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Defending Human Rights Defenders



Posted On: 15 Jan 2018

Human Rights Centre Uganda does not condone illegal or corrupt practices therefore anyone with evidence of any such practices within HRCU may report immediately by sending an email to

This information will be handled with utmost confidentiality, from the investigation stage through to the decision made. HRCU is committed to defending the source of the information against retaliation for reporting any illegal or corrupt read more...

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Role of Human Rights Defenders in the implementation of the new recommendations from the Universal Periodic Review of 2016

Posted On: 08 Aug 2017


The purpose of this article is to discuss the appropriate courses of action that Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) can undertake in order to effectively implement and encourage said implementation of the Universal Periodic Reviews recommendations. These were presented to the Ugandan Government in the year 2016 in relation to the standard of human rights in the country. This review also acknowledges the effort that the government, amongst other bodies, has put into fulfilling the previous recommendations made by the 2011 UPR of Uganda.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a UN process which involves periodically reviewing the human rights records and current standards of all 193 UN member states. On the 15th of March 2006, the UN General Assembly established the United Nations Human read more...

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The passing of the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Act, 2015

Posted On: 19 Oct 2015

The passing of the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Act, 2015


The Anti-Terrorism Amendment Act was passed by Parliament on 19 June 2015. This article discusses the Anti-Terrorism Amendment Act in light of its: importance; the procedure followed in passing it; andits implications including human rights considerations. It also makes recommendations for improvements in the legislative process.

Importance of the Act

The Amendment Act was important for various reasons. The Amendment Act had the objective of amending the Anti-terrorism Act 2002 to: redefine acts of terrorism including terrorism financing; giving the Minister of Internal Affairs powers to implement the Act; and to provide for the expeditious freezing, seizure and forfeiture of assets and property suspected to be read more...

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Posted On: 02 Apr 2015

The cabinet of Uganda is considering amending the 1995 Constitution. A cabinet subcommittee chaired by the Prime Minister Hon. Amama Mbabazi is working on the proposed amendments which include; providing for an Independent Electoral Commission, limiting the age of the Electoral Commissioners, to stipulate grounds for recalling Members of Parliament (MPs), to establish a Salaries Commission and; to give more statutory powers to the President. There is also a proposal that parliament establishes a special court to hear cases related to  terrorism. The government also seeks to  introduce  a new article  specifying  grounds of refusal  to approve a presidential nominee  ‘to emphasize that  unless  a nominee  is not qualified the president  should be trusted  to make read more...

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Posted On: 08 Jan 2014

What is Observer Status?

Simply put, Observer status is a privilege granted by some organizations to non-members to give them an ability to participate in the organization's activities. Observer status is often granted by intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) to non-member organizations and international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) that have an interest in the IGO's activities. Observers generally have a limited ability to participate in the IGO, lacking the ability to vote or propose resolutions.

The African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) is one such entity that may grant observer status to certain organizations.  The Commission is a mechanism established in October 1987 with Headquarters in Banjul, the Gambia and tasked with read more...

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Posted On: 08 Oct 2013

Jacqueline Kasoma ( is the Head of Programmes at the Human Rights Centre Uganda (HRCU); she designed and was in overall charge of the project which is the subject of this policy and practice note. Jamie Hitchen ( has worked on governance and human rights issues in India, Uganda and Sierra Leone; in the course of his research assessing the situation facing human rights defenders in Uganda he observed four of the six community translations.


The UN Declaration on human rights defenders was designed to promote and protect the rights of individuals read more...

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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.

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