Posts Tagged ‘Uganda’

Land rights defenders in Uganda face tough legal regime

January 14, 2020

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By witnessradio.org Team

in Uganda reported about the criminal trial of the 28 land rights defenders.

…Grace Nantubiro and Ronald Mugwabya are among the 28 land defenders and also members of witnessradio.org. They were arrested because of being on the frontline defending over 3000 people from were being violently evicted by local businessman George Kaweesi.  Kaweesi was shielded by police and the due process was never followed. Their pleas fell on deaf-ears until a violent crash ensued between the communities and the workers of a businessman that claimed a life of one Yunus Kasajja. Kasajja had been tasked by Kaweesi to supervise the eviction exercise.

The land under dispute is registered on Block 168, Plot 19, 22 and 23 with over 322.5 hectares covering five villages namely, Kambuye, Kikono, Kyabaana, Kanseera and Lwensanga in East Division, Mubende Municipality, Mubende district. The land forcefully taken was hosting some of the families that were evicted by Kaweeri Coffee Plantation limited in the early 2000s. The 600 families are part of the 2000 families, relocated to that land as compensation for what they had lost to Kaweeri Coffee Plantation limited. That land was formerly owned by Emmanuel Kayiwa Bikko who has since passed on.

Lately, the land-grabbing elements have resorted to using the Penal Code to charge land defenders because the law is lethal.  It imposes harsher prison sentences than any other and also obtaining bail once charged under it is either legally hard or too expensive for the rural communities in Uganda. These persecutions are manifesting majorly in districts that host minerals including sub-regions of Karamoja, Bunyoro and Buganda. Essentially, the prosecution alleges that on October, 12th, 2018, the accused:  Nantubiro Grace and Mugwabya Ronald and others at Kambuye-Kanseera, Mubende district, robbed Yunus Kasajja Tabu of his three mobile phones and thereafter proceeded to end his life.  If found guilty of the murder charge, they stand a chance of facing the ultimate punishment which is death.

https://witnessradio.org/the-criminal-trial-of-the-28-land-rights-defenders-is-set-to-resume-today/

Ugandan human rights Commissioner Med Kaggwa dies

November 24, 2019

He had been a member of the Uganda Law Society. Staff at the commission described him as gentle, committed to human rights, a very competent manager and ‘a great person to work with’. ‘The country has lost a person who will be very (hard) to replace.’  During his funeral, a message from President Yoweri Museveni, read by Vice-President Edward Ssekandi, described Kaggwa as a great servant of the people from whom other public servants could learn. During his tenure he transformed the Human Rights Commission, said Museveni. Despite the widespread praise for the work he did, however, his death has also exposed some concern that the commission he headed did not have enough power to act against human rights abuses.

Read full tribute

https://africanlii.org/article/20191122/med-kaggwa-ugandan-human-rights-defender-rip

Congo’s Hip-Hop artist Moses Kabaseke Defender of the Month for DefendDefenders

October 23, 2019

Human Rights Defender of the Month (September 2019): Moses Kabaseke 

Moses Kabaseke, a talented hip-hop artist and activist from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was forced to flee to Uganda in 2013 only 16 years old. Kabaseke, known by his stage name Belidor, has produced music since he was a child. “I use music as a weapon – music has power. I use music to promote human rights.

Moses Kabaseke refers to DRC as the rich country with the poor people. “Back home a life means nothing. In Congo, life is something that can be taken from human beings easily – there’s no justice,” he states. “It’s difficult for people that have not experienced atrocities to understand how that feels like. With my music, I try to capture the trauma and injustices experienced by so many.” When he was only seven years old, his father was killed. “Every night when my mother was crying, I felt so bad. Since that age, I decided to fight for what was right.” In 2012, history repeated itself when his stepfather was killed before his eyes. At that point his mother had to make the difficult decision to leave home. In a quest to find safety, she brought her four children to Uganda.

“We don’t want to be here, but we are forced to be here,” he stresses, pointing out that life in exile is difficult. Being away from home, without external support and regular income, they face many challenges. “We need to look for ways to pay our bills. However, my siblings and I all have the blood of our father, so the thing we know how to do is music; so, we perform.”

In Uganda, Kabaseke continued his human rights promotion by composing music. After five years of hard work, often performing in Kampala’s bars, restaurants, and churches to finance his music, he recently finished his first autobiographical album. The album, ‘Les Mille Cris’ (Thousands of Cries), which contains ten songs written and produced by himself, conveys messages about human rights violations and injustices in DRC, and life as a refugee, among others. “Les Mille Cris is about breaking down the truth, sensitising Africans and victims of violations, and giving a voice to the voiceless.”

Through his music, he encourages people to tell their story, and moreover, urges the world to listen. Speaking the truth can come at a high cost. “As the number of my followers increase, my personal insecurity increase. Personal safety is essential as an artist talking about human rights,” he says. When asked what inspires him to continue despite the many challenges he is faced with, he states that “I promote human rights because I have been a victim of the system […] we are the main actors in the process of change. We have to stand for our rights.” Moses Kabaseke has partaken in several trainings organised by DefendDefenders, and performed at DefendDefenders’ events.

Check out Moses Kabaseke’s music:

Human Rights Defender of the Month (September 2019): Moses Kabaseke

Internet shutdowns to silence opposition – what to do?

January 28, 2019

“African governments use Internet shutdowns to silence opposition more and more —what can people do?” askson EuroNews of

What would you do if your government decided to intentionally shut down your access to the Internet? Millions of people around the world have had to answer this question time and time again over the past few years, as government-mandated Internet blackouts are on the rise. Less than a month into 2019, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon and Zimbabwe have experienced government crackdowns on Internet connections.

From 2016 to 2018, 371 separate cases of Internet shutdowns were documented around the world. More than half of them occurred last year alone, according to international non-profit organisation Access Now.

Authorities have used a number of reasons to justify the blackouts, including public safety, national security and stopping the dissemination of rumors and illegal content. However, advocacy groups investigating governmental tendencies to exert control over the flow of information don’t buy it. They claim it has more to do with silencing opposition movements and protests and trying to limit political instability.

They harm everyone: businesses, emergency services, journalism, human rights defenders, and demonstrators. They don’t help victims or restore order,” Access Now’s website reads.

In the past few weeks, several African governments have turned to partial or complete shutdowns in attempts to control the public discussion.

Sudan doubled down on social media amid widespread anti-government protests, with Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition calling on network operators to fight back against state pressure — but it wasn’t the only African country to do so.

Zimbabwean authorities were quick to gag social media — including Facebook and Whatsapp — as soon as civil unrest over rising fuel prices spread in Harare and other major cities, and the DRC also ordered a full blackout following recent elections…..

From 2016 to 2018 alone, Africa witnessed 46 Internet shutdowns,…….Chad, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Somaliland, Algeria, Togo, Cameroon, Gambia, Uganda, Gabon, Algeria, Morocco, Lybia, Tunisia, and Algeria have all cracked down on their citizens’ access to the Internet in the past.

How did citizens react to Internet or social media shutdowns?

People always find a way”, Zimbabwean analyst Alexander Rusero told Euronews. “But it {VPN} doesn’t work for everyone”, Rusero pointed out. “Usually the ones in Harare, at the centre of the country, manage to”.

The analyst was quick to underline the issues behind similar crackdowns…”During the Internet blackout there were a lot of lies and rumors — they spread faster than you would believe. Media relies on social media, and so do critical opinion leaders. Outside those platforms, fake news manifest”.

Jean-Hubert Bondo, a journalist from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, doesn’t believe the problems end here. “Many Congolese families live off their small cybercafés. Also, we are in a country where there are not enough physical libraries. Students and researchers use the Internet to research their work at the university. Young people animate pages on Facebook and WhatsApp”, he told Euronews. “To deprive us of the Internet is to take us back to antiquity”. As for the VPNs Rusero mentioned — the most common ways to avoid Internet censorship worldwide — Bondo said that, during the latest shutdown, they failed to work. “In response to what is being perceived as a violation of human rights, Bondo reported that several Congolese civil society organisations have now lodged a complaint against the main telecommunication companies.

In Uganda, a crackdown on Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, and mobile money apps in February 2016 as citizens were heading to the polls sparked a legal case that will be discussed in court in February 2019. “Shutdowns may not silence people, but they do hinder communication”, said Ugandan blogger Ruth Aine Tindyebwa….

https://www.euronews.com/2019/01/26/african-governments-use-internet-shutdowns-to-silence-opposition-more-and-more-what-can-pe

https://www.dailynews.co.zw/articles/2019/01/27/ed-justifies-internet-shutdown

Call for nominations for women human rights defenders from East Africa to learn about digital safety

January 26, 2019

The community of Safe Sisters is announcing the 3rd round of women’s digital safety fellowship program to start in March 2019. They are looking for creative, self-motivated and dependable women who want to take their digital safety skills and online activism to the next level and they invite women human rights defenders from Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda to apply. The workshop is scheduled in March 2019 in Kampala, Uganda.

Two years ago, they started the work of building a community of tech-savy East African women ready to stand up and defend digital rights and digital safety while fighting online harassment in their communities. Since then 21 amazing women from Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Tanzania have been trained to play an important role in their communities as digital security mentors! [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/05/09/defenddefenders-launched-new-security-manual-for-human-rights-defenders-in-africa/]

Participation involves 

Minimum 4 hours per week for 3 weeks before the first workshop to complete self-study assignments and exercises. Please note these exercises are mandatory for participation in the workshop; you must be available for weekly email check-ins with mentors;

You must be able to attend a one-week workshop to be scheduled in March 2019 in Kampala, Uganda. You will get an opportunity to seek small grants to carry out community digital safety activities of your own; you will work with mentors and peers as they improve their skills and work to defend your community; and Opportunity to participate in the 2nd gathering of Safe Sisters to further grow skills and reflect on practice and experience gained during project implementation

Application requirements 

Applicants must have a demonstrated interest in digital safety and security; should have experience working in the human rights and/or media field with strong links to communities who are digitally at-risk; must hold a sufficient level of English, as English will be the working language; and must complete and submit the application form.

Selection Criteria 

Priority will be given to applicants who: demonstrate experience with strong technical competencies (though this need not be formal education); have experience with tech and human rights initiatives; demonstrate an understanding of their own and their community’s digital safety challenges and needs; Propose creative project ideas; and construct clear project objectives/goals.

Applications are now open until 15th February 2019. You can apply by filling out the online application form.

For more details, visit Defend Defenders.

Profile of William Leslie Amanzuru, Africa’s defender of the month

November 7, 2018

On 6 November 2018, the African network NGO DefendDefenders published this profile of their ‘Defender of the month’: William Leslie Amanzuru from Uganda:

Read the rest of this entry »

Profile of Human Rights Defender Margaret Arach Orech from Uganda

October 14, 2018

Human Rights Defender Margaret Arach Orech from Uganda is a victim of landmines and turned activist to help others. Another in the series recently published by European External Action Service (EEAS) in the context of the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/10/04/chia-wei-chi-first-in-series-of-videos-by-european-external-action-service/]. See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/05/23/two-ugandans-get-eu-human-rights-award-in-uganda/

https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/51519/human-rights-defenders-margaret-arach-orech-uganda_en

Two Ugandans get EU human rights award in Uganda

May 23, 2018

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Peter Sewakiryanga (left) and Margret Arach Orech after receiving their awards at a function in Bugolobi. Photo by Ashraf Kasirye

The 2018 Human Rights Defenders Award went to Margaret Arach Orech, the founder of Uganda Landmine Survivors’ Association and Peter Sewakiryanga, the founder of Kyampisi Childcare Ministries, an organisation that supports child victims of sacrifice.

Arach, who lost her leg to a landmine during an attack by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in 1998, uses her organisation to solicit for support for fellow survivors and persons with disabilities.

Sewakiryanga, a pastor now takes care of 80 child survivors of trafficking and human sacrifice has built an extensive network linking communities and security to track suspected cases. In 2017, Sewakiryanga travelled to Oman to rescue six victims of child trafficking. He is credited for championing research and spearheading an awareness campaign in communities to stop the crime.

https://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1478305/ugandans-eu-human-rights-awards

Enough break-ins is enough say Ugandan human rights defenders

February 12, 2018

I wrote earlier about the suspiciously high rate of break-ins in the human rights community in Kampala [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/06/14/uganda-ngo-offices-regularly-ransacked-coincidence/]. The Ugandan Observer of 12 February writes: “Angry human rights workers camp at Old Kampala police

Police has called for calm and patience from furious staff of human rights awareness and promotion forum-Uganda (HRAPF), who’d staged a protest at Old Kampala police station following a second break-in into their offices last week. Nearly two years after the first break-in on May 22, 2016 – leading to the brutal murder of the security guard on duty Emmanuel Arituha; last week on February 9, HRAPF offices in Kampala were again broken into by unknown assailants.

Some of HRAPF staff and partners in a meeting with police station DPC

Armed with placards, HRAPF staff camped at Old Kampala police station to demand for the immediate conclusion of the investigations into the now rampant breaking into NGO offices. Following a meeting with senior police officials at the station, police acknowledged the need for quicker investigations and promised to provide armed guards to the NGO until the investigations are concluded. For the first break-in investigations, police officials reportedly said the file had been called to the CIID headquarters but will be recalled to the station to conclude investigations. 

A matrix organised by the by National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Uganda (NCHRDU), shows that at least 24 premises of Non-governmental organisations and civil societies have been broken into since 2012.

…..

Organisations such as the Uganda Land Alliance, the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, the Legal Aid Service Providers Network, Akina Mama Wa Afrika and the Anti-Corruption Coalition have suffered break-ins in similar fashion and, despite timely reports to the police on all occasions, investigations have been unsatisfactory and the follow up insufficient.

This is the latest in a series of attacks against civil society organisations which, regardless of the motivations of the assailants, points to the increasing lack of protection provided to human rights defenders in Uganda, said Jjuuko.

http://observer.ug/news/headlines/56884-angry-human-rights-workers-camp-at-old-kampala-police.html

https://76crimes.com/2018/02/09/unchecked-criminals-hit-ugandan-civic-groups/

9 December, Human Rights Defenders Day, ‘celebrated’ in Uganda

December 13, 2017

In an article in the Ugandan paper The Independent entitled “Activists mark Human Rights Defenders day” (13 December 2017), Robert Kirenga, the Executive Director of the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders in Uganda spoke to Flavia Nassaka about his perspective on international human rights defenders day and the general human rights situation in the country. He made some interesting points such as (excerpts):  Read the rest of this entry »