Uganda has been blocked from physically attending human rights meetings in Geneva. This is according to Mariam Wangadya, the Chairperson of Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC).

Wangadya made the revelation on Monday to Parliament. She said the United Nations accuses Uganda government of terminating operations of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in February last year.

The office is a Department of the United Nations Secretariat mandated to promote and protect the enjoyment and full realization of all rights established in the Charter of the United Nations and in international human rights laws and treaties.

The office is also mandated to prevent human rights violations, secure respect for all human rights, promote international cooperation to protect human rights, and streamline the United Nations system in the field of human rights.

The government said in February during its closure that it was no longer needed because there is the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC).

“There is what we call ‘superfluous’ – something that is not needed because there is something else,” Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni said a press conference in South Africa days after closing the office.

“Because we have got a Uganda Human Rights Commission which is in the Constitution, having this freelance something something, even confuses our people. If they have complaints, they don’t know where to go – whether to go to the exotic or UHRC”

“So, to simply for them, we said there is only one human rights commission in Uganda – the one in the constitution. Let others go and do something else. There is a lot of need for those groups in the world. They can go to Iraq, Afghanistan. They are not short of people and places where there are problems, Uganda is not one of them,” President Museveni reiterated.

Wangadya however denied accusations of being silent as Government chased away UN High Commission for Human Rights & DGF saying there were several petitions written by the Commission to make a case why the UN body should stay, but instead, she was warned against obstructing Government’s decision.

“I wish you knew what we went through, the battels we fought so that this office would stay and the meetings which were held and the last one was in Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended by Cabinet Ministers, I was invited. I had written several petitions, trying to make a case for the office to stay. Actually, I was lectured, that is what it (meeting) turned out to be,” Wangadya said.

“I was lectured on why this office must go, and I must not be an obstacle. And these were decisions taken by the government, other than pleading that let this office stay, there was nothing more we could do,” added Wangadya.

She further revealed that the UN has not only stopped blocking Uganda’s physical meetings in Geneva but also intends to downgrade Uganda’s human rights status come June 2024.

The commission has for long been accused by members of the opposition of being under the shadow of government and failing to root for upholding of human rights in the country. Most outstanding were the disappearance, killing, and abduction of opposition supporters before and after the 2021 general elections.

The international community is also concerned about Uganda’s decision to enact the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which they render a violation of human rights.

What happens if the commission slips to “B” grade?

Only the human rights commissions with the “A” status can express their views in deliberations at the United Nations Human Rights Council and take part in voting on any of its decisions.

It will also give a message that Uganda’s statutory human rights body is under the government’s shadow, and the human rights situation in the country is unsatisfactory.

Kungu Al-Mahadi Adam is an experienced Ugandan multimedia Journalist with a background of fact checking and thorough research. He is very passionate about current African affairs particularly Horn of Africa. He...

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