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OHCHR in Uganda (2010-2011)


Human rights context

 

OHCHR’s Uganda country office was established in July 2005 and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the Government of Uganda in January 2006. The mandate initially focused on the human rights situation in the conflict-affected areas of northern and north-eastern Uganda (Karamoja). The office’s mandate was renewed in October 2009 for two years and broadened to cover the whole country.

OHCHR has six sub-regional offices in Gulu, Kitgum (Acholiland), Lira (Lango), Soroti (Teso), Moroto and Kotido (Karamoja), in addition to its head office in Kampala. The Office’s programme of work focuses on building national institutional capacity and ownership for the protection and promotion of human rights in collaboration with the wide range of national institutions and civil society organizations dealing with human rights issues in Uganda. The Office cooperates with the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), which was established under article 51(1) of the Constitution to protect and promote human rights. It is compliant with the Paris Principles. The Office also assists civil society organizations; takes the lead in human rights mainstreaming with UN partners in the UNDAF process, participating in joint programs, the Peacebuilding Fund (2010-2012) and the UNPRAP; implements its human rights monitoring and reporting mandate; and provides support for national legislative and policy reforms as well as for the establishment of transitional justice mechanisms.

After more than 20 years of conflict in the north of the country, a relative period of peace started and led to the return of most of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and the closure of the IDP camps during 2009 and 2010. The return of IDPs is however characterized by poor basic social services including lack of access to education, health care and land, making it a serious challenge for sustainable development. Access to justice is also a major concern. The government and international actors moved thus from a focus on humanitarian assistance toward development assistance and recovery.

In the Karamoja region, the forceful disarmament process led by the national army (UPDF) since 2006 raised a series of human rights concerns with regard to the right to life, bodily integrity and personal liberty. The deployment of Uganda Police Force (UPF) in all sub-counties in 2010 constituted progress toward the demilitarization of the security services in Karamoja. Despite the Government’s efforts to address economic social and cultural rights issues in Karamoja, progress is limited. Karamoja remains underdeveloped and marginalized compared to national standards, vulnerable to the impact of droughts and depicting the worst indicators of human development in the country. The Office works towards ensuring the integration of a human rights perspective into ongoing policy discussions about development perspectives in Karamoja, including on pastoralism.

Among emerging national challenges is the recent terrorist attacks (11 July 2010) by Al Shabaab in Kampala and ongoing threats which raises concerns about human rights protection while countering terrorism.
Presidential, Parliamentary and local government elections continue to draw attention to the state of public freedoms and civil and political rights.

Although Uganda has adopted a number of legal instruments for the protection of vulnerable groups, the implementation phase is progressing slowly. Discrimination as well as sexual and gender-based violence is a matter of major concern. Women, persons with disabilities, people living with HIV/AIDS, LGBTIs and especially vulnerable individuals among the remaining IDP and returnee population are still facing challenges in enjoying human rights on an equal basis.

 

 

Achievements in 2010

 

The Office provided technical assistance and advice on a wide range of human rights issues to the Government, especially to the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, local governments, national police (UPF), armed forces (UPDF), Prisons Administration, Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS), and to the Law Reform Commission. Most results were achieved in the area of legal and policy advice at both national and local level. Further, the Office strengthened the capacities of CSOs and the media on monitoring and reporting on human rights issues.

Collaboration was strengthened with the Government for the operationalization of the human rights based IDP and return policy in Northern Uganda through the establishment of district level human rights protection committees, integration of a human rights based approach into respective district planning and development interventions, and for the deployment of civilian institutions for law enforcement and the administration of justice in northern Uganda.

Victim’s participation in the reparation scheme and witness and victims protection in Transitional Justice was fostered through awareness raising, research activities and consultation processes.

 

Priorities in 2011

 

The main priorities of OHCHR Uganda are:

  • To coordinate efforts with the Government towards the full realization of all civil, political, economic social and cultural rights;
  • To especially support the UPR process with Government, civil society UN Country Team and other stakeholders; assist government and civil society in reporting to Treaty Bodies and the implementation of their recommendations; 
  • To promote the realization of economic, social and cultural rights, including the rights to housing and food, land rights, right to health and education in particular for women and vulnerable persons in areas affected by or recovering from conflict and insecurity;
  • To continue to support the Government and the UHRC in the implementation of the human rights based return policy in Northern Uganda, and the prioritization of human rights in the ongoing disarmament and transition process in the Karamoja region;
  • To promote the rights of victims in the process of transitional, post-conflict justice, in particular the right to reparations, the right to truth, as well as the right to justice;
  • To advocate for and promote international human rights standards with regard to public freedoms and civil and political rights. At the same time, the Office will strengthen the capacities of the UHRC and civil society organizations to monitor and report on possible human rights violations;
  • To assist national institutions in the domestication and implementation of international instruments to counter discrimination against women and other vulnerable groups.

Contact Information

Headquarters

Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division
Geneva, Switzerland

Africa Section 
Tel. +41 22 928 9694
Geneva, Switzerland

Field

Tel: (256) 41 233 440
Kampala, Uganda
Email:

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