Human rights violations high in judicial system – UHRC Report

The Chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), Med Kaggwa, has noted the high level of human rights violation in the judicial and legal system of the country.

This was during the Commission’s presentation of the 21st annual report for the year 2018 to the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga on Friday, 14 June 2019 in Kampala.

“In the report, UHRC established human rights violations in the legal system especially in the retention of suspects beyond legal time and also the delay of people held on remand up to 10 years,” Kaggwa said.

He noted that there were also other concerns to do with unlawful incarceration, congestion in detention facilities, lack of fair hearings, access to justice and legal counsel and inadequate judges among others.

Citing feedback from her visits to different prisons, Kadaga said people had raised concern about the want for the prerogative of mercy and amnesty.

“I was hoping that people could at least be set free on Independence Day and the older people be pardoned so that they can spend the remaining time of their lives with their families,” she said.

The Commission also took note of the overwhelming breach of human rights in as far as the food industry is concerned.

Kaggwa said that there is no particular institution to examine and monitor the food quality and supply in the markets every day.

“There is a concern about the use of formalin in beef, use of harmful pesticides in maize, groundnuts and many other food crops which could cause cancer,” he added.

The Commission noted that the increase in refugee numbers had altered the life of their host communities. “There is accelerated conversion of land from natural vegetation cover to farmland, demand of firewood and other services like health and education,” Kaggwa said.

In response, the Speaker noted that the refugees’ rights are more respected than those of the citizenry. “I found out in one of the refugee camps that when lining up for water at the boreholes, the refugees are given priority over the locals; that itself is an injustice and must stop,” she said.

Kadaga added that the refugees have also had a huge negative impact on the environment because they put pressure on some of the natural resources like use of more firewood which depletes the tree cover faster.

The Speaker revealed that she had requested the global organisation responsible for refugees to find a solution for the negative impacts on the society caused by refugee influx. She further promised to raise the matters in the Commission report on the Floor of Parliament.