Let us respect people’s rights

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Posted  Monday, December 30  2013 at  02:00

The Archbishop of Kampala Archdiocese, Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, recently issued a strong message about the abuse of human rights in Uganda, warning that this country is seated on a ‘time bomb’ if issues of human rights and good governance, among others, are not given due attention.

During his Christmas sermon at Rubaga Cathedral, the archbishop noted that “people’s rights must be guaranteed so that they do not “rise up” to demand for them.”
As we begin the countdown to the end of this year and look forward to 2014 – just two days away, it is important as a nation to reflect on Dr Lwanga’s message and similar statements issued by various religious leaders intended to steer our country in the right direction.

Violation of human rights has been variously cited and condemned not just by religious leaders but civil society organisations, activists, pressure groups and opposition politicians. Their concerns are not farfetched. We have witnessed and continue to experience many forms of rights violations in this country with very minimal efforts to restore civility in our society.

While rampant violations of human rights by security forces are common on the streets, especially during demonstrations by pressure groups and key oppositions politicians, rights abuses are widespread and go beyond harassment of the opposition and civilians on Kampala city streets.
A quick look at news reports this year indicates that violence against children – a human rights violation – is unacceptably high. Children are being defiled, tortured, subjected to child labour and denied basic rights by the very adults who are supposed to protect them. This and other forms of rights violations, including violence in homes and denial of freedoms of expressions and media freedoms, torture in detention centres, among others, should concern us and compel us to take action.

It is the government’s duty to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of all citizens. The government should, therefore, give due attention to the high rate of violence, murders, rape and high-handedness of security forces by taking practical steps to restore sanity.
As Archbishop Lwanga advised, Uganda’s problems should be resolved amicably through dialogue, not violence.