CURRENT STATUS OF THE OUTBREAK IN UGANDA

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This week from the Ministry of Health’s press release on the outbreak in Uganda:

1) Results from 4,242 samples tested on Monday 7th September 2020 - 124 confirmed cases 2) Results from 1,989 samples tested on Tuesday 8th September 2020 – 201 confirmed cases As per Thursday 10th September 2020: 3) Results from 2,301 samples tested on Wednesday 9th September 2020 – 190 confirmed cases. 4) Results from 2,301 samples tested on Thursday 10th September 2020 – 86 confirmed new cases to give a cumulative of 4,377 confirmed cases of Ugandans and a total of 1,998 Ugandan recoveries. 49 COVID-19 related deaths registered to date.

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WEEKLY UPDATE ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND KEY EMERGING ISSUES WITHIN THE WORKING ENVIRONMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN UGANDA DURING THE PREVALENCE OF COVID-19

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The Week of 31st August – 6th September 2020

The week of 31st August to 6th September, 2020 was marred by series of serious chaos and violence around various parts of the country during the NRM primaries/elections. Some people lost their lives and many suffered grievous injuries while security agents resorted to the use of tear gas and live bullets in bid to calm the situation. Many questioned whether elections is a do or die event, and whether the situation is a glimpse of what the country should expect during the 2021 general elections. These are questions that only time, will answer.

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WEEKLY UPDATE ON THE WORKING ENVIRONMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN UGANDA AND KEY EMERGING HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC PREVALENCE

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Issue no.21: The Week of 24th - 30th August 2020

At the start of the week, there were speculations about another COVID-19 lockdown because of increased number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in the country. The public anxiously waited for the presidential address on Tuesday 25th August 2020 which eventually died out when no address was held. Uganda outwardly expressed that it was not ready for another lockdown despite the recent spike in the COVID-19 cases. Various issues noted from the health sector situation in managing the virus outbreak, journey through to the 2021 general elections and other human rights issues.

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Job Advert

Position: Programme Officer - Monitoring and Evaluation

The Programme Officer-Monitoring and Evaluation is responsible for leading the implementation of the Human Rights Centre Uganda (HRCU) Monitoring and Evaluation plan to monitor progress, evaluate effectiveness, and disseminate results of the different project activities. The Programme Officer- Monintoring and Evaluation has primary responsibility for identifying Monintoring and Evaluation needs, designing and maintaining data collection systems and for ensuring that all necessary information, from both routine reporting as well as from ad hoc data collection efforts and special studies, is collected, analyzed and used in guiding internal project planning and informing staff about the different project activities and accomplishments. The Programme Officer- Monintoring and Evaluation conducts all appropriate analyses, including the use of complementary datasets and secondary analysis, and fully documents activities and accomplishments in the form of reports, publications and presentations to staff and donors. In addition, s/he provides mentoring to staff to monitor and evaluate the different project activities. Lastly, s/he is responsible for writing up and publishing lessons learned from the Monintoring and Evaluation of different projects.

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WEEKLY UPDATE ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND KEY EMERGING ISSUES IN THE WORKING ENVIRONMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN UGANDA DURING THE PREVALENCE OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC

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ISSUE NO.16: THE WEEK OF 20TH JULY – 26TH JULY 2020

During this week, on 21st July 2020, His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni gave his 19th address to the nation concerning the COVID-19 situation in Uganda. He announced further adjustments to the lockdown restrictions through which he allowed the re-opening of saloons and 110 arcades but with clear guidelines to be observed, including wearing of face masks and face shields and the use of temperature guns at the entrances of the business premises. Boda bodas were to resume work on 27th July 2020 with the riders having customer registration registers, sanitizers, masks and to write down the name of every passenger who must also wear a mask. They would work until 6:00pm. Curfew time was also adjusted from 7:00pm - 6:30am to 9:00pm - 5:30am. Schools, places of worship and border points were to remain closed.

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HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND OTHER ISSUES AFFECTING HUMAN RIGHTS AMIDST THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

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Amidst the challenges, Uganda joined the rest of the world on 5th June 2020 to commemorate World Environment Day under the national theme, “Nature is Speaking, Listen!” This theme was chosen following the increased water volumes causing floods and landslides in various parts of Uganda. Ugandans were therefore called upon to take action and protect the environment by restoring degraded areas, planting trees and stop encroachment.

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Document Human Rights Violations

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Contextual analysis of the HRDs’ working environment and some of the human rights issues that were documented by HRCU in the month of May, 2020.

Welcome to the month of June! HRCU congratulates you upon the successful and peaceful commemoration of Uganda Martyrs Day that happened yesterday Wednesday June 3, 2020.

As you may be aware, during his 14th nation address on May 18, 2020 on the situation of Covid-19 in Uganda, the President issued new directives pointing to the easing of the lock down that started on March 31, 2020. Further guidance in the same regard was given on Monday June 1, 2020.

HRCU welcomes the guidelines as a positive step indicating Uganda’s readiness to allow citizens get back to working towards economic recovery that shall facilitate the promotion, protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

HRCU continues to monitor, document and report on the working environment of human rights defenders while at the same time taking note of the key human rights issues and challenges within the environment that must be expeditiously addressed to allow citizens realize and enjoy their rights and freedoms.

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COMMEMORATION OF WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY, 2020

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Journalism without Fear or Favour

This Sunday 3rd May, 2020, Uganda will join the world to commemorate the World Press Freedom Day under the theme “Journalism without Fear or Favour” as a reminder to governments and key stakeholders of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom. It is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics; a day to support journalists and media practitioners who/which are targets for the restraint or abolition of press freedom. Journalists who lost their lives in the pursuit of newsworthy stories are also remembered on the day.

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Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

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Human Rights Centre Uganda (HRCU) Measures Taken in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

Following the ongoing situation of the COVID-19 Pandemic and outbreak in Uganda, we have also taken the necessary precautions as advised by World Health Organisation, Ministry of Health and the President’s directives and guidelines.

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HRDs Annual Forum 2020

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The Human Rights Centre Uganda organised a successful HRDs Annual Forum, 2020 at Silver Springs Hotel, Kampala. In attendance were HRDs from the different parts of the country; Northern, Estern, Western and Central regions.

The Forum was oranised under the theme: “Human Rights Defenders and Elections: Towards Effective Protection and Promotion of Their Rights and Work”.

The forum focused and placed into perspective the likely road on which HRDs will move towards the 2021 general elections. Given the nature of their work, recognition and appreciation should be accorded to HRDs because they are always at the forefront of ensuring that communities are not only aware of their rights and responsibilities but also that they actually live to realize these rights and fundamental freedoms.

Defend Defenders Visit HRCU's new home

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The Executive Director Defend Defender Mr. Hassan Shire together with his team visited HRCU at Mugulusi Close, Kyanja to congratulate the Executive Director HRCU Ms. Margaret Sekaggya and her staff on this achievement. They also held a meeting to discuss the security surveillance of the premises.

HRCU's Home

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HRDs' Hub

The Human Rights Centre Uganda has changed it's location from Plot 83 Katalima Road, Naguru to Plot 198 Mugulusi Close, along Kyanja Ring Road, Kyanja - Kampala

WOMEN HRDS’ CONFERENCE 2019

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WOMEN HRDS’ CONFERENCE 2019

HRCU in collaboration with Phenomenal Women Uganda organized the second Women Human Rights Defenders Conference under the theme; "Step into your purpose and refocus for 2020" on 12th December 2019, Kampala.

At the conference women were empowered and provided leadership skills to the participants in order for them to achieve their personal and professional goals.

More pictures for the conference

ADVOCACY ON A SPECIFIC LAW FOR PROTECTION OF HRDS IN UGANDA

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On Wednesday 11th September, 2019, a meeting was held between some HRD Law Collaborating NGOs (DPI, HRCU and NCHRDU) to discuss and plan for further advocacy engagements on having a law for protection of HRDs in Uganda. It is expected that the efforts will lead to drafting and promulgation of the HRDs’ Protection law in Uganda.

"Together We Advocate, Together We Lay Real Strategies."

Dialogue between CSO and Minister of Internal Affairs

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NGO LEADERS’ MEETING WITHTHE MINISTER OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS, HON. OBIGA KANIA TO DISCUSS PERTINENT ISSUES RELATING TO THE HEALTH AND OPERATING ENVIRONMENT OF NGOS IN UGANDA

On 27th August, 2019, The Human Rights Centre Uganda in partnership with the National Bureau for NonGovernmental Organisations and Uganda National NGO Forum organised a Dialogue meeting to discuss pertinent issues relating to the health and operating environment of NGOs and the NGO Sub sector in Uganda. The meeting was attended by a number of targeted stakeholders such as representatives from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Local Government, Uganda Police Force, International NGOs and Development Partners, Financial Intelligence Authority, District Network Leaders, among others.

A Paper on key issues or concerns of NGOs was presented by the Executive Director of the NGO Forum, Mr. Richard Sewakiryanga tow which responses were given by the NGO Bureau and other key government agencies and the State Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon. Obiga Kania.

Among the key concerns were the proposal by government to merge State agencies and the impact this would have on NGOs; the need to implement the requirement to establish the District NGO Monitoring Committees (DNMCs); selection of the NGO representatives on the DNMCS; illegal fees collection from NGOs by Local Government; difficulties in acquiring MOUs from Local Governments; continuous NGO Break-ins and the failure to produce investigations findings or reports; Tensions between NGOs, RDCs and Security agencies; Uncoordinated State intercations with the NGO Sector; the short time period allocated for NGOs validation and; the need to have an annual Sector Review.

The key outcomes from the meeting were:

• A commitment by the Minister to continue having quarterly dialogue meetings between the Minister and the NGO Sub sector leaders;

• The need to have the dialogue meetings at district level as well;

• NGOs should always comply with the set legal requirements for instance to undergo the validation exercise within the allocated timeline;

• NGO Desks would be opened within different line Ministries and Departments of Government such as the Directorate of Criminal Investigations; Uganda Police Force; Office of the President; Ministry of Local Government; among others;

• Communication had already been sent by the Ministry of Local Government to all District Accounting Officers to operationalise the District NGO Monitoring Committees.

• NGOs should continue working closely with the District Authorities and also harmonise their budgets with those of the district activities.

• The proposal to have an NGO Annual Sub Sector Review was fully embraced by the stakeholders.

• NGO Leaders should always feel free to approach and interact with the relevant Authorities such as the Uganda Police Force, Financial Intelligence Authority, the National NGO Bureau and many others so as to avoid suspicion and working with/on false information.

• NGOs working on civil and political rights and electoral reforms should organise themselves for a separate meeting with the Minister where the subject of electoral reforms shall be discussed in detail.

World Press Freedom Day

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Stand with Human Rights Defenders in the media fraternity on World Press freedom Day, 3rd May 2019

The 3rd May 2019 marks the 26th celebration of World Press Freedom Day. This year’s theme is: Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation. This day is jointly organized by UNESCO, the African Union Commission and the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The main event took place in Addis Ababa, on 1-3 May at the African Union Headquarters.

The purpose of this day is to defend the media from attacks on their independence, pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty, assess the state of press freedom throughout the world and celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom.

The number of events being held in Addis Ababa and internationally, under the 2019 theme, will address key priorities for the World and for Africa. Some of these key priorities include; how the digital era is affecting electoral communications; medias role in democracy through discrediting professional journalism, and disrupting internet access; and media’s potential to contribute to a culture of sustainable peace and democracy. Uganda has seen a high rate of growth of a dynamic and vibrant media industry covering different interests and views, journalists play a key role in the protection and promotion of human rights in Uganda by exposing human rights violations such as the violation of the right to life attributed to mob justice, human sacrifice as well as the right to property with the main focus on land issues. Yet journalists in Uganda have faced some challenges as they exercise their right to seek receive and impart information including reports of some journalists being subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment; arbitrary deprivation of poverty and unlawful arrests sometimes including instances of charges under laws that courts have declared to be inconsistent with the Constitution. There have also been reports of journalists being denied access to news scenes and their equipment being confiscated, damaged or destroyed, as well as operating under poor working conditions with no safety and protection gear. There is also the growing problem of low professionalism among journalists, which has in some cases led to irresponsible, inaccurate and unbalanced media reports that have had the potential to excite and inflame rather than inform. A 2016 report by HRNJ-Uganda, it was noted that Journalists experienced 135 human rights violations and the police was the main violator of their rights. The Human Rights Centre Uganda(HRCU) recognizes that journalists are Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) that require protection and promotion of their rights. HRCU has collaborated with Journalists all over Uganda and ensure that they are invited to speak on panels at our Annual Forum to raise awareness of their suffering and violations of their rights.

On Thursday 2nd of May, there was a Media Dialogue to celebrate World Press Freedom Day at Hotel Africana. MadamThe Executive Director of HRCU Mdse Margaret Sekaggya, the Executive Director of HRCU was in attendance and gave a speech highlighting the importance of professionalism amongst Journalists in Uganda. On Friday 3rd May, there was a March in celebration of World Press Freedom Day.

Recommendations to the Government and its agencies;

1. Uphold its duty to respect, protect and fulfil the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression

2. Implement recommendations it adopted during Uganda’s Universal Periodic Review in Geneva in 2011.

3. Consider a visit to Uganda by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression as a sign of our country’s commitment to promoting this right.

4. Review all media laws to assess their compliance with international human rights standards in order to implement law reforms that would improve the media regulatory environment and to expedite the process of erasing from the law books, all press laws that have been nullified by the Courts of Law.

Recommendations to Civil Society;

1. Advocate for the rights of Journalists and raise awareness about the human rights violations that they face.

2. Call out and speak out against the violators of Journalists rights.

3. Capacity build journalists about professionalism within their occupation.

4. Insist that media houses provide the safety measures required for the unique work that journalists do.

Recommendations to Development Partners;

1. Provide funds for trainings on security and safety of Journalists.

2. Provide funds for the resources needed to ensure security and safety of Journalists.

3. Monitor and evaluate the use of these resources and safety skills within the media houses in Uganda.

Uganda's Human Rights defender, William Amanzuru, wins EU HRDs award 2019

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William Amanzuru an environmental rights defender from Adjumani has been named as the winner of the EU Human Rights Defenders’ Award 2019 on the 6th May 2019 at the residence of the Norwegian Ambassador in Kampala, is given annually by the European Union and Norway to recognise an outstanding contribution by a human rights defender in Uganda.

William Amanzuru was chosen as the winner because of his courageous defence of environmental rights in his local area, including speaking out against destruction of the Zoka Forest, the only natural rainforest in Adjumani District in North West Uganda.

Zoka Forest has been targeted by illegal logging, which reduces biodiversity and increases the chances of landslides, making it harder for local communities to farm and sustain their livelihoods.

Because of his work to expose the powerful individuals behind the illicit activities, Amanzuru has faced threats, surveillance and intimidation. His family have also been targeted as a consequence of his activism.