The government of Uganda is asked to urgently sign the declaration on the protocol for Human and Peoples’ Rights as a way of avoiding gross human rights violations that usually characterize election campaigns.
The call is made by former Principal Judge Justice James Ogoola, a day after the presidential campaigns officially kicked off.
He tells KFM that as the country prepares for the 2016 general elections, all political players should be mindful of the need to protect human rights throughout election time.
Uganda has ratified the protocol that establishes the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights but it is yet to sign the declaration that allows citizens to file cases at the court.
The continental court was established by the African Union(AU) member states to enhance the protection of human rights in Africa.
Although the Court officially started its operations in November 2006, so far only 28 out of the 54 AU member states have ratified the protocol since its adoption in 1998 and of these only 7 have made the declaration.
“In addition to the ratification of the protocol, states have to make a declaration required under Article 34(6) of the protocol to allow individuals and NGOs to bring cases directly before the Court without which, the court would have no jurisdiction over cases brought by NGOs and individuals”, said Justice Ogoola.
Citing the recent violent protests that left hundreds killed in neighboring Burundi, Justice Ogoola noted that whenever there are hot political issues like elections there is always a likelihood of gross breach of human rights which must be avoided this time at all cost.
In Uganda, there have been numerous clashes between the opposition supporters and the police as the latter attempted to block their public rallies in various parts of the country.
“Protocols like these, if not fully ratified and adhered to makes the situation even worse as there will not only be violations of human rights, but there will be no recourse for the victims. Some of the issues can be handled by local courts but a country that is serious should be able to ratify these instruments to promote universally recognized human rights”, he adds.
He hailed the people of Tanzania for holding a peaceful presidential election and urged Ugandans to borrow a leaf and ensure protection of Human Rights.
Justice Ogoola recognised the Court’s inability to aggressively reach out to the citizens of all the AU member states, asking the government of Uganda to particularly support it popularizing its operations and activities and increase access to information about the same.
Story By Catherine Ageno