CJ DOLLO TO M7: GIVE US NEW CHAIRMAN FOR UGANDA HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
By Mulengera Reporters
Key stakeholders and leaders have used the 25th JLOS Sector review meeting (jointly convened between the GoU and Development Partners)on Thursday to call on President Museveni to realize the need to urgently appoint the new Chairman for Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC)which by law must be fully constituted to work to be done.
The UHRC is one of the 18 state institutions which unite to comprise what is famously known as JLOS sector. But since the death of Chairman Med Kaggwa, Gen Museveni hasn’t yet named his successor as mandated by the Constitution. This, coupled by the fact that even the entity doesn’t have enough Commissioners in place, has greatly crippled at the Commission which is mandated to adjudicate all citizens’ complaints relating to human rights violations. Its little surprising that in the 12v months preceding the review meeting, held at Nsambya-based Mestil Hotel today Thursday, only 26% of the complaints reported at UHRC were disposed of or concluded.
First to raise this failure to properly constitute the all-important UHRC as a major during the Mestil review meeting was Dr. Katja Kerschbaumer who spoke on behalf of the JLOS Development Partners Working Group. It’s something that JLOS Deputy Technical Advisor Sam Wairagala also stressed while presenting the JLOS sector report highlighting what has been accomplished in the last 12 months. Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny Dollo thanked the President for filling many of the other positions which had remained vacant or a while in the JLOS institutions but implored the President to act equally prudently by appointing the Chairman for the Uganda Human Rights Commission which he said was an important institution.
“We appreciate the appointing authority for ensuring the vacant top positions in the JLOS institutions are filled but it’s equally important that substantive leadership is appointed to properly shepherd the UHRC as mandated under the Constitution,” Dollo asserted. Dr. Amooti Katebarirwe has been acting since the sudden death of Med Kaggwa sometime last who passed on as he drove to work in the morning.
Speaking at the same meeting, Attorney General William Byaruhanga (who is a key leader in the JLOS Sector) said he had taken note and would follow up with the President to ensure the leadership gap at UHRC is filled as a matter of priority and urgency. Admitting that there is no way the sector can register increased access to justice services by citizens when key institutions aren’t fully constituted in ways the Constitution prescribes, Byaruhanga said the delay to name Kaggwa’s replacement was regrettable.
Wairagala said it was unfortunate that the UHRC has always suffered human resource constraints “because at some point it had the required number of the Commissioners but no Chairman and when they got late Med Kaggwa, again the number of Commissioners dropped fatally constraining work operations there.” Currently, beyond just absence of the Chairman, Wairagala revealed in his broader report that Uganda Human Rights Commission is currently one of worst-staffed JLOS institutions having only 28% of its staffing structure filled. Another badly understaffed JLOS member institution is Internal Affairs which only 40% of its human resource or personnel requirements in place.
The development partner representatives at the review meeting asserted that President Museveni risks his commitment to human rights observance and enforcement in the country doubted over such prolonged failure to refusal to have a fully constituted UHRC. Indeed, absence of substantive chairman has bred intrigue and infighting at the UHRC and in the process hurting work. And by the way, it’s not only the office of Chairman that is vacant but also that of Commission Secretary or accounting officer. The person holding the position is in acting capacity since the acrimonious departure of Patrick Nyakana who faced impropriety investigations by Lt. Col Edith Nakalema’s State House Anti-Corruption Unit over mismanagement of DGF project funds. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).