The 2021 General Election is a systematic periodic five-year gapped event that is happening in unparalleled times.
The observation of human rights is principal during an election and even now, while we live in the realities of a pandemic and what has been termed a “scientific” campaign strategy.
The period between the lockdown and during the partial lifting of it have been filled with a reckless intemperance of human rights in an ever-increasing wave.
The law enforcement bodies have been caught in a web of human rights abuse, unlawful killings and torture of Ugandans.
In the wake of the election cycle, there has been increased reports on the infringement of the freedom of movement, assembly and association. There is also an increased curtail of dissent that evidently portray that the election process has more inclination to preserve a particular group over another. This certainly has a bearing on the very meaning of democratic, free and fair elections.
The increasing numbers of assaults caused by Local Defence Unit personnel and other security forces has had many human rights bodies demand withdrawal of the army and LDUs from the streets.
It is imperative to note, that the recent court martialling of soldiers caught on camera battering the Mityana District chairperson were only but a tip of the iceberg of many other assaults Ugandans have suffered at the hands of security officials.
The Uganda Human Rights commissioner in a recent press conference noted that while they can book human rights violation cases, they cannot hear them due to lack of a chairman. However, the Commission says while we take note of the many violations happening, Ugandans need to work towards key actions in mitigating an erosion of the laws and defend their inherent rights.
As we plan for an unprecedented election, tracking human rights violations and bringing to book the violators will help Ugandans forge a solution to the explosive events that happen during the election cycle.
Without a doubt, the rules of engagement are new and prone to distortion, misinterpretation and outright violation. Therefore, it is our mandate as the electorate to equip ourselves with the guidelines of the Electoral Commission and ask questions where clarity seems deem.
Every Ugandan is a human rights defender and as such should be the first enforcer of their rights and as well be whistle-blowers during this election season.
Ignorance of the law is no defence; it is therefore imperative on every Ugandan to know the law and their responsibilities as provided for in the law.
Human rights bodies have the mandate to provide human rights violations trackers for all participants and put to record the violations during this election cycle. In so doing, the electorate can then bank on bringing to justice those caught abusing their human rights statutes and justice be served.
The times have changed and an awakening into such a reality will require every Ugandan to be proactive and involved in shaping and reviving the economy and the political process of Uganda. Every effort in protecting our human rights is going to count.
Ms Tricia Gloria Nabaye, R esident Research Associate: Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies