By Cecilia Okoth
HUMAN rights activists have asked parliament to consult human rights agencies and the general public before passing legislations that impinge on fundamental human rights and freedoms.
According to the activists, such bills include the National Biotechnology and Biosafety bill, Public Order Management Act 2013 and archaic draconian legislations.
“The Uganda Human Rights Commission, Equal Opportunities and human rights organizations and the general public should be consulted before the bills are passed into law,” said Mohammed Ndifuna, the Human Rights Network-Uganda Executive Director
Ndifuna was raising human rights concerns for the New Year, during a press conference at their offices in Kampala last week (Thursday).
He added, “We are concerned about the continued violations of human rights in Uganda at the outset of 2014.”
Ndifuna said 2013 witnessed progressive and prohibitive incidents in the rights discourse violations which he noted needed urgent interventions to ensure they do not continue in 2014.
In the National Biotechnology and Biosafety bill, Ndifuna explained that though envisaged as a solution to food insecurity in Uganda, does not cater for the adequate participation of Ugandans in decision making concerning the development, transportation or importation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
“It has no provisions relating to labelling of GMO products so that Ugandans are able to know and choose whether they want to consume GMOs or organic products,” Ndifuna said.
He also noted that given that the goal of GMO technology is to create novel organisms, many of the risks associated will be difficult to anticipate with any degree of precision. “It is therefore important to acknowledge uncertainty and deal with it using precautionary principles under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the convention of biosafety to which Uganda is party to,” He said.
On the Public Order Management Act 2013 Ndifuna said in its current form cannot be an enabling piece of legislation as Uganda strives to achieve its democratization aspirations of liberty, equality rule of law and constitutionalism.
“The act is being enforced by police to prohibit public assemblies hence violating the constitutional right peaceful public assemblies as envisaged by article 29 of the constitution of Uganda,” He said.
Ndifuna also called for the reviewing and amending the laws that are inconsistent with the constitution like the Penal Code Act and the Criminal Procedure Code Act.