By Moses Mulondo
The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UNHCR) has been voted the best national human rights institution on the entire African continent.
A similar award was given to the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Human Rights for being the best Nongovernmental organization on the continent that offered an outstanding contribution toward rights work.
The ceremony for awarding Uganda was conducted during the 25th anniversary of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights held in Cote D’Ivoire’s Yamoussoukro city two weeks ago.
The function was presided over by his Excellency Alassane Outtara, the president of the republic of Cote D’Ivoire.
At a dinner to celebrate the award at Imperial Royale Hotel on Thursday, the UNHCR boss Meddie Kaggwa, said this is the first time such an award had been given by the African Human Rights Commission for commendable performance.
UHRC was constitutionally established in 1996 following recommendations of the Uganda Constitution Commission, which took account of the report of a commission of inquiry into violations of human rights from 1962 to 1986.
“We are proud of this remarkable achievement and we are positive that the award will strengthen the existing working relationship between us and other stakeholders including the Government,” said Kaggwa.
“This is an achievement for Uganda.”
He appealed to the Government to increase funding from the current 70% to 100%, to enable them execute their constitutional duties.
“For two months now tribunals are not on because funding for these tribunals is at the mercy of other partners. We ask the Government to close that funding gap,” Kaggwa elaborated.
On what the commission intendeds to do with the latest report (2011) which indicates that violation of human rights in Uganda has increased by 20%, Kaggwa said: “We have produced training manuals for the Army, Police and Prisons to ensure that they don’t violate people’s rights.”
The Vice President, Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, who was the chief guest, congratulated the commission and pledged to intervene in ensuring funding for the institution.
Ssekandi, however, urged stakeholders to also be committed to the cause of ensuring that citizens abide by the established laws.