GENEVA (4 August 2023) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk today expressed deep regret at the closure of his office in Uganda, following the Government’s decision not to renew the Host Country Agreement. The office in Kampala will officially cease its operations on Saturday. Sub-offices in Gulu and Moroto closed on 30 June and 31 July.
“I regret that our office in Uganda had to close after 18 years, during which we were able to work closely with civil society, people from various walks of life in Uganda, as well as engaging with State institutions for the promotion and protection of the human rights of all Ugandans,” said Türk.
Since the establishment of the office in 2005, we have engaged closely with the Government and other partners on a range of human rights issues, including working with the authorities to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals into its national planning frameworks, as well as advising on bringing domestic legislation into compliance with international human rights laws and standards. In 2021, with the office’s support to the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Uganda became the second country in Africa to adopt a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights.
“Much progress has been made in the country over the years, but serious human rights challenges remain in the path to full enjoyment of human rights for all,” the High Commissioner said.
Türk expressed particular concern about the human rights situation in Uganda ahead of the 2026elections, given the increasingly hostile environment in which human rights defenders, civil society actors and journalists are operating.
He noted that most of the 54 NGOs that were arbitrarily suspended in August 2021 remain closed. The High Commissioner also expressed concerns that the amended Computer Misuse law may further erode free expression.
Türk warned against retrogression from Uganda’s commitments under the international human rights treaties it has ratified, including in the passage of the deeply discriminatory and harmful anti-homosexuality law, that is already having a negative impact on Ugandans.
Türk urged the Government to ensure the national human rights body can function effectively and independently, as the the main body tasked with human rights oversight in Uganda.
“The Uganda Human Rights Commission, our long-standing partner in the protection and promotion of human rights in the country, is chronically under-funded and under-staffed, and reports of political interference in its mandate undermine its legitimacy, independence and impartiality,” he said.
“I urge the Ugandan government to provide the Commission with adequate human, technical and financial resources so that it may more effectively execute its important mandate.”
“On our part, the UN Human Rights Office remains committed to working on human rights in Uganda, in line with my global mandate,” he added.
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