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Defending Human Rights Defenders


The Centre admits volunteers and interns both from Uganda and around the world. Under this programme, individuals who have a passion for human rights and have an interest in joining the Centre’s team to further the mission and vision of the organisation are given the opportunity to do so. The organisation recognises and respects diversity in its recruitment process and has given its former volunteers and interns invaluable practical experience. Previous interns and volunteers have been drawn from Uganda, USA and Ireland.

Applications can be sent by email to, hand delivered to Plot 65 Luthuli Avenue, Bugolobi, or posted to P.O Box 25638 Kampala, Uganda

Volunteers and Interns at HRCU

Former interns

Rik Van Hulst

(April - July 2013)

Radboud University-Nijmegen Netherlands

I am a master's student in Human Geography and have an MSC in Business Administration from the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands. I was privileged to join the Human Rights Centre Uganda for three months. It really was an experience in which I developed myself in many ways and got to know motivated and inspiring individuals. In my opinion, the work and violated rights of HRDs is still an under-exposed subject, and therefore the Centre does a great job in broadening the visibility of the work of HRDs. The large variety of tasks the Centre provides regarding defending and promoting the rights of human rights defenders (HRDs), makes the Centre a necessity in the field of human rights in Uganda.

During my internship I was a member of the Programmes department, whereby my main tasks were analyzing bills, co-developing the first newsletter of the Centre, and co-developing a renewed research approach for the Annual Report. The diversity of tasks kept me busy in a positive way, where I met interesting people, attended meetings and debates and learned to analyze problems from different perspectives.

Next to this, I got the feeling my experiences and knowledge also contributed to the Centre's activities. During my internship I did research for my master thesis whereby I focused on human rights defenders active in the oil sector. The Centre, in particular Jacqueline Kasoma, helped me with my first contacts, got me on the participants list of meetings and provided me with information. Also the Centre's library is a real source of information and a nice working environment. 

The one conclusion I can draw is that the Centre is a wonderful place to work to participate in a team of hardworking professionals. It was not only a very beneficial and fruitful experience, the team also very family-like. The work is done with passion, and I am glad I could contribute my part. Margaret Sekaggya, Executive Director of the Centre and UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, is a role model with a great personality. It was a great time getting to know the Centre, Uganda and most of all, the Ugandan people.

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  • 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.

  • 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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