Why UHRC Selective Approach Puts EACOP Project in Danger
The double-sided or rather selective approach being exhibited by the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHR) when it comes to safeguarding the rights of Ugandans is likely to put the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) into even more jeopardy.
It should be noted that rights activists across the world have for the past few weeks been staging protests in various countries against thegovernment’s intentions to implement the EACOP project, citing gross human rights abuse in Uganda.
It all started after several members of the National Unity Platform(NUP) party headed by Robert Kyagulanyi, petitioned the European Union seeking to halt the EACOP project, faulting the government security apparatus for perpetrating human rights violations, especially through the rampant abductions of innocent Ugandans.
Following their petition, the European Union advised the government of Uganda to halt all intentions of going ahead with the implementation of the EACOP project, although President Yoweri Museveni has since stressed that the project must be implemented come rain or sunshine.
UHRC Comes Into Spotlight While this rope-pulling between the government and human rights activists is going on, UHRC, the government human rights watchdog, is turning a blind eye and deaf ear.Despite several calls by NUP members and opposition to the UHRC to reign in on government agencies faulted for human rights violations, the Commission has always seemed reluctant to pursue such matters.
Bobi Wine and other opposition politicians have severally called upon UHRC to compel security forces to produce hundreds of NUP members and supporters who have been abducted in the recent past but all their calls land on deaf ears.
Several rights activists have over time cried out to the UHRC to apprehend police officers and security operatives accused of violating human rights in vain, yet in most cases victims have lost their lives while others have been maimed for life.However, despite all the these overwhelming cases of human rights violation, the UHRC had kept silent until recently, when National Resistance Movement (NRM) mobilizer Ivan Kamuntu aka Majjambere was allegedly assaulted by NUP supporters on Tuesday October 25th, 2022during the burial of Jakana Nadduli, former minister Hajji Abdul Nadduli son in Nakaseke District.Following the incident, the UHRC, which had always ignored the violation of rights of Ugandans who are not NRM supporters, came out with a strongly worded statement,condemning the violence.
“We condemn such acts of intolerance among the citizens and call for respect for divergent views,” the UHRC statement says in part.“The Commission calls on law enforcement agencies to carry out expeditious investigations into the incident, with a view to apprehending and charging those who perpetrated the violence. Police should also strengthen its community policing and neighbourhood watch programmes across the country in order to forestall acts of criminality like the one in question, from the communities…” the statement adds.
However, following this seemingly selective approach, many pro-democracy and rights activists contend that this casts UHRC in a light of being double-sided.
This is because many are asking themselves, why does the Commission come out now, after Majambere’s attack, yet there are several other Ugandans whose human rights have been violated without the same Commission ever doing anything about it.
Therefore, the activists contend that instead of the UHRC making good of the human rights situation in Uganda by not selectively safeguarding the rights of all Ugandans such that the EACOP project can proceed, the Commission is actually adding salt to injury. Their selective approach to the protection of human rights actually puts the country in the eyes of the international community as champions at human rights violations.The best thing for the Commission would therefore be observing and ensuring the protection of human rights for all Ugandans as mandated by the constitution and to book all people accused of human violation in Uganda.Only by doing so, then it will be easier for the international community to change their negative perception about Uganda, which will in turn not only attract foreign investment but also pave way for the implementation of sensitive projects like the EACOP.
Enter Succession Talk
It should however be noted that the Majambere-UHRC saga also comes at a time when the Ugandan political environment is shrouded in suspense about the next president, the phrase ‘Succession Talk’ always coming up whenever political pundits broach this subject.In simple terms, Succession Talk refers to the succeeding of President Museveni by his son Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, which is also known as the ‘MuhooziProject.This Succession Talk was first brought to the public realm by Rtd. Gen. David Sejusa, who in 2013 wrote a letter to the media allegedly exposing a sinister plot by some elements in government to make Muhoozi succeed president Museveni. This is because anyone who dares to talk about the ‘Succession Talk’either disappears, gets abducted, ends up dead or loses a loved one.Actually, one of the people who have over time come out to vehemently speak against this Succession Talk is none other than Hajji Nadduli, a former Minister without portfolio.But when Nadduli, a bush-war hero, started airing his opinions about Succession Talk on different media platforms he was immediately sidelined by the state and since then he has never been appointed to any government office.The same scenario happened to former Vice President Prof. Gilbert Bukenya, former Security Minister and presidential contender Gen. Henry Tumukunde,former spy chief Rtd Gen. David Sejusa and the list goes on. Political pundits and human rights activists thus wonder why the topic of Succession Talk is so sensitive that everyone who dares to broach ends up being visited upon calamity.
Note: The writer, Keefa Nuwahereza, is a rights activist and politician vying for the Kamwokya LC 3 seat on the National Unity Platform (NUP) ticket.