Minister faults human rights defenders for reluctance to push Bill

The state Minister for Agriculture Mr Fred Bwino Kyakulaga speaks during a public dialogue in Jinja City on International Day of human rights Defenders.  PHOTO/ ABUBAKER KIRUNDA

What you need to know:

  • He said protecting human rights is a “mandatory programme” for the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government.

The State Minister for Agriculture, Mr Fred Bwino Kyakulaga, has faulted human rights defenders for allegedly being “slow” in pushing Parliament to fast-track the Human Rights Defenders’ Bill.

The Bill, fronted by West Budama Member of Parliament, Mr Fox Odoi, seeks to foster stronger partnerships and collaboration between the government and human rights defenders, while promoting adherence to international human rights standards and best practices.
However, Mr Kyakulaga says the Bill is “dying away”, and urged all human rights defenders to be close to the government as a partner in their struggle to defend abuses of human rights.

He added that protecting human rights is a “mandatory programme” for the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government.
Mr Kyakulaga made the revelation during a public dialogue organised by the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders ahead of the International Day of Human Rights Defenders celebrations on Saturday.

Mr Kyakulaga says the government is committed to supporting human rights and organisations protecting abuses of human rights; however, their effort is at times frustrated by those defending human rights abuses.
“I always sit in Cabinet and Parliament, but I am surprised that there was no brief about this day,’’ he said, adding that human rights defenders tend to work in isolation yet the government has got a big role to play in the course of achieving their goals.

He said involving the government, especially line ministries like Justice and Constitutional Affairs, would enable them have a platform for debating their issues.
“When the NRM government came to power in 1986, the first thing done was to constitute a special organ to research on issues of human rights abuses,’’ Mr Kyakulaga explained.

The executive director of the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders, Mr Robert Kirenga, says they have not lost hope in the Bill and are working around the clock for it to return to the Floor of Parliament.
He, however, noted that the issues of human rights abuses still come up in the country, and urged the populace not to lose hope because the defenders are there to advocate for them.