Protect human rights, initiate dialogue on Uganda’s political future
Following the unrest during the Arua by-election last week, Oxfam in Uganda calls upon government to respect the rights of those arrested and initiate inclusive national dialogues to address Uganda’s human rights, governance and political issues. The dozens of people, including MPs and women who were allegedly tortured and produced in court in a terrible medical state, are all human beings who deserve justice and respect for their human rights. Human rights are not given to Ugandans as a favour by the state, they are inalienable and accrue naturally to everybody. The state therefore has a duty to protect human dignity, the right to life, freedom from torture, women’s rights, as well as civic space and the rule of law. The recent events threaten these rights and tarnish Uganda’s global image.
Uganda is party to several human rights instruments, including the Convention on Civil and Political Rights, The Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. These Conventions, together with Uganda’s Constitution, are all clear on the need for the state to protect all human rights regardless of political affiliation, sex or social standing. Nobody should have to fear for their life or security as a result of exercising their rights.
We further call upon government to ensure independence of the judiciary and a speedy trial to those charged with offences. Media should be given access to credible information to avoid public suspicion and unease. Allegations of torture meted on those arrested by security forces should be quickly investigated, perpetrators brought to book and victims given quality medical treatment and psychological support from professionals of their choice. The Ugandan government, a beacon of peace that has opened its doors to refugees across the region, should quickly start conversations about the political future of the country to avoid future conflict and the dire consequences that come with it.