- Ugandan human rights groups have urged the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to carry out recommendations of the Uganda Human Rights Commission and appoint independent commissioners to monitor human rights abuses in the country.
According to a letter addressed to President Museveni from Human Rights Network-Uganda, the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative and Human Rights Watch, Uganda's constitution mandates the establishment of the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) as the main independent government agency to monitor human rights abuses and recommend change.
The rights organisations are calling for the appointment of members of a new body mandated by a 2005 constitutional amendment, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC).
However, the organisations said the government has not consistently adopted its recommendations, and parliament only held its first discussion of UHRC recommendations made over the last decade in May 2009.
Recommendations by the UHRC that have not been implemented include: criminalising torture; granting commission staff unannounced and unfettered access to all areas of detention, including military barracks, as required by law; promptly awarding compensation to victims of human rights abuses as determined by the commission; and completing the establishment of district human rights committees.
The Africa director at Human Rights Watch, Georgette Gagnon said government should be robustly supporting the work of the Uganda Human Rights Commission and acting quickly on its recommendations each year. "The Ugandan government often states its commitment to human rights, but actions speak louder than words," the Africa director said.
Human Rights Watch also said the UHRC was impaired for six months until May 2009 because President Museveni did not appoint new commissioners when the previous commissioners' term expired.
“The lapse obstructed critical operations of the commission's work, including adjudication of compensation determinations for victims of human rights abuses and public presentation of information and investigations,” the organisation said.
On May 18, President Museveni appointed new commissioners, but over 1 billion shillings (US$454,000) awarded by the commission in human rights cases since 2003 remains unpaid, according to the rights groups.
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