Human rights defenders yesterday gathered in Kampala to voice their distress following Monday’s incident where Ethics minister blocked the viewing of a movie chronicling their experiences.
Led by Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) chairperson Medi Kaggwa, the rights defenders in a joint statement said Mr Nsaba Buturo’s move was unconstitutional.
“The documentary was one of the series of activities aligned in commemoration of the International Human Rights Day on December 10 and its aim was to highlight the work of Human Rights Defenders and the challenges they face,” read the statement delivered by Mr. Kaggwa.
In Uganda, the UHRC spearheaded the activities to mark the day in partnership with the UN Office of the Higher Commissioner for Human Rights, the Human Rights Network –Uganda, the Human Rights Centre and other organisations who work as rights defenders.
But while justifying his action, Mr Buturo said the organisers wanted to indoctrinate the youth on homosexuality.
Mr Buturo told Daily Monitor that the organisers refused to delete the homosexual content in the documentary.
“Some people are determined to change the morals of our country and are using all tactics. We shall put up resistance because Uganda doesn’t believe in homosexuality,” he said, adding that 40 pupils were invited to watch the documentary.
“This is terrible. I told those people to shut up because they are supposed to defend our country,” Mr Buturo said.
Mr Kaggwa said the film only contains interviews of human rights defenders on their experiences and challenges in performing their work as well as recommendations for promotion of human rights especially among the minority groups such as women and people with disabilities.
In the documentary that was shown to journalists at UHRC headquarters, Mr Kikonyogo Kivumbi comments on the rights of the homosexuals to health services and cites the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that allows medical practitioners to report gay patients to police.
“We are giving a very strong voice to Parliament not to pass the Bill because it will discriminate against minority groups like the homosexuals. Uganda is committed to fighting HIV and Aids and when minorities are threatened with arrest, they will fear to go for medication and yet it is their right,” Mr Kivumbi says in the documentary.
This is what seems to have aroused Mr Buturo’s disquiet in the documentary, leading to blocking of its viewing at the National Theatre. Mr Buturo was not available for comment yesterday as his known mobile number remained unanswered.
Mr Kaggwa said children who were present at the function were invited to make presentations in the form of songs and poems on the theme of the day.
“We wish to categorically state that the UHRC, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Human Rights Centre and Hurinet can never expose children to inappropriate material,” said Mr Kaggwa.
The human rights boss quoted Article 54 of the Constitution saying the commission is independent and shall not, in performance of its duties, be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority.
He added that the documentary shall be screened for public viewing at an appropriate date in the near future.