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HURIPEC Convenes Stakeholders to Discuss Militarization, Sustainable Growth & Peace In Uganda

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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.

Major General Henry Matsiko – National Political Commissar, UPDF
Major General Henry Matsiko – National Political Commissar, UPDF

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. Zahara Nampewo – Director, HURIPEC, School of Law, Makerere University.
Dr. Zahara Nampewo – Director, HURIPEC, School of Law, Makerere University.

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.

Prof. Christopher Mbazira, Principal, School of Law, Makerere University.
Prof. Christopher Mbazira, Principal, School of Law, Makerere University.

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.

Prof. Ole Wæver – CRIC, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Prof. Ole Wæver – CRIC, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

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. Fredrick Jjuuko, School of Law, one of the day's panelists.
Prof. Fredrick Jjuuko, School of Law, one of the day’s panelists.

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.

Prof. Sallie Simba – Department of Political Science, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), one of the day's panelists.
Prof. Sallie Simba – Department of Political Science, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), one of the day’s panelists.

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.

Brigadier General Felix Kulaigye – Director Mindset Change, Operation Wealth Creation (OWC).
Brigadier General Felix Kulaigye – Director Mindset Change, Operation Wealth Creation (OWC).

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
Ms. Sarah Bireete – Director, Centre for Constitutional Governance
Ms. Sarah Bireete – Director, Centre for Constitutional Governance

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

Law

NETPIL Calls for Effective Access to Justice

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Mr. Arthur Nsereko – Coordinator, Network of Public Interest Lawyers (NETPIL) at the breakfast meeting with members of the Media on 17th November 2021, Piato Restaurant, Kampala.

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.

Ms. Veronica Kange – Legal Officer, Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC), School of law, Makerere University makes her presentation.
Ms. Veronica Kange – Legal Officer, Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC), School of law, Makerere University makes her presentation.

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

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Prof. Mbazira Receives ULS Distinguished Service Award

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Prof. Christopher Mbazira, Ag. Principal School of Law and 2021 ULS Award Winner of Distinguished Service in Promotion of Legal Education.

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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Mak Law Society Launches Golden Jubilee Celebrations

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A screenshot of Prof. P.L.O. Lumumba delivering his address on the theme “The Role of Students in a Contemporary Democracy” during the Virtual Launch of MLS@50 celebrations on 10th August 2021, Makerere University.

By Harriet Musinguzi

Law students have been urged to become revolutionaries by conquering themselves, identify problems and participate in the struggle to change their society and humanity without expecting anything in return.

Prof. P.L.O. Lumumba further urged the students to make good use of their time as students to become the much needed agents of change and warriors of democracy by utilizing the intellectual fire power while their time at University still holds.

This was during the Virtual launch of the Golden Jubilee Celebration of Makerere Law Society, held on Tuesday 10th August 2021.

The Guest speaker Prof. Lumumba, a Lawyer and Teacher from Kenya further expressed confidence that Makerere University School of Law was providing a good incubation opportunity for the students to enable them become good Lawyers that would be agents of change in many respects in the area of Agriculture, Politics and Law, not only in Uganda but able to dissolve the boundaries all over Africa.

In reference to the Theme of the event, ‘The Role of the Student in Contemporary Democracy”, Prof. Lumumba who described democracy as  a political environment in which the people’s will is expressed, noted that the scholarly definitions of the term Democracy were euro centered and urged the law students and scholars to reconfigure the DNA of such foundational terms handed over to them in class in order to fit into the African context. 

Using the example of the electoral processes as one of the tenets of democracy, he observed that the African continent had become a victim as seen from the heavy security deployments during the election period in a number of states, which he said calls into question the meaning  of democracy. 

Prof. Lumumba urged the Law students to establish the reasons as to why Lawyers were called ‘Learned Friends’, a history preserved for three professions including Doctors and Theologians. ‘Law is a qualification which requires extensive training, a profession in the world that claims to have mastered knowledge whose decisions bind all other professionals’, he explained.

On their role in society, he said Lawyers who were warriors of truth and justice needed to conduct themselves with dignity for the good of society.’ A Lawyer is an important agent and plays a critical role in society’ he said urging the students to be ethical, true to justice, humble and to recognize that they were not a monopoly of knowledge.   

He observed that despite the fact that  Law was an honorable profession, many a times, lawyers were perceived as parasitic rather than agents of social engineering in society. He urged the Law students to establish whether they were parasitic and whether the communities got better or poorer because of them.

The Guest Speaker congratulated the Makerere University community, the MLS and all stakeholders for the 50 years of existence and the monumental contribution by the association and the alumni in Uganda and beyond.

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Please see embedded video below for proceedings of the MLS@50 Virtual Launch


MLS@50: Launch of Golden Jubilee Celebrations for the Makerere Law Society

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