The Chairperson of the Uganda Human Right Commission Mariam Wangadya has encouraged journalists who feel their rights were violated in their line of duty while covering NUP President Robert Kyagulanyi arrival from abroad toreach out to the commission for investigation.
During a media engagement with journalists in Jinja under their umbrella Busoga Media Association, Wangadya revealed that her commission cannot initiate investigations unless they get a formal complaint from the affected persons.
“I watched on TV when journalists were complaining of being assaulted, gadgets confiscated. However I also watched Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango saying all journalists were freed and their gadgets handed back. Therefore in case there is any journalist who feel their human rights were violated by security operatives, he or she should come and make a formal complaint with the Uganda Human Rights Commission.That is when we shall start investigating the conduct of security personnel on that day, ” Wangadya said.
She also called upon security agencies to restrain on violating the rights of citizens while enforcing the law.
“Article 212 of the Constitution provides in the enforcement of their duties members of the armed forces of Uganda shall respect human rights and freedoms.”
She however expressed concern over the meagre resources which are constraining the commission from holding regular tribunals in different regions.
“Our tribunal sittings are irregular and we are suffering with case backlog in our various regional offices across the country because of lack of resources. Every sitting we need to pay experts witnesses, and also pay other operational costs like fuel but we cannot do that regularly because of inadequate resources. Therefore government should think about revising our budget such that the commission operates fully.”
She added that the commission accumulated many cases after the death of the former chairperson Meddie Kaggwa who took 2 years to be replaced.
Wangadya said there is backlog to handle since the constitution dictates that for the commission to be eligible to conduct business, there must a chairperson and at least 3 members of the commission.
The Uganda Human Rights Commission also addressed UPDF personnel who are undergoing a two weeks training at Jinja based Gaddafi garrison where she implored them on respecting human rights .
She specifically pointed out the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act that she said imposes personal liability to individual officers involved in torturing citizens.
Wangadya also explained officers about the Human Rights Enforcement Act which give courts powers to acquit suspects of any offence in case they can bring evidence to prove they were tortured during the course of investigations.
She also called upon UPDF personnel to comply with the constitution in the performance of their duties.