Uganda: UN Member States Corner Uganda Over Human Rights
|Publication Date||13 October 2011|
|Cite as||Article 19, Uganda: UN Member States Corner Uganda Over Human Rights, 13 October 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e9811a52.html [accessed 18 May 2013]|
The Uganda State delegation attending the country's first ever human rights review was put under the spotlight by the UN Human Rights Council members over the endemic erosion of the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.
At the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which concluded on 11 October 2011, over 20 state delegations asked the Government to repeal and review laws that restrict freedom of expression and press freedom, including criminal defamation and the registration of non-governmental organisations. The issue of non-recognition of same sex marriages was also raised by the members as a cause for concern.
"Uganda's response to the freedom of expression issues fell short of ARTICLE 19's expectations. We however think that the four and half years that Uganda now has to implement the recommendations offers a great opportunity for the Government to get its act together and meet its obligations to protect, respect and fulfill freedom of expression," said Henry Maina, Director of ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa.
"The state was very non-committal on issues relating to freedom of expression, media freedom and protection of journalists and human rights defenders. We did not leave with a clear sense of what measures the government wanted to put in place to ensure that the country's deteriorating freedom of expression situation is redressed," continued Maina.
During the UPR, more than 56 countries took to the floor to engage the Uganda State delegation. The US, UK, Canada, Netherlands, Australia, Germany and Sweden all recommended that Uganda review its 1995 Press and Journalists Act, undertake investigations into journalist harassment cases and bring the perpetrators of these attacks to justice, and review the law regulating the operations of non-governmental organisations, which is currently domiciled in the Office of the President. In addition, the member states called for the enactment of a law that recognizes same sex marriages between consenting adults and repeal of the Penal Code provisions criminalising homosexuality.
ARTICLE 19 calls for Uganda to take steps to stop all pending prosecutions of journalists on sedition charges and to seriously address cases of incessant harassment and intimidation of journalists. ARTICLE 19 also calls on the government to embark on legislative reforms based on broad consultation with the media and civil society to ensure that legislation meets the country's international human rights obligations. Uganda's progress will be reviewed by member states in 2016.