Human Rights Bill Not Necessary - Rukutana

4724 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Mwesigwa Rukutana, the deputy attorney general today said that the Human Rights Enforcement Bill, 2015 currently before parliament is not necessary. Rukutana noted the presence of different laws on the protection, promotion and enforcement of rights and freedoms. He was appearing before parliaments Legal committee currently scrutinising the Human Rights Enforcement Bill, 2015.

Mwesigwa Rukutana, the deputy attorney general today said that the Human Rights (Enforcement) Bill, 2015 currently before parliament is not necessary.
                         
Rukutana noted the presence of different laws on the protection, promotion and enforcement of rights and freedoms. The Rushenyi County legislator was appearing before parliament's Legal committee currently scrutinising the Human Rights (Enforcement) Bill, 2015.
                                                   
Some of the already existing laws cited by Rukutana include the National Council for Disability Act of 2013- on the rights of the disabled and the Access to Information Act of 2005 - on the right to access to information among others.
 
The others are the National Environmental Act, Cap 153 - on the right to a clean and healthy environment and the Public Order Management Act of 2013 - on the regulation of the right to freedom of association under Article 29 of the Constitution.
 
The Human Rights (Enforcement) bill which was tabled by Mitooma Woman MP, Jovah Kamateeka, seeks to enforce Article 50 (4) of the constitution, which compels parliament to enact laws for the enforcement of rights and freedoms provided for in Chapter Four of the Constitution.
 
These rights include the right to life, respect for human dignity and protection from inhuman treatment, right to own property, right to privacy, and right to education among others.
 
Parliament hasn't enacted any laws under Article 50 (4), which provide for the enforcement of human rights by all persons, institutions and organs of government since the 1995 constitution was promulgated.
 
The bill also seeks to remedy the gap arising from the ruling of the Constitutional Court in the case of Bukenya Church Ambrose Vs Attorney General Constitutional Petition No. 26 of 2010.
 
The court ruled against the Judicature fundamental rights and freedoms (enforcement procedure) rules of 2008 saying that it was not the role of anybody other than parliament to make laws. 
 
However, Rukutana told the Legal committee chaired by MP Robinah Rwakoojo that Article 50 (4) is not limited to a single piece of legislation that parliament shall make, but to any laws for the enforcement of the rights and freedoms under Chapter Four.
 
Rukutana also said that the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) is already facilitating the hearing of human rights cases and, where a person is dissatisfied with the decision of the Commission, the person may appeal to the High Court.
 
The UHRC Annual Report of 2014 shows that the commission received 3,904 complaints. The report says that a total of 1,884 complaints were investigated to completion while 1,072 were partially investigated.
 
Rukutana said that where investigations were concluded, the matters were forwarded to the Uganda Human Rights Tribunal for hearing while others were either referred to other institutions for appropriate handling or closed for insufficient evidence.
 
The nature of violations disposed of in 2014 include torture, liberty, life, property, child maintenance, health, discrimination among others.
 
However, submissions by Rukutana were rejected by MPs sitting on the legal committee who argued that parliament is empowered by the constitution to come up with the law.
 
Committee chairperson Robinah Rwakoojo appealed to the deputy attorney general to propose amendments to the bill before her committee rather than writing it off.
 
Kaberamaido MP Veronica Eragu Bichetero said that the law is necessary to give those Ugandans who do not want to complain to UHRC an option of going straight to court.
 
Bichetero who is a former commissioner of UHRC said that the commission also finds it difficult to enforce some of the rights saying that it has the powers of the high court and when one wants to appeal, they appeal to the same tribunal.
 
//Cue in: "Human rights...
Cue out:...infancy."//
 
Rukutana agreed to sit down with MP Kamateeka who tabled the bill to come up with a solution to the proposed bill and recommendations to the committee. He was given one week to report back to the committee.

 

About the author

Olive Nakatudde
Olive Nakatudde is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Nakatudde has been a URN staff member since 2013.

Nakatudde started out in journalism in 2009 with Dembe FM radio in Kampala. In 2012, Nakatudde joined Voice of Africa as a political reporter. She has been a photographer since her journalism school days at Makerere University.

Nakatudde is interested in good governance and public policy, which she reports on intensively from the Uganda Parliament. She is a keen follower of cultural affairs in Buganda Kingdom and covers the kingdom's Lukiiko (parliament). Nakatudde also reports on education and health.