he East Africa Law Society (EALS) is saddened by the appalling human rights situation in Uganda ahead of the country’s general elections slated for the 14th of January.
In a statement issued at the new year’s eve, the President of the regional bar association Mr. Bernard Oundo expressed displeasure at the several wanton killings of innocent Ugandans, partisan policing, unlawful detentions of human rights activists and political opposition that have dogged the electioneering season.
The astute Ugandan Lawyer along with the presidents of national bar associations in Burundi, Zanzibar, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda said these human rights violations border on constituting crimes against humanity.
“Over the past few days, we have observed and noted with much trepidation increasing reports on the deteriorating state of human rights, civic space, and Rule of law within the Republic of Uganda ” the Statement reads.
” The Republic of Uganda has an inherent obligation under the constitution as well as under the treaty establishing the East African Community to adhere to good governance standards, rule of law, human rights to all and democratic governance. These obligations are also available under the African Charter on human and peoples’ rights.
” Even more compelling, the reported violations constitute acts of crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Statute of International Criminal Court.”
During the campaign season, Ugandans have witnessed gruesome scenes of brutality at the hands of security agencies which has on one occasion led to the death of atleast 50 persons and in another incident the death of a former captain of the national boxing team.
Non Governmental Organisations ( NGOs) engaged in human rights activism have been harrassed and have had their bank accounts frozen.
Several Ugandans have been unlawfully arrested and detained including leading human rights attorney Nicholas Opiyo who was arrested and detained on allegations of money laundering which several observers believe are trumped up and politically motivated.
The regional lawyers’ lobby said it has constituted an adhoc rule of law committee tasked with the gathering of crucial pieces of evidence which will be used in instituting water tight cases against the government officials responsible.
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