The 6th of July 2021 was a monumental day in the School of Law Makerere University following the laying of the foundation stone for the new office block. The three storied structure will house Lecture, tutorial and seminar rooms, a library, a moot court, a cafeteria and a number of offices. The project to cost Uganda Shillings 7.3 Billion is expected to be completed in a period of eight months with works undertaken by Symbion as the consultants and Ms CK Associates as the Contractor.
While presiding over the ground breaking ceremony at the School of Law, the Chairperson of Makerere University Council Mrs Lorna Magara affirmed the University’s commitment in ensuring that the structure is completed in the set time. She noted that the need for a new building for the School of Law was glaring and commended Government of Uganda for responding to the call made by Council and Management in availing resources for the project. She noted that the approved designs provided for the needed infrastructure required by the School of Law to deliver on its mandate of teaching, research and knowledge transfer in the legal field.
Mrs. Magara urged the Law faculty and students to support the University in the delivery on its mandate as provided for in the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act and the National Development Plan 3 goal of Human development. She called for provision of guidance in policy making processes and administrative decisions that have legal implications.
She further said Universities were challenged to become centers of innovation noting that Makerere University had started realising some for the results through innovations like the Kiira EV vehicle and the Covid testing kits among others. She pointed out the need to ensure the protection and reward of intellectual property rights. ‘We need to find a way to protect and reward individual innovation and enterprise within publicly funded research while providing the right incentives for researchers and innovators’ she emphasized and further called for the support of the legal expertise in the School of Law in the enforcement of the patent rights for the innovators.
The Ag. Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs Dr. Umar Kakumba noted that the all the prominent members of the bench except a few were products of the School of Law Makerere University. He congratulated the management of the School of Law for the great work realized over time despite the challenges of space and infrastructure. He specially applauded the enthusiasm exhibited in the School of Law through legal research in the Human Rights and Peace Centre, the Community Outreaches undertaken by the Public Interest Law Clinic, and the Disability Law research and advocacy in the Disability Law and Rights Centre.
HURIPEC Convenes Stakeholders to Discuss Militarization, Sustainable Growth & Peace In Uganda
The Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC) hosted a Multi Stakeholder engagement on militarisation, sustainable growth and peace in Uganda. The event was held on Wednesday, 17th November 2021 to discuss the question, ‘Is the growing militarization of Uganda’s civilian institutions necessary for development and compatible with human rights and democracy?’ This was hosted under the auspices of HURIPEC’s collaborative research project – Security, Peace and Development in partnership with the Centre for Resolution of International Conflicts (CRIC) at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Established in 1993, HURIPEC is a semi-autonomous centre and department under the School of Law (SoL), Makerere University. HURIPEC is an academic teaching unit that oversees the teaching of human rights and human rights related courses. The centre is also a research and activist engine, aiming to generate human rights conscious law graduates sensitive about relevant human rights, peace and governance issues in Uganda.
The multi-stakeholder engagement was an opportunity to explore the role of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) In the country’s development agenda. Panelists presenting at the event included academia, civil society and the UPDF to discuss the nature, extent and rationale of the UPDF’ involvement in development. There has been an increasing role and appointment of UPDF to lead institutions in agriculture, fisheries, health, roads and construction, police among others.
In her welcome remarks, Dr. Zahara Nampewo – Director, HURIPEC explained that ‘we are seeing an increasing role of the security sector in Uganda’s development. However, as we recognized at the start of the project in 2019, security in development is profoundly under-examined, both theoretically and empirically in the larger development context’. The project therefore is undertaking to provide a deeper understanding of the role of security actors, both within Uganda and regionally in development.
Dr. Nampewo stressed the importance of partnerships for successful implementation of the project and appreciated their partners at CRIC for this worthwhile academic engagement. She also thanked the Principal – SoL, Makerere University Management for the support extended to HURIPEC in implementing the project. She also thanked the HURIPEC team for organizing the event and to all the participants who attended.
Speaking at the event, Prof. Christopher Mbazira – Principal, SoL welcomed Prof- Umar Kakumba – DVC Academic Affairs, Makerere University who represented the Vice Chancellor. He thanked the University Management for the support accorded to SoL. He also thanked all the participants for honoring the invitation to attend the engagement. Prof. Mbazira highlighted the importance of the discussions at the event owing to the inclusion of Security and Governance as a key Programme of the National Development Plan (NDP) III.
He reiterated that there has been limited research on security and its effect on development thus the SoL is compelled to study this area to contribute evidence on the role of the Military on development. Prof. Mbazira highlighted that while there is a lot of data on the militarisation of police, there is limited research regarding military in fisheries, Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), revenue collection among others. The Principal welcomed the partnership with CRIC, thanking Prof. Ole from CRIC who attended the meeting.
Prof. Ole Wæver – CRIC, University of Copenhagen said that a lot of research has been done together with HURIPEC and expressed their happiness to continue the partnership considering the results and data produced.
Ms. Ann Sophie Oxlund – 1st Secretary, Royal Danish Embassy, Uganda congratulated the HURIPEC and CRIC for the work done to understand the intersection of military, governance, development and democracy. She noted that it is important for the government to respect democracy, freedom of expression and human rights. She also reiterated that DANIDA is happy to support the project and looks forward to the results of the research conducted; the academia and civil society should continue to engage the military and other security agencies on how to get a better understanding of what is happening in Uganda.
The engagement was officially opened by Prof. Umar Kakumba – Deputy Vice Chancellor/Academic Affairs, Makerere University who represented the Vice Chancellor. He thanked SoL and HURIPEC for organizing the event to discuss the important issues pertaining to security and development.
Prof. Kakumba noted that ‘development is a key issue for a country but it can’t be achieved without peace and security’ He thanked the organisers for inviting the security agencies to be part of the discussions. The Makerere University Strategic Plan is premised on the role of Makerere as a leader in knowledge generation for societal transformation and thus the discussions here contribute to knowledge generation and ranking of the university, the Deputy Vice Chancellor highlighted.
He also noted that HURIPEC is one of the flagship units for Makerere University for research and publications directly contributing to the university’ ranking. Prof. Kakumba further noted that Makerere is well-position to provide policy advice an contribute to important conversations for the country.
He welcomed the support from the Royal Danish Embassy and partnership with CRIC. He thanked Prof. Mbazira and colleagues for taking Makerere University out of the Ivory Tower and contributing to national development.
Panelists presenting at the event included: Ms. Sarah Bireete – Director, Centre for Constitutional Governance, Major General Henry Matsiko – National Political Commissar, UPDF, Brigadier General Felix Kulaigye – Director Mindset Change, OWC, Prof. Fredrick Jjuuko – SoL, Prof. Sallie Simba – Department of Political Science, College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The moderator was Mr. Charles Odongtho.
Some of the issues arising from the presentations and discussions included:
- As a country we do not know whether there can be change of government without involvement of the army.
- Citizens have to speak freely and hold leaders to account.
- There is need to define the role of the army in engaging civilian institutions.
- Militarisation is derogatory word.
- The army has been assigned to undertake the tasks because civilian managers have failed in some cases
- The involvement of the army in national development shouldn’t be an issue to cause anxiety.
- Lessons are present for Uganda as seen from the advances by the ‘Asian Tigers’ where the army has greatly contributed to national development.
- The nation must learn from the circumstances that led to 1966 attack of the Lubiri nd more recently in 2017 attack of the Rwenzururu Palace by the army otherwise the same mistakes will be repeated.
- The institutions like Parliament have abdicated their role to hold army to account.
- There is ‘civilianization’ of the military rather than ‘militarisation’ of society
The meeting ended with calls for an understanding of the exit strategy of the army’s involvement in civilian works and the implication of military involvement on democracy, peace, security among other sectors. There is also the need to understand how to harness the UPDF as a resource for development in Uganda. ‘How do we work together amicably?’
Dr. Zahara Nampewo closed the meeting and thanked all the participants and panelists for the presentations, discussions and attending the engagement. She reiterated that ‘this is only a scratch of the surface and we hope to host more of these conversations’
Zaam Ssali is the Principal Communication Officer SoL & MakCHS
NETPIL Calls for Effective Access to Justice
The Network of Public Interest Lawyers (NETPIL) has called on various state actors (police, security agencies, courts of law) to ensure effective access to justice as well as effective remedies to the people of Uganda. This call was made at a media breakfast meeting held on Wednesday, 17th November, 2021 at Piato Restaurant in Kampala. The meeting was intended to equip media personnel with knowledge and skills to report on abuses as well as seek a remedy for victims. The Report titled ‘The 2021 General Elections’ in Uganda: Human Rights Violations & the Spectacle of Violence’ produced by NETPIL was also shared.
NETPIL brings together individual lawyers, CSOs/NGOs and law firms committed to public interest litigation and advocacy; NETPIL is hosted by the Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC) established at the School of law, Makerere University in 2012. PILAC seeks to promote hands-on experiential learning as well as exposing students to ‘live’ cases of individuals who have been confronted by the law in its varied manifestations.
Speaking at the meeting, Mr. Arthur Nsereko – Coordinator, NETPIL said ‘Access to justice (A2J) is a right and basic principle of the rule of law. In the absence of access to justice, people are unable to have their voice heard, exercise their rights, challenge discrimination or hold decision-makers accountable’. He noted that numerous reports have been recorded on violations and abuse in Uganda, but never follow through with access to justice for the abused.
Mr. Nsereko further explained that the State has a duty to respect, protect and fulfil rights including particularly the duty of states to ensure that the rights are implemented through the provision of legislative measures and judicial remedies, in accordance with the national legal system. The State is also obliged to take appropriate steps both to prevent rights violations and to investigate, punish and redress such abuse when it does occur – in other words, to provide access to remedy.
Facts shared at the meeting about the November 2020 riots highlighted that at least 54 people including women and children were reported extra judicially killed where 32 were adjudged rioters, hit by stray bullets while 22 persons were declared innocent and these included juveniles. However, an effective remedy, including reparation and compensation have not been possible for those affected which is a violation of rights.
Presenting at the meeting, Ms. Veronica Kange – Legal Officer, PILAC said ‘for the violation of every right, there must be a remedy. Rights and Freedoms are meaningless if there are no consequences for their violations. For a remedy to be adequate, it should be accessible, affordable, timely and effective. The remedies should be simple and urgent’.
‘There is an expectation by victims to access effective remedies premised on restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, guarantees of non-repetition as well as satisfaction’, Ms. Kange noted.
Issues arising from the presentations and discussions included:
- In boardrooms, lecture rooms we may not be able to solve the challenges hence involvement of the media to disseminate the messages.
- There is a right to truth, justice and remedy.
- Uganda has very good laws but implementation is poor.
- Backlog in courts deters people from seeking for justice in courts of law.
- There is need for effective court processes.
- There is common belief that justice is for the rich because of the costs involved.
- There is thought that the state has abdicated its responsibility.
- Appreciate that police and government always say that they will investigate but how soon do the remedies happen.
- Pre-emptive statement by leaders biases the final decision example bail discussions in parliament.
- The State must respect its institutions.
- Treatment of suspects by the statement.
- Police and other security agencies should desist from use of force or live ammunition when dealing with suspects.
- Interim reports would be welcome as we await final report.
- Opportunity to engage the institutions concerned by civil society but where it fails then alternative steps can be explored.
At the end of the meeting, a press statement on the ‘denial of political players’ to access broadcasting houses’ was presented.
Please see Downloads below for the presentations.
Zaam Ssali is the Principal Communication Officer SoL & MakCHS
Prof. Mbazira Receives ULS Distinguished Service Award
By Harriet Musinguzi
Prof. Christopher Mbazira, the Acting Principal of the School of Law Makerere University has received the 2021 award from Uganda Law Society (ULS) for his Distinguished service in the Promotion of Legal Education.
Professor Mbazira, who is also coordinator of the Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC) was recognized for entrenching the use of Clinical Legal Education methodology in the training of Law students.
In a statement shared on the ULS social media platforms, it was stated that Professor Christopher Mbazira has also spearheaded the mainstreaming of Social Justice and Human Rights across the School curricular. ‘He was one of the 9 academic staff who approached the supreme Court of Uganda and were admitted as amici in the 2016 Presidential Elections.
A number of persons and organizations have applauded the ‘well deserved’ award by Uganda Law society.
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