By Ritah Kemigisa and Arthur Arnold Wadero
The US Ambassador to Uganda, Natalie Brown has expressed concern with the decision by the government to end the mandate of the United Nations Human Higher Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) office in Kampala beyond its current term.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has in a February 3 letter to the OHCHR argued that “the prevailing peace throughout the country, coupled with strong national human rights institutions and a vibrant civil society—with capacity to monitor the promotion and protection of human rights,” in-house has rendered the office’s presence redundant.
The OHCHR is a department of the UN secretariat mandated by the General Assembly to among others prevent human rights violations, secure respect for all human rights, promote international cooperation, protect human rights, and streamline the UN system in the field of human rights
Addressing journalists at the release of the 60th-anniversary edition of the US mission’s report to the Ugandan People, Ambassador Brown warned that no society can advance if they do not observe human rights and its citizens.
” It is worrisome whenever human rights are not respected whether it is in Uganda or in neighboring countries, African continent or even in the US, we are now seeing it with the Russia war in Ukraine, the mass violation of human citizen rights,” she said.
She however added that the protection of human rights is not a preserve of one particular organization but rather a joint responsibility for all people to speak out and demand that their rights are protected and respected.
“All of us have a role to play in calling for accountability and speaking out when there are violations of human rights. It is not about one particular organization or individual to protect human rights but it’s about the collective responsibility that all of us share as human beings, as people on this planet as neighbors to respect the rights, demand that rights be respected and do to uphold rights for all of us,” said Ambassador Brown.
Ambassador Brown has meanwhile challenged the government to fulfill its commitment to uphold rights as prescribed in the constitution, the UN charter, and other treaties.
She has also demanded that the government adequately fund its rights bodies such as the Uganda Human Rights Commission to enable it to effectively carry out its mandate.
The Uganda Human Rights Commission has over time decried funding as a major obstacle in fulfilling its mandate to monitor and advance human rights in the country.