By David Lumu
Seeking to re-align the prudence of the country’s human rights record, Med Kaggwa, the chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission has rolled out stringent rules for staff working at the national human rights institution.
From today, the staff is required to register or refer allegations of complaints on human rights violations within 45 minutes, attend to people complaining about human rights abuse in 15 minutes, commence with investigations within 14 days and respond to requests for information by clients within 28 days.
The above new guidelines are contained in the Uganda Human Rights Commission Client Charter that was launched in Kampala.
“We commit ourselves to among others: register or refer allegations of complaints on human rights violations within 45 minutes, commence investigations within 14 days from receipt of a complaint, provide updates to clients on the status of their complaint files on a quarterly basis,” Med Kaggwa said at the launch of the charter.
According to the charter, staffs at the human rights institution are tasked to conclude a complaint that goes through a tribunal hearing process within 2 years, execute one systematic investigation annually, conduct one public inquiry in three years on selected human rights violation issue and strictly follow up on payment of tribunal awards resulting from human rights violations.
“We shall install and operationalize toll free lines in all regional offices and headquarters to receive complaints and feedback from clients by 2015, conduct two mobile complaints handling clinics per quarter per region in hard to reach areas and provide an interpreter, including sign language, when necessary for easy communication,” the charter states.
Describing it as a social contract between the commission and Ugandans, Kaggwa said that the charter bids the staffs to protect and promote human rights, improve service delivery, create awareness and also provide an accountability framework.
Under the charter, the workers at the human rights institution are also required to conduct one research on a specific human rights issue annually, deliver tailor-made civic education programs for clients, conduct community meetings, conduct knowledge-gap analysis of clients, inspect detention facilities, monitor government compliance with human rights and review all Bills tabled before Parliament for human rights compliance.
Kaggwa also said that under the new guidelines, the institution and its workers are expected to advocate for the domestication of pending international and regional office every year and also partner with Uganda Law Reform Commission to identify, review and recommend for repeal laws that do not meet human rights standards.