Recognising the Life and Inherent Dignity of all Ugandans is Necessary for Pathways to Durable Peace

Compiled Sylvie Namwase

Yesterday (the 22nd September 2022) was the Peace Day. Ugandans have faced insurmountable levels of violence tracing back to the precolonial to colonial and post-colonial times. An increasing number of studies in epigenetics and sociology support the idea that generational trauma can be passed down through epochs of time and even affect entire communities or nations, including holding them bonded to low self-worth and indignity. As Ugandans our healing from violent pasts will involve leaming about these pasts in more honest, objective, deeper and intimate ways than we have been taught in school, understanding the many ways in which these experiences affected our predecessors and tracing how they show up in our present reality. This holistic approach can lead us to more compassion for each other and to new ways of seeing and acknowledging each other’s dignity regardless of where we come from. It would lead us to a more collective consciousness that these pasts should not be repeated or sustained and that we all owe each other a duty to heal as a nation. This is a powerful safeguard against violent conflict as it transcends many of the limitations we put on our humanity as Ugandans.

To this end, it is necessary that Ugandans continue to reject any and all ideologies that seek to instil and entrench feelings of worthlessness or indignity including suggestions that victims of violence including police violence or security forces’ excessive force, torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, disappearances, among other such violations deserve what they get, or that violence is the only language they understand” or suggestions that fifty or one hundred victims of such violence is no cause for concern. These are perspectives starkly commensurate with the colonial times where Ugandans were regarded by a foreign colonising force as subhuman, and are a reflection of the collective trauma from state violence passed down through that turbulent history into the present day We can and must extricate ourselves from this past. To remain silent would be to acquiesce to dictations of our worthlessness and indignity. Many scholars of the subject agree that inaction including on the part of victims of violence-be it state violence, intimate partner violence, or structured violence-is a critical part of the process of normalising it. Thus, protest against violence however minimal is necessary to reaffirm to oneself and assert to one’s violator, one’s sense humanity, self-worth and dignity, To this end, calls should continue for the investigation and prosecution of unlawful killings perpetrated through the use of excessive force by Ugandan security forces during the November riots, the walk to work protests, the 2016 violence in Kasese, the Apaa land conflict and violent disarmament in Karamoja, among other such recorded excesses.

The necessary work of our healing would also require a varied array of actors including academia, media, civil society, security forces and religious leaders, among others. A multidisciplinary approach from academia would especially be insightful with historians, lawyers, anthropologists, philosophers, sociologists, psychologists among other disciplines informing robust dialogue and debate with emotional intelligence, publications and dissemination on the question of violence in Uganda and pathways to dignity and durable peace. Lawyers have some very foundational work to do relating to reform and clarification of the law particularly as it relates to the use of force by state security forces as one of the main legacies of violence at a macro level. Here is it important to reassert that the law on the use of force by security actors in Uganda is grounded in the preservation of the right to life which is accorded an especially high threshold of protection under the 1995 Constitution. Moreover colonial standards that have purported to indemnify the police for deaths or harm arising from excessive use of force have been struck down by the Constitutional Court in Moses Mwandha versus Attorney General Constitutional Petition No. 5 of 2007 Lawyers should explore ways in which these adjudicated decisions and principles can be implemented through law reform and how similar old colonial laws which bear the blue print for our collective maltreatment and indignity are expunged from the standards which govern human life in Uganda With such expunging, we can inscribe new standards on how the state can apply force to implement the mandate given to it to maintain law and order without abusing its power and while protecting human life and dignity, which is inherent in all Ugandans.

Finally, for our reflection on this Peace: As part of a global black collective which continues to experience some of the most extreme forms of violence across the world, how can we continue to demand for dignity when we cannot accord it to ourselves within our own local domains of power and control?

Sylvie Namwase is a Post Doctorate researcher, at the Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC), Makerere University.

The above text was published in the New Vision on the 21st day of September 2022 to commemorate the Peace Day.

HURIPEC Features in Parliamentary Report on the State of Human Rights Violations.

The Parliament of Uganda has released a report titled “Report of the Committee on Human Rights on the State of Human Rights and Human Rights Violations in the Country from January 2020 to – date” where the members of the Committee on Human Rights of parliament (the “Committee”) sought to inquire into the human rights and human rights situation from January 2020 to June 2022, and the prolonged detention of the Royal Guards of the Obusinga Bwa Renzururu who have been in detention since 2016.

In order to come up with its findings on the issues, the Committee held meetings with a number of ministries, departments and agencies, political parties, Non – Governmental Organizations, informal groups of persons and several individuals who provided memoranda on the same.

The Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC) was among the institutions that provided an insight on the issues understudy. These findings are presented under Section 4.5 of the report for a perspective on Civil Society Organizations. We provided insights on a number of issues that affected the enjoyment of human rights in Uganda in the period 2020 – 2020 both in the areas of civil and political, as well as economic, social and cultural rights. These focused on abductions, deaths and extra judicial killings, the narrowing civic space, the right to privacy and management of personal data, persistent use of torture and disregard of the right to bail by state security agencies and the effects of COVID – 19 on human rights enjoyment.

A copy of the report can be accessed via this link for an expansive reading on the findings. You can access our insights from pages 56 – 61 of the report.

Drs. Busingye, Naluwairo and Zahara Promoted by the Makerere University Appointments Board

The Makerere University Appointments Board has promoted the teaching positions of 3 staff members of the Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC) Dr. Ronald Naluwairo, Dr. Busingye Kabumba, Dr. Zahara Nampewo. The professors also double are teachers of law at the School of Law and at HURIPEC.

Dr. Busingye Kabumba, Dr. Zahara Nampewo who have been serving as lecturers have been appointed and promoted to the positions of Senior Lecturers, while Dr. Ronald Naluwairo formerly a Senior Lecturer has been promoted to the position of Associate Professor.

Dr. Zahara will also continue to double, both as a lecturer (now Senior Lecturer) and the Director of HURIPEC.

The appointments were announced on the 6th day of July 2022 following the 690th meeting of the appointment board. The appointments were however not the only ones made by the board, as promotions from other schools and departments of Makerere University were made.

Congratulations to Dr. Ronald Naluwairo, Dr. Busingye Kabumba, Dr. Zahara Nampewo on the appointments.

Video: Panel Discussion on Unlawful Detention in Uganda.

The Human Rights and Peace Centre in conjunction with the Human Rights Watch hosted Symposium on Unlawful Detention in Uganda. The event took place on the 30th day of June 2022, at the School of Law, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.

The panelists for the discussion were the Hon. Winnie Kiiza (Former Leader of Opposition, Interim Committee Member, Alliance for National Transformation), Brig. Gen. Felix Kulayigye (Spokesperson, Uganda People’s Defence Forces), Dr. Zahara Nampewo (Director, HURIPEC) and Kenneth Roth (Executive Director, Human Rights Watch). Prof. Joe Oloka – Onyango (Law Don, Makerere University, School of Law) will moderate the panel discussion while Dr. Busingye (Law Don, Makerere University, School of Law) will deliver the key note address.

Below is the video recording of the session.

Call for Papers: East African Journal of Peace and Human Rights (EAJPHR)

The East African Journal of Peace and Human Rights (EAJPHR) invites submission of abstracts for papers for publication in our next Edition/Issue.

The EAJPHR is an international, peer-reviewed, bi-annual scholarly publication of the Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC) of the School of Law, Makerere University. The Journal has since its inception in 1993 remained at the forefront of igniting intellectual and policy debates on contemporary governance and human rights issues in the East African region and beyond. It seeks to provide a platform to scholars and practitioners in the fields of governance and human rights to disseminate cuttingedge research and share knowledge and experiences.

The abstracts which should not exceed 400 words should highlight recent trends, practices and emerging issues impacting on governance, human rights and fundamental freedoms with a view to produce a critical assessment of the same within the region.

Deadline for submission of abstracts is 30th June 2022. Authors of accepted abstracts will be required to submit full papers by 15 August 2022.

Interested authors should submit their abstract to the following addresses:
Managing Editor: Dr. Zahara Nampewo; Email: zahara.nampewo@mak.ac.ug and Assistant Editor: Francis Xavier Birikadde; fbirikadde@gmail.com

Panel Discussion: Symposium on Unlawful Detentions in Uganda

The Human Rights and Peace Centre will in conjunction with the Human Rights Watch host a Symposium on Unlawful Detention in Uganda. The event is scheduled to take place on the 30th day of June 2022, at the School of Law, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, starting at 2pm.

Among the panelists for the discussion include the Hon. Winnie Kiiza (Former Leader of Opposition, Interim Committee Member, Alliance for National Transformation), Brig. Gen. Felix Kulayigye (Spokesperson, Uganda People’s Defence Forces), Dr. Zahara Nampewo (Director, HURIPEC) and Kenneth Roth (Executive Director, Human Rights Watch). Prof. Joe Oloka – Onyango (Law Don, Makerere University, School of Law) will moderate the panel discussion while Dr. Busingye (Law Don, Makerere University, School of Law) will deliver the key note address.

The event will be adopting a hybrid mode of presentation, requiring both physical attendance at the university premises and will also be streamed via Zoom and YouTube.

REPORT: UGANDA’s BIG DEBATE The Role of the Military in Development

On the 17th day of November 2021, HURIPEC in conjunction with the Centre for Resolution of International Conflicts (CRIC) held a big debate on “The Role of the Military in Development” at the HURIPEC premises, Makerere University, School of Law.

The panelists for the big debate were;

  1. Ms Sarah Bireete, Executive Director, Center for Constitutional Governance (CCG)
  2. Major General Henry Masiko, Chief Political Commissar, Uganda People’s Defence Forces
  3. Brig General Felix Kulayigye, Director, Mindset Change and Ideology at Operation wealth
    creation (OWC)
  4. Prof Frederick Jjuuko, an Advocate and Professor of Law and Jurisprudence, Makerere
    University
  5. Dr Simba Sallie Kayunga, a political science lecturer at Makerere University

The debate was moderated by Mr. Charles Odongtho, a Ugandan Journalist, Talk show host at UBC, a lawyer by profession and former talk show host of the NBS Frontline.

We complied a report for the debate and is now available for public viewing.

You can access a copy of the report via the link below.

HURIPEC Roundtable Discussion with the UPDF on Security in Development

From Right to Left: Jackson Odong (HURIPEC Research Associate), Brig. Gen. Felix Kulayigye (Outgoing Member of Parliament representing UPDF and newly deployed to Operation Wealth Creation), Maj. Gen. Henry Masiko (Chief Political Commissar and the UPDF representative to Parliament), Dr. Zahara Nampewo (Director HURIPEC), Dr. Sylvie Namwase (Post Doctoral Researcher HURIPEC), Dr. Ronald Namuwairo (Deputy Principal School of Law) and Brig. Gen. Godard Busingye (Chief of Legal Services at the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs and UPDF).

The School of Law through its Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC) on the 15th June, 2021 (Tuesday) hosted a roundtable discussion with senior officials of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) under the theme: Security in Development: Exploring Uganda’s Sectors of Economic Growth”.

Looking at the intersectionality of security, peace and development, the meeting explored specifically the role of the UPDF in advancing Uganda’s National Development aspirations and more broadly its contribution in the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals particularly Goal No. 16. With growing debate on the involvement of military in a number of sectors in Uganda such as, agriculture (Operation Wealth Creation), the wildlife and forest conservation (UWA & NFA), the water resource sector (fisheries) and, the oil and mineral resources (MPPU), there is hardly any scholarly analysis on such phenomenon, a gap that HURIPEC seeks to bridge.

The UPDF established under the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995, Article 208 and Article 209 (b) is required to cooperate with civilian authority such as Police and as provided in the UPDF Act, engage in productive activities. This meeting explored further the nature, contributions, impact and effectiveness of the military interventions in the ‘security in development’ discourse. Interestingly, the increasing shift of the UPDF from its primary role in defending the territorial integrity of the State to its vivid involvement in development sectors needs a much deeper analysis and inquiry particularly on the aspects of functionality of such sector institutions. The temptation to engage in the national economy beyond the traditional defense economy partly lies in the question of national interests one of which is building strong institutions including the military.

The roundtable comprised of; HURIPEC team namely; Prof. Christopher Mbazira (Principal School of Law), Dr. Ronald Naluwiro (Deputy Principal School of Law), Dr. Zahara Nampewo (Director, HURIPEC), Dr. Namwase Sylvie (Post-Doc Researcher) and Jackson Odong (Associate Researcher). The UPDF officials comprised of; Major General Henry Masiko, (Chief Political Commissar and the UPDF representative to Parliament), Brig Gen Godard Busingye (Chief of Legal Services at the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs and UPDF) and Brig Gen. Felix Kulayigye, (Outgoing Member of Parliament representing UPDF and newly deployed to Operation Wealth Creation)