Dr Spire, two others shortlisted for EU human rights award

Dr Jim Spire Ssentongo. PHOTO/COURTESY  

What you need to know:

  • The winner of the award will be announced during a ceremony on May 2.

Dr Jimmy Spire Ssentongo, a renowned cartoonist and Makerere University don is among three people shortlisted for the EU Human Rights Defenders Award 2024 organised by the European Union in Uganda in partnership with Norwegian embassy.

The award, which is now in its 13th year, is given to a human rights defender who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of human rights in their community over one year.

According to EU, Dr Ssentongo was shortlisted for using his social media platform X to demand accountability from government.

“In the past year, Spire has used his public platform to highlight issues of accountability through “exhibitions” on social media. This has earned him significant praise but also threats due to his exposure of wrongdoing in public life,” the EU said in a statement issued Tuesday.

“Despite the risks, he has continued to share information and take part in public debates aimed at improving the quality of public service in Uganda,” they added.

Also shortlisted is Jesca Ruth Ataa, a human rights defender from Kotido, Karamoja.

She leads Nakere Rural Women Activists (NARWOA), an umbrella community-based organisation for women groups. NARWOA responds to humanitarian crises and addresses cross border and inter-ethnic political instability, the rise of warlords, domestic violence and discrimination of women in society. 

NARWOA has reached over 15,000 women and 250,000 children through programmes aimed at appropriate and viable income-generating activities.

Also shortlisted is Doreen Kyazze, a lawyer and human rights activist, who has campaigned against the death penalty.

“During the past fourteen years, including her time at Penal Reform International, Doreen has campaigned against the death penalty and worked hard to secure the rights of women in detention,” the EU said in a statement.

“She has worked across the region to push for a model law on crime prevention in Africa and has also trained police, prison staff and others in the justice sector. She has also been active in drafting progressive laws and policies in Uganda,” they added.

The winner of the award will be announced during a ceremony at the Danish embassy in Kampala on May 2.

“We salute each of the HRDs for their excellent work in defence of the rights of others,” EU observed.