15 March, 2022

Remarks by Mr. Robert Kotchani, OHCHR - Uganda Country Representative 

17 March 2022                                                                     

  • The Representative of the Principal Judge, Hon. Justice Phillip Odoki;
  • The Chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission and Representatives of the Uganda Human Rights Commission, Ms. Mariam Wangadya;
  • The Vice President of Uganda Law Society, Ms. Dianah Angwech;
  • Distinguished representatives from the Judiciary, Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, Judicial Training Institute, Judicial Service Commission, Uganda Law Society, Uganda Police Force, Uganda Prisons Service, academia, media and Civil Society Organisations;
  • Ladies and Gentlemen.

Good morning

It is with great pleasure that I address you this morning. As the Uganda Country Representative of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (also known as the UN Human Rights Office), I welcome you all here today to the Symposium aimed at appraising the operationability of the Human Rights Enforcement Act (2019). This activity is organized through a collaboration between the Uganda Human Rights Commission, Uganda Law Society and the UN Human Rights Office. Allow me therefore, to seize this opportunity to express the gratitude of my Office to the Uganda Human Rights Commission and the Uganda Law Society for this great collaboration. Today’s Symposium is one of several activities relating to the Human Rights Enforcement Act that have been jointly supported by the Uganda Human Rights Commission, the Uganda Law Society and the UN Human Rights Office. Towards the end of 2021 and as part of this collaboration, we started with a series of regional activities to popularize and disseminate the Human Rights Enforcement Act and I am delighted that we have now progressed to the point of having this Symposium today.

To all participants, I thank you very much for taking out time from your very busy schedules to participate in this important event. We convene here today to engage in an open discussion on the use of the Human Rights Enforcement Act (also commonly referred to as the H.R.E.A.) to promote and protect human rights. Arguably, the HREA is the most progressive human rights instrument that has been enacted in Uganda, since the promulgation of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda, which contains a Bill of Rights. The HREA gives effect to Article 50(4) of the Constitution, which provides that: “Parliament shall make laws for the enforcement of the rights and freedoms under this Chapter.” In addition, the HREA gives effect to Uganda’s regional and international human rights obligations including the 1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Essentially, the HREA seeks to ease processes through which litigants can approach the courts of law to seek remedies for human rights violations. While these are positive steps towards promoting and protecting human rights in Uganda, the practicalities relating to the implementation of the HREA require interrogation. That is why we are here today – to have a constructive dialogue on the challenges and opportunities for the operationability of the HREA and to seek ways of ensuring that the HREA provisions, including those relating to Bail, align with some of the Constitutional Provisions that were amended in 2005.

In order for the HREA to be purposeful, as was intended, we need to reflect on the best ways to make it operational and effective in ensuring the protection of human rights. It is my sincere hope that through this Symposium and together as key actors in the administration of justice as well as in the promotion and protection of human rights in Uganda, we are able to form consensus on the best ways to ensure that the HREA is operationable. I, therefore really look forward to us sharing our views today regarding the challenges and opportunities for operationalising the HREA.

As I conclude, I would like to, once again, thank the UHRC and the ULS and to express the commitment of the UN Human Rights Office to continue this collaboration, as we work together towards enhancing the promotion and protection of human rights in Uganda. 

Thank you all for your kind attention and I wish you fruitful deliberations!