difference. In this case, they are more likely to continue with difficult advice when they feel that it’s actually making a difference. For instance at a workplace, letting the people know that their positive actions in observing the SOPs have safeguarded them and their fellow colleagues from being affected by COVID-19.

There’s also a good way to recognize each other’s efforts through expression of gratitude. Saying “thank you” to other people who adhere to wearing masks and social distancing can also help. Not only does gratitude make people feel good about what they’re doing, but it can also encourage them to “pay it forward” and to want to do more to help others.

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VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN: A HIDDEN CRISIS OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

It should be noted that most of the perpetrators of violence against children are people within their spheres such as relatives, care-takers and peers. While the children have been locked down with such people due to the pandemic, there has been a rise in the violation of children’s rights and freedoms. Thus, the long break from school as a result of COVID-19 is slowly turning into a nightmare.

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STAND AGAINST THE STIGMA AROUND COVID

One of the enduring slogans from the HIV response is: Viruses don’t discriminate. People do.

Stigma has huge power to undermine efforts to prevent and treat health conditions. It emerges quickly in times of crisis. To stave off the fear of disease, we cling to an identity of people ‘like me’ (who are not at risk, or affected) vs ‘others’ (who are). The ‘others’ are usually those already marginalised by existing social norms: stigma is gendered, homophobic, racist, ageist, ability-ist and elitist.

WAYS TO STAND AGAINST COVID-19 STIGMA with LESSONS FROM HIV RESPONSE

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Human Rights, Emergency and Security measures

The pandemic poses a serious public health threat with wide-ranging implications for peace and security. Emergency powers may be needed but broad executive powers, swiftly granted with minimal oversight, carry risks. Heavy-handed security responses undermine the health response and can exacerbate existing threats to peace and security or create new ones.

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HOW TO WEAR YOUR FACE MASK SAFELY

Almost overnight, masks in a variety of colours, styles and materials have appeared on the faces of people around us. While it’s good news that many people are doing their part to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, especially frontline health workers, the bad news is that many people are wearing their masks wrong. Here are the tips we need to follow in order to wear our masks safely

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TECHNOLOGY and COVID-19

As workers were advised not to go to their work places, it was a turning point for Human Rights Defenders to quickly adjust and adopt new methods of effectively conducting their work whereby they had to become accustomed to the new forms of communication that highly rely on technology.

With the sudden onset and rapid spread of the coronavirus, many organizations were not able to plan accordingly and many found themselves (in terms of technological resources) unprepared to cope with employees working remotely. Now HRDs are adapting a “learn-by-doing” approach.

Read more on the TIPS ON HOW TO REMOTELY WORK EFFECTIVELY USING TECHNOLOGY

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The Centre's digest

The Centre Digest is one among many of the publications issued by the Centre to promote human rights education and empower human rights defenders (HRDs) with knowledge on different issues they face in their working environment. The newsletter is circulated freely to several HRDs in many different regions in the country. The 7th edition of the Human Rights Centre’s Digest is focusing on the critical role women human rights defenders have played and continue to play in promoting human rights. HRCU is pleased and proud to have been part of that journey of highlighting the great work and contribution of women human rights defenders and exposing the limitations that impede enjoyment of their rights and fundamental freedoms.

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HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES ARISING OUT OF THE MEASURES TAKEN IN UGANDA TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC NOTED BY THE HRCU

1st MAY 2020

Introduction

For the past one month (April, 2020), the working environment of HRDs was permeated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Following its outbreak in Uganda, the government, through the President H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni introduced some measures in order to contain the spread of the disease. In his first address to the Nation on 18th March, 2020, he ordered the closure of schools, churches, mosques and cancelled all other forms of gatherings for a period of 30 days. On March 25th he banned public transport, operations of non-food markets and instituted mandatory quarantine for all Ugandans coming in from high risk countries. On 30th March 2020, the President declared a total lockdown, and announced several additional measures including nighttime curfew (7:00pm-6:30am), banning the use of all privately owned vehicles and closure of shopping malls and non-food stores. He also and directed vendors to sleep at the markets where they operate for 14 days. On 14th April, the lockdown was extended to a period of 21 days from 15th April to 5th May 2020. When he addressed the nation again on 20th April, 2020, he maintained several of these additional measures but removed the requirement for moving permits for expectant mothers.

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World Press Freedom Day

Stand with Human Rights Defenders in the media fraternity on World Press freedom Day, 3rd May 2019

The 3rd May 2019 marks the 26th celebration of World Press Freedom Day. This year’s theme is: Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation. This day is jointly organized by UNESCO, the African Union Commission and the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The main event took place in Addis Ababa, on 1-3 May at the African Union Headquarters.

The purpose of this day is to defend the media from attacks on their independence, pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty, assess the state of press freedom throughout the world and celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom.

The number of events being held in Addis Ababa and internationally, under the 2019 theme, will address key priorities for the World and for Africa. Some of these key priorities include; how the digital era is affecting electoral communications; medias role in democracy through discrediting professional journalism, and disrupting internet access; and media’s potential to contribute to a culture of sustainable peace and democracy. Uganda has seen a high rate of growth of a dynamic and vibrant media industry covering different interests and views, journalists play a key role in the protection and promotion of human rights in Uganda by exposing human rights violations such as the violation of the right to life attributed to mob justice, human sacrifice as well as the right to property with the main focus on land issues. Yet journalists in Uganda have faced some challenges as they exercise their right to seek receive and impart information including reports of some journalists being subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment; arbitrary deprivation of poverty and unlawful arrests sometimes including instances of charges under laws that courts have declared to be inconsistent with the Constitution. There have also been reports of journalists being denied access to news scenes and their equipment being confiscated, damaged or destroyed, as well as operating under poor working conditions with no safety and protection gear. There is also the growing problem of low professionalism among journalists, which has in some cases led to irresponsible, inaccurate and unbalanced media reports that have had the potential to excite and inflame rather than inform. A 2016 report by HRNJ-Uganda, it was noted that Journalists experienced 135 human rights violations and the police was the main violator of their rights. The Human Rights Centre Uganda(HRCU) recognizes that journalists are Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) that require protection and promotion of their rights. HRCU has collaborated with Journalists all over Uganda and ensure that they are invited to speak on panels at our Annual Forum to raise awareness of their suffering and violations of their rights.

On Thursday 2nd of May, there was a Media Dialogue to celebrate World Press Freedom Day at Hotel Africana. MadamThe Executive Director of HRCU Mdse Margaret Sekaggya, the Executive Director of HRCU was in attendance and gave a speech highlighting the importance of professionalism amongst Journalists in Uganda. On Friday 3rd May, there was a March in celebration of World Press Freedom Day.

Recommendations to the Government and its agencies;

1. Uphold its duty to respect, protect and fulfil the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression

2. Implement recommendations it adopted during Uganda’s Universal Periodic Review in Geneva in 2011.

3. Consider a visit to Uganda by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression as a sign of our country’s commitment to promoting this right.

4. Review all media laws to assess their compliance with international human rights standards in order to implement law reforms that would improve the media regulatory environment and to expedite the process of erasing from the law books, all press laws that have been nullified by the Courts of Law.

Recommendations to Civil Society;

1. Advocate for the rights of Journalists and raise awareness about the human rights violations that they face.

2. Call out and speak out against the violators of Journalists rights.

3. Capacity build journalists about professionalism within their occupation.

4. Insist that media houses provide the safety measures required for the unique work that journalists do.

Recommendations to Development Partners;

1. Provide funds for trainings on security and safety of Journalists.

2. Provide funds for the resources needed to ensure security and safety of Journalists.

3. Monitor and evaluate the use of these resources and safety skills within the media houses in Uganda.

Overview of activities

Launch of the HRDs report 2016.

HRD capacity building workshop.

Commemoration of the anti-torture day.

HRCU staff at a human rights show.