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HomeNewsUganda Rejects UN Rights Office Renewal

Uganda Rejects UN Rights Office Renewal

Uganda Rejects UN Rights Office Renewal

Uganda announced on Wednesday that it will not renew the mandate of the UN Human Rights Office, a decision that has been criticized by the opposition in a country where freedoms are regularly threatened.

“Our human rights record has greatly improved over the years under the capable leadership of President (Yoweri) Museveni,” state minister for foreign affairs Henry Okello Oryem told AFP.

He stated that Uganda had established “vibrant” internal bodies such as the Uganda Human Rights Commission and civil society groups to monitor the country’s human rights performance.

However, the East African country has seen a series of crackdowns on those who oppose Museveni’s 36-year rule, with journalists being attacked, lawyers being imprisoned, and opposition leaders being violently muzzled.

In November last year, the UN’s Committee Against Torture voiced its concern about reports that “torture and ill-treatment continued to be frequently practiced in the country”.

It also urged Uganda to end the use of “safe houses,” or unlicensed detention facilities.

‘Breakthrough’ –

On February 3, Uganda informed the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) that it would not be renewing the mandate beyond its current term.

The letter, seen by AFP, said the move reflected “the strong government commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, the prevailing peace throughout the country coupled with strong national human rights institutions and a vibrant civil society with the capacity to monitor the promotion and protection of human rights throughout the country”.

But the move was criticized by the opposition, which accused the government of being “paranoid”.

“It’s not surprising that they are not renewing the mandate of the UN office because they fear strict observance of human rights,” said National Unity Platform shadow foreign minister Muwada Nkunyingi.

“The government wants to continue violating human rights unabated, and this office is seen as a roadblock to their evil intentions toward Ugandans,” he says.

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The National Unity Platform is led by Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, who unsuccessfully ran against Museveni in the January 2021 election and has been frequently targeted by security forces.

That year, security forces assaulted a group of political activists who had gone there to petition the UN over alleged human rights violations following the elections.

Journalists covering the protest were beaten, several were injured, and their equipment was briefly confiscated before the then-military chief, David Muhoozi apologized.

The UN rights office in Kampala, which was established in 2005 and whose mandate is renewed every few years, did not respond immediately.