The role of civil society in ensuring the protection and promotion of human rights is crucial during election time.

At a training of youth networks on human rights in the context of the 2020- 2021 elections in Uganda, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Country Representative in Uganda, Mr Robert Kotchani, underscored the role of civil society in ensuring the protection and promotion of human rights. Civil society organisations play an important role in the protection and promotion of human rights particularly during election time and “should be capacitated to bring the youth to the centre of conflict-prevention interventions”, he added.

In his remarks at the opening of a three-day training workshop of 33 youth (12men and 21 women) on human rights and the youth during the electoral process 2020/21, Mr Kotchani emphasized that the training was aimed at equipping the participants with the skills in detecting, documenting and reporting human rights violations while observing the elections “so that necessary preventive and corrective measures can be taken by relevant bodies at the national, regional and international levels.”    

The training is one of several activities planned under the Peacebuilding Fund – a joint project by the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Uganda, UNDP, UNFPA and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Uganda. The project recognizes the central role of the youth and women in sustaining peace in the prevention of conflict. Mr Kotchani expressed appreciation to the cooperation and collaboration of the two key implementing partners – the Citizen’s Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) and the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI).

While speaking at the same training, the Head of FHRI, Dr Livingstone Sewanyana urged the youth observers to monitor and report about the ingredients of what constitutes a “free, fair and inclusive election,” which are; neutral enforcement of election laws, freedom of all candidates to campaign, access to resources, and access to the media. “Access to the media is a very important ingredient in elections, as those who have more access to the public are likely to influence the outcome of the elections.” Dr Sewamyana noted. These remarks come at a time when the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has issued a directive requiring all bloggers and internet data services providers to register with them, through the directive has since been halted by Government for further scrutiny.