Cabinet sets up committee to fight human rights abuse

Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Mr Norbert Mao, will chair the subcommittee. PHOTO | FILE

Government has established a nine-member sub-committee to address human rights abuse.

The decision was reached during the October 31 cabinet meeting chaired by President Museveni.

The Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Mr Norbert Mao, who will chair the subcommittee, said it would: “…provide an institutional framework at a strategic level to spearhead a coordinated and holistic approach to human rights.”

Mr Mao will be deputised by Internal Affairs minister Kahinda Otafiire. Other members are the Attorney General,  Secretary General of NRM, ministers of Defence, ICT, Gender, Labour and Social Development, Security, among others.

Merits

Dr Chris Baryomunsi, the Minister of Information and National Guidance, said the subcommittee would strengthen monitoring and reporting issues on human rights.

“It is a subcommittee of Cabinet put in place to support monitoring and reporting on issues of human rights in the country. The decision was taken in 2011 so it’s just being actualised by the current minister,” he said.

The committee comes in the wake of numerous reports of human rights abuses, where state apparatus, especially security agencies have been implicated.

The Opposition has repeatedly accused the State of illegal and arbitrary arrests, torture and enforced disappearances. 

Dr Baryomunsi, however, distanced the move to have any connection with the public outcry on human rights abuses. “It has nothing to do with the Opposition outcry or whoever is crying, but we thought we could strengthen the function of monitoring human rights in the country,” he said.

He added: “The committee is to support the relevant ministers dealing in human rights issues with additional efforts so that there is timely reporting but also that when there reports coming to Cabinet, this committee will have time to scrutinise them to reduce the time Cabinet has been spending to look through them.”

Others say

The Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, Executive Director, Mr Livingstone Sewanyana, said the committee faces a daunting task at cleaning the country’s tainted record

“I hope it won’t be an additional mechanism that does not offer any meaningful help. Many institutions and mechanisms have been established and yet actions against perpetrators have not been realised,” Mr Sewanyana said.

He advised those assigned to cooperate with all stakeholders, including non-government organisations.

Uganda also has the Human Rights Commission mandated to promote and protect human rights and freedoms in the country. 


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