Government to table Witness Protection Bill

Mar 16, 2016

The director of Public Prosecution, Mike Chibita said that the judiciary faces challenges of witness compromise and backlog of cases

Government will soon table the Witness Protection Bill in Parliament, the director of Public Prosecution (DPP), has said.

Mike Chibita said once the bill is passed by Parliament it will be very vital under the criminal justice.

 Chibita was speaking during opening of three days human rights defenders annual forum at Silver Springs Hotel, Bugolobi on Wednesday.

The annual forum organized by Human Rights Centre Uganda under the theme: working towards a better environment and overcome barriers and develop initiatives to enhance the work of human rights defenders.

Chibita said that the judiciary faces challenges of witness compromise and backlog of cases. He explained that most of these challenges were due to lack of laws that protect people or state witnesses in the courts of law.

"There are many instances where the state loses cases due to hostile witnesses or compromises. Some of them fear to come and give evidence on behalf of the state fearing that the public will harass them," he said.

  ast and orn of frica uman ights efender assan hire sewakiryanga ekaggya hibita and rish mbassador onal ronin pose for a group photo alongside other participants hoto by icholas ajoba (L-R) East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defender, Hassan Shire, Ssewakiryanga, Sekaggya, Chibita and Irish Ambassador, Donal Cronin pose for a group photo alongside other participants. Photo by Nicholas Kajoba


Chibita assured the public that once the bill is passed in the parliament the DPP and Judiciary will be able to expedite their cases and reduce on the backlog.

He cited some cases on average take five years to dispose of, which he said these will soon be reduced to two years.

The Irish ambassador, Donal Cronin said that human rights defenders face intimidation, isolation and arbitrary arrest and detentions.

"It's important that government safeguards human rights defenders in civil society and in the media," he said.

Cronin said that there is need for government to look closely at the cases of intimidation, torture and harassment by security agencies as reports by Uganda Human Rights Commission indicated.

He advised individuals to strive together and become human rights defenders in their own spheres of influence.

"Let us all stand up for the right to point out where human rights are being trampled upon. Whether we are civil society or government its joint responsibility," Cronin said.

He said that the presence of judiciary officials and security agencies in the forum indicates a sign of commitment to justice and protection of rights of human rights defenders in the country.

NGO forum executive director, Richard Ssewakiryanga said that dialogue with different government agencies like in security and judiciary are vital in reducing cases of human rights abuses.

"Many human rights abuses are done especially upcountry where some of the defenders may not reach. But dialogue with some of the government agencies will enable them improve and abet some of the rights abuses," he said.

The executive director of Human Rights Centre Uganda, Margaret Sekaggya said that the objective of the forum is to network and share experiences among human rights defenders.

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