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THE HUMAN RIGHTS CENTRE UGANDA

Defending Human Rights Defenders


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PRESS STATEMENT ON THE CONCEPT OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

The Commemoration of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is a reminder that Human Rights Defenders have a special role in ensuring access to justice and an effective remedy. In order to do this, HRDs continue to work individually or in association with others to promote or protect human rights in a peaceful manner.

It is for this reason that the Human Rights Centre (HRCU) in partnership with the Coalition against Torture (CAT) are pleased to organise a press conference under the theme, “Rehabilitate Survivors, bring perpetrators to Account”.

In order to ensure the rehabilitation of survivors of torture and ensure accountability for acts of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment; HRDs have to be free to especially promote and protect civil and political rights. This encompasses freedoms including from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment; right to personal liberty which addresses issues of arbitrary arrest and detention; freedom of speech and expression; freedom of assembly and movement; right to a fair trial and hearing; and the right to an effective remedy. It is of necessity then that special attention is accorded to HRDs working with vulnerable groups including women and juvenile offenders, refugees and journalists.

We need to remember that the majority of HRDS work at the local/ grass roots level. It is because of this strategic placement that HRDs have continued to monitor the situation of HRDs specifically concerning freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment; provide legal advice, represent victims; counsel and rehabilitate survivors of torture; and refer human rights violations of freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment to mechanisms including the Uganda Human Rights Commission and ordinary courts.

A significant number of defenders have established organisations,that focus exclusively on ending impunity for violations. HRDS have also worked to strengthen the capacity of the state to prosecute perpetrators of violations, for example by providing human rights training for duty bearers like state prosecutors and police officers among others.

A very large proportion of the activities of human rights defenders can be characterized as acting in support of victims of human rights violations. Investigating and reporting on violations especially torture can help end ongoing violations, prevent their repetition and assist victims in taking their cases to courts. Some human rights defenders provide professional legal advice and represent victims in the judicial process. Others provide victims with counseling, treatment and rehabilitation support.

A significant number of defenders, frequently through organizations established for the purpose, focus exclusively on ending impunity for violations. The same groups of defenders also work to strengthen the State’s capacity to prosecute perpetrators of violations, for example by providing human rights training for duty bearers like state prosecutors, police officers among others.

As I conclude, I would like to call upon all the duty bearers to implement the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act and its corresponding Regulations as one of the ways of rehabilitating survivors and bringing perpetrating to book.

 Margaret Sekaggya

Executive Director

The Human Rights Centre Uganda






 
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