The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Norbert Mao intends to use dialogue as a strategy to tackle human rights violations.
Mao made this commitment while responding to the report of the Committee on Human Rights on the state of human rights and human rights violations in the country from January 2020 to date.
The committee report that was adopted during a plenary sitting on Thursday, 18 August 2022exposed violation of fundamental rights of Ugandans.
Notable was a case of the raid on the Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu kingdom in 2016, in which the report revealed that a joint state security operation of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces and Uganda Police Force raided and attacked the offices of the king in Kasese Town on the 26 November and later the palace on 27 November 2016.
Mao said that in such scenarios where gross human rights violations were committed and not tackled, the country needs healing.
“If we are to treat root causes of human rights violations, then we have to go beyond these recommendations. We must talk to Ugandans, we must deal with grievances and it will not be politicians doing this. The ministry is developing proposals and they will deal with bleeding wounds like torture,” he said.
He added that the Ministry of Justice will promote a Cabinet Standing Committee on Human Rights as a way of addressing the increasing human rights violations in the country.
“This will be a clearing house where ministers will talk to each other about issues of human rights,” he said.
Mao also condemned torture of suspects and their unlawful detention saying that Article 24 of the Constitution prohibits torture.
“We are concerned about illegally detained, brutalised and tortured suspects being brought to the courts of law. It is not a good spectacle when someone is brought limping for trial with obvious injuries and in great pain,” he said.
He called for collective effort to end impunity saying that the matter needs to be tamed.
“It is the duty of Parliament to deal with untamed power. How do we tame power? That is the question we have to answer together,” Mao said.
He added that the additional recruitment of members of the Judiciary will address the issue of case backlog.
Bugiri Municipality MP, Hon. Asuman Basalirwa accused security operatives of impunity, albeit the several laws against violations of human rights.
“You go to a detention facility and they tell you that orders from above; we cannot allow you to access this facility. The country is not short of elaborate legal regime but agencies and individuals continue to violate human rights. Where is the problem and how do we deal with it,” Basalirwa said.
Hon. Paul Akamba (NRM, Busiki County) said that the level at which human rights are violated is worrying and alarming.
“I would like to urge the Minister of Justice to take up this matter seriously. He is well aware of whatever is addressed in this report. Ugandans are suffering, their rights are being violated with impunity. People who violate these rights are untouchable,” Akamba said.
Chief Opposition Whip, Hon. John Baptist Nambeshe recommended transformation of the Human Rights Committee into an accountability Committee chaired by the Opposition.
“The right to bail is enshrined in Article 23 of the Constitution but we have seen people even granted bail and re-arrested by those not in uniform. These are excesses that we can keep in check without fear or favour, if the committee is transformed,” Nembeshe said.