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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.


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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 >>

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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.

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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.

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  • By: jose
    UN expert hails role of equality bodies and action plans in combating racism: NEW YORK / GENEVA (2 November 2016) – States should maximize the use of specialized equality bodies and national action plans to tackle racism and xenophobia, a United Nations human rights expert has said. Using these tools was key to identifying the causes and shaping new policies, said the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Mutuma Ruteere. “National specialized bodies and national action plans address the root causes of discrimination in areas such as employment, housing, education, the justice system, law enforcement and access to different goods and services,” Mr. Ruteree said, presenting a report* to the UN General Assembly. “They also drive change in State and private organizations Read the Special Rapporteur’s report:

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