Deborah Malac, the US ambassador to Uganda, says government must do more to protect people’s rights that are increasingly under attack.
She was speaking at a panel discussion to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universals Declaration of Human Rights organised by USAID and Freedom House. Malac says it is absurd that countries like Uganda ignore certain rights of citizens.
“These rights are universal and not rights that people can pick and choose. These are really fundamental rights that should apply to each and every individual. Every individual should live free from the fear of violence and intimidation,” Malac notes.
She adds that although Uganda has registered significant success in achieving some of the individual and collective rights of her people, a lot needs to be done.
“We have to continue to work towards achieving those ideals to realise those basic rights for everyone.”
Meanwhile, Supreme court Justice Lillian Tibatemwa Ekirikubinza said there has been too much talk about gender-based violence but there has been little reflection and action towards addressing it.
“Gender-based violence is part and parcel of our societies and we need to think and reflect as individuals because these are individual actions. When we reflect as individuals we shall be able to change as a society,” Ekirikubinza said.
Solome Nakaweesa Kimbugwe, a human rights activist, noted that it is high time for the public to focus more on abuses against the weakest of the minorities.
“Even among the marginalised groups, there are most vulnerable ones... for example, among people with disabilities, we have children and women who need special care. Everybody must talk about human rights violations because it affects everybody,” Nakaweesa said.
Meanwhile, Care International Uganda (CIU) also called on government and all stakeholders to increase the fight against gender-based violence that mainly target women at the workplaces. Cinderella Anena, the CIU male engagement specialist, says there is need for policy strengthening to curb the vice.
“CIU is calling for an end to one of the most widespread forms of abuse against women, violence and harassment in the world of work,” Anena said.
She added that her organisation has launched a twitter campaign dubbed, ‘Heremetoo UG Twitter Town Hall’ with the aim bringing together local, national regional and global women’s movements, survivors, advocates and women human rights defenders to create an opportunity for dialogue between activists, policy makers and the public.
“This online event allows the participation of many people who may not be able to attend a traditional physical meeting,” Anena said.
Janapher Taaka, the CIU sexual exploitation and abuse focal point officer, said there is need to speak out against violence openly.
“While sex underpins the relationship between man and woman; many times it is unwanted, especially when power relations come into play. When sex is between a manager and a supervisee, it doesn’t matter whether there was consent, most times the power dynamics dictate that the weaker person has no total consent and this can perfectly be described as sexual violence,” Taaka said.
Delphine Mugisha, the CIU director of programs, added that often time people don’t want to talk about sexual violence because in many communities, sex is considered a private affair. She said there is need for parliament to come up with law as that compels all organizations that employ people to have policies that deal with gender-based violence.