Putting human rights at the forefront of Parliament Business

Members of Parliament on the Standing Committee on Human Rights of the 10th Parliament in Uganda were in profound agreement that Parliament is the institution that has a key role in using their influence to urge government to take their reporting obligation seriously. This was at the training of Members of Parliament of the Human Rights Committee of Parliament which took place on 16 August 2016 at Royal Suites in Kampala – Uganda.

The Country Representative of the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner (OHCHR) Uganda Uchenna Emelonye pointed out, the international human rights mechanisms provide a worthwhile platform for action, because “Government’s failure to report greatly hinders the Treaty Bodies’ performance”

Encouraging Government to comply with their reporting obligations is key towards the realization of the promotion and protection of human rights in Uganda. It helps to break the cycle of delayed and overdue reporting and address the circumstances that make Government fail in the implementation of treaty body recommendations and concluding observations. 

Enhancing the efforts of the Human Rights Committee in Parliament in disseminating the recommendations of international mechanisms is essential in this process. That is partly the purpose of the training for Members of the Human Rights Committee of Parliament which focused on Human Rights and the practical implementation of the Human Rights Checklist of Parliament. The checklist is a tool developed by the human rights committee with technical support from OHCHR and the Human Rights Center – Uganda, to ensure and determine that a rights based approach informs the work of Parliament and is reflected in Bills, programmes, budgets and other government policies introduced in Parliament.

 “The checklist provides guidance to Members of Parliament when analyzing bills that are presented before them to check compliance with human rights standards”, said Jovah Kamateka, Chairperson of the Human Right Committee in Parliament. “It will promote accountability to the general public and work towards creating an atmosphere that is free of human rights abuses in Uganda. The objective is to put the human rights at the forefront of every parliamentary business”, she added.

The checklist is the result of a close collaboration between OHCHR Uganda, the Human Rights Center Uganda (HRC - U) and the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative among other human rights-focused organizations.

“The checklist will be used as a guide in examining the recommendations of the Uganda Human Rights Commission, in accordance with a human rights based approach”, said Jovah Kamateka, Chairperson Human Rights Committee in Parliament. “We urge Parliament to adopt a human rights based approach in all parliamentary business, and find the checklist very useful and apply it as part of the rules and procedures of Parliament.” she added.