Blog Sign In | Register


Defending Human Rights Defenders


HRCU has provided support to the mandate of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders (UNSR) when mandate holder was Ms. Margaret Sekaggya and now it is Michel Forst from France. HRCU still does awareness creation programmes in the media; public dialogues and trainings of HRDs on the work of the UNSR and how they can utilise that office. Such fora enabled many HRDs to understand the UNSR mandate and in turn share the information so that as many HRDs as possible can utilise the mechanism.


 Media campaign

HRCU organises radio and television talk shows as well as newspaper supplement to promote awareness of the UNSR with specific themes such as; UN and its human rights mandate, and the UN Declaration on human rights defenders, Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) have the right to be protected, HRDs vis a vis International Human Rights Day. 

 Public Dialogues

HRCU popularises the mandate of the UNSR during public dialogues organised with a number of stakeholders from different regions of Uganda as an advocacy measure to inform and empower HRDs to voice out the issues affecting them. The dialogues also come up with strategies of addressing the challenges as well as how HRDs implement their mandates within the law.

Interactive dialogue on the domestication of the UN Declaration on HRDs

The dialogue took place  at Kampala Serena Hotel to discuss how the Declaration could be domesticated. HRDs shared their views and appreciated HRCU for initiating the process of domesticating the Declaration. At the dialogue, information was shared on the duties and responsibilities of both the HRDs and the state and how the Declaration should be implemented. Ms. Ruth Sekindi from the Uganda Human Rights Commission and Mr. Samuel Herbert Nsubuga from the African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (ACTV) shared their experiences on the process of domesticating the Convention against Torture (CAT) culminating into the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act, 2012. Ms. Annet Koote from the Uganda Law Reform Commission also elaborated on the process of domesticating treaties and conventions. The Hon. Jovah Kamateeka, the chairperson of the Human Rights Committee of Parliament, pledged to work with HRCU to see that the Declaration is domesticated for the benefit of HRDs.


   Print Friendly and PDF


United Nations Special Rapporteur Ms. Margaret Sekaggya makes huge strides in protecting human rights as she makes her very first official country visit to South Korea to evaluate the situation of human rights defenders in the country.

From 29 May to 7 June 2013, She is scheduled to meet with Government officials, representatives of the legislative and judicial branches, UN agencies in the country, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, a broad range of civil society actors and private corporations.

This is the first official mission to the country of a UN Human Rights Council expert mandated to assess and report on the situation of rights defenders and presents a unique opportunity to provide observations and recommendations on South Korea's legal framework, institutions and other factors influencing the environment in which defenders work."

For more information: Other Detials >>

   Print Friendly and PDF


Mr. Tom Koenigs, Chairman of the Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid of the German Parliament, welcoming Mrs. Sekaggya on this occasion

 On 24 April 2013, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Ms. Margaret Sekaggya, addressed the committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid of the Germany Parliament in Bundestag. This was with regard to the situation of human rights defenders worldwide with the objective of aiding the committee to assist human rights defenders. 

On 25 April 2013, she/then travelled to Prague for a conference, where she made a presentation about the current trends in the use of legislation to regulate the work of human rights defenders. She discussed the specific types of legislation such as: The legislation on public morals, the Anti-terrorism legislation and other legislation relating to national security, access to information and official-secret legislation, the defamation and blasphemy legislation, the legislation on internet access and the legislation governing registration, functioning and funding of associations.

She also discussed the Resolution on the protection of human rights defenders adopted by the Human Rights Council in Geneva and co-sponsored by more than 70 states. 

This conference was aimed at addressing and finding solutions to the frequent stigmatisation accompanied by prosecution of human rights defenders and criminalization of their activities, often based on ambiguous security laws and prosecutions on false charges.

   Print Friendly and PDF


On 4 March 2013, the UN Special Rapporteur made a report on the situation of human rights defenders and this prompted the passing of a draft resolution on 21st March, to protect human rights defenders from the use of legislation to curtail their activities.

The report given by the UN Special Rapporteur, Ms. Margaret Sekaggya to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly at Geneva focused on the challenges human rights defenders faced with specific reference to country visits she made to Honduras, Tunisia and Ireland.

She expressed her concerns over:

  • The countries in the Gulf region, notably Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates over the arrests of human rights defenders peacefully exercising their rights to assemble and associate.
  • The recent developments in Egypt over the violence suffered by peaceful protestors, including gender-based violence against women and human rights defenders.
  • The situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran in recent months which pointed to an increasingly difficult environment for human rights defenders.
  • The Philippines' significant reports of killings and threats against human rights defenders particularly those working on indigenous people's rights, land and environmental rights.
  • The Latin America region, which has prevailing levels of impunity that surround violations against human rights defenders, as perpetrators are rarely held accountable.
  • The number of Governments restricting and criminalizing interaction and information sharing with international bodies and
  • The trend of misuse or selective use of different types of legislations to restrict, criminalize and stigmatize the work of human rights defenders in all parts of the world.

She appealed to states to ensure proper consultation processes when new legislation is being discussed by involving civil society, national human rights institutions and other stake holders and to recall the minimum standards for legislation enshrined in the international law, notably the principles of legality, necessity, proportionality and non-discrimination.

The resolution urges states to create a safe and enabling environment in which human rights defenders can work free from hindrance and insecurity especially that of any legislation affecting their activities. It also urges states to ensure that human rights defenders can perform their important role in the context of peaceful protests and urges states to ensure that reporting requirements placed on individual groups and organs of society do not inhibit their functional autonomy.

For more information please visit:

   Print Friendly and PDF


  • By: sckawooya
    Parliament’s role in promoting Constitutionalism: Constitutionalism is the idea that a government can and should be limited in its powers by a fundamental law or set of laws, beyond the reach of an individual government to amend them; whose authority depends on its observing of these limitations. The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 as amended provides for a system of checks and balances amongst the 3 arms of government: Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. These three arms of government are each charged with specific duties. The Executive is charged with the duty to implement and maintain the Constitution and laws made under the Constitution; the Legislature is charged with the duty of formulating laws for the Country, which should be in conformity with the Constitution. Parliament is also charged with the duty to protect the Constitution and promote the democratic governance of Uganda; the Judiciary is the justice dispensing arm of government. Parliament is the legislative, elected body of government tasked with passing laws of Uganda that provide for good governance and playing the oversight role of the other arms of government. Parliament is thus the representation of the people. Parliament is principally charged with 2 roles in promoting constitutionalism. These have been enshrined in the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda; protecting the Constitution and holding the Executive accountable. Protecting the Constitution In order to appreciate this duty imposed on Parliament, Uganda’s history with regard to the constitutions had and the making of the 1995 Constitution should be noted. Benjamin J. Odoki, in his essay, “The Challenges of Constitution-making and Implementation in Uganda” he noted that the making of a new constitution in Uganda demonstrated the desire of the people to fundamentally change their system of governance into a truly democratic one. Further that the process was thus a major step towards the democratization of the country which had experienced nearly thirty years of oppression, tyranny and exploitation. The history of Uganda’s constitutionalism road is that up until 1995, Uganda had had 3 constitutions namely: 1962, 1966 and 1967 Constitutions. It should be noted that in making of these constitutions, massive consultations of the citizens was not done by the responsible authorities. They had simply been enacted, and handed down to be implemented. It could thus be argued that the views of the people had not been reflected in the Constitutions. Thus, in 1988, the Uganda Constitution Commission was established and it spearheaded the task of making the Constitution that was promulgated in 1995 by the Constituent assembly. The making of the Constitution was distinctly characterized by popular participation by the people which was achieved through wide consultation and national public debate. The Constitution under Article 79 lays down the functions of Parliament which are to make laws and protect the constitution and promote democratic governance of Uganda. The duty of protecting the constitution would among others include preserving the spirit of the constitution that way it is not amended or altered veering off the purpose of the people. Since 1995, the constitution has been amended a number of times; including September and December 2005. The amendments have among others been for the creation of new districts, new offices, creation of special courts to handle offences relating to corruption, remove the limits on the tenure of office of the President. The role of parliament in protecting the constitution must be to vote either for or against an amendment of the constitution whilst being mindful of the Uganda’s history. Parliament should also be mindful of the fact that the constitution that was promulgated in 1995 was one that reflected the views of the people who had lived through the oppression and tyranny that characterizes our past as a nation. Parliament is further urged to not only look at the present and past but also the future. Ideally, the test should be that if an amendment years down the road can easily lead to oppression or tyranny stands to be exploited to the detriment of Uganda and her citizens, that amendment should not be allowed. As earlier noted, Constitutionalism is about ensuring that governance is done in accordance with the law and not the whim of the government of the day. Similarly, the constitution should not be easily and frequently amended to suit the needs of the government of the day. And this is what in principle the duty of protecting the constitution is all about. Holding the Executive accountable As noted earlier, each arm of government has certain controls over the other 2 arms. For Parliament, it principally has the duty of holding the Executive or the state accountable for all decisions that it makes as well as its actions. This is provided for under the national objective I which makes it clear that the President has to report to Parliament and the nation all steps taken to ensure the realization of the national objectives and directive principles of state policy. The goal of holding the Executive accountable is such that there is difficulty in the State abusing the power that it is given by law. Parliament, in fulfilling this duty has held weekly plenary sessions in which the Prime Minister is tasked to explain state actions of lack thereof on issues, and through the parliamentary committee sessions, has held the state accountable. The expectation for the 10th Parliament is that it does not take the trend of the 9th Parliament, which during its first year was seen to be assertive and its actions promoting constitutionalism and over the course of time became less active with the fire unfortunately dying out. Members of Parliament should at all times be mindful of Parliament’s role in promoting constitutionalism and in all decisions have them at the forefront as they are the key in protecting Uganda from ever experiencing the past that we have worked so hard to distance ourselves from.

Follow Us:
facebook google+ linkedintwitter linkedln