Uganda: UN Boss Tasks Govt On Covid Rights Abuses

The outgoing United Nations Resident Coordinator, Ms Rosa Malango, has advised all law enforcement agencies to avoid repeating human rights violations committed during the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown.

While launching the human rights based approach booklet in Kampala last Friday, Ms Malango observed that whereas the 1995 Constitution provides for protection and promotion of fundamental rights and freedoms of Ugandans, the enforcement of the lockdown and preventive measures for the spread of Covid-19 last year led to an increase in human rights violations.

"The supreme law provides that fundamental rights and freedoms of all individuals are inherent, and that the rights and freedoms of the individuals and groups enshrined in the Constitution shall be respected, upheld and promoted by all organs and agencies of government and by all persons," she said.

Ms Malango, who heads to New York as director of economic affairs for the regional economic commissions, said whereas the pandemic had disproportionate impact on frontline workers, women, girls, older persons and persons with disabilities in Uganda, there was a significant spike in violence against women, children, teenage pregnancies, and child marriage.

She revealed that a joint comprehensive socio-economic impact study showed that the restrictive measures rendered 46 per cent of people in the informal sector jobless, while 43 per cent of people in hospitality and 41 per cent in trading and services, either slipped into poverty or had their businesses closed. Ms Malango said these statistics are not good for the realisation of the aspirations of Vision 2040 and the sustainable development goals.

Mr Robert Kotchani, the country representative in the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the booklet launched by Ms Malango contains guidelines, which any government agency or institution dealing in humanitarian work, must follow to fulfil their mandate.

"If you are undertaking an activity on behalf of some community, they must be consulted and made sure to participate in the activity. You must disclose the resources which were mobilised and how much was utilised and the balance of resources left," he said.

Dr Maxime Houinato, the country representative for UN Women, noted that during the course of implementing their work, they have found out that majority of Ugandans lack understanding of their rights. He added that Ugandans do not understand mechanisms through which they can seek redress in case of violations.

Dr Houinato said their operations in the country try to address how the duty bearers such as cultural, religious and political leaders fulfil their duty to ensure that citizens enjoy and are aware of their fundamental rights.

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