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Training on Refugee Rights & Protection Successfully Held

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The School of Law (SoL) Clinical Legal Education (CLE) Class of 2021 was hosted by the Refugee Law Project (RLP) for a training on refugee law and rights on the 15th December 2021. The training held at JFrigh Hotel covered topics like sexual violence, legal framework on refugees, trafficking of persons, rights and obligations, transformative justice among others. The sessions were interactive and students kept engaged through the training. The training was well facilitated and as noted by one student Ms. Kemigisha Lizzan, “We were given breakfast, lunch and evening tea which helped us to keep focused since hunger was not an issue. We surely look forward to another training soon.”

One of the facilitators makes his presentation.
One of the facilitators makes his presentation.

On day one of the training, the students were welcomed by Ms. Susan Alupo and the team from RLP who explained what the project entails. Ms. Alupo explained that areas covered include: Access to justice, capacity building, empowerment, mental health, gender and sexuality.Introductions for all members in attendance were conducted and their expectations from the training were given including: To know the legal frame work to protect the refugees; To discuss on the sufficiency of the law in Uganda to protect the rights of refugees; To know the rights and obligations of refugees To know the experiences of refugees in Uganda; To understand the relationship between refugees and the host communities; To discover the role that students can play in refugee protection; and To learn more about transitional justice and how effective it is in resolving conflict.

Female students engage in a discussion during the training.
Female students engage in a discussion during the training.

Ms. Tina Kalitanyi facilitated Session 1: Introduction to Forced Migration and Legal Frameworks on the Protection of Refugees. Ms. Kalitanyi presented to the students the international, regional and domestic legal framework of refugee law. The presentation highlighted; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1951 Convention on the State of Refugees, the 1967 optional protocol and guiding principles, the 1969 O.A.U Convention, the 1995 Uganda constitution, the Uganda National Internally Displaced Persons policy, the Refugee Act and Refugee regulations. The REHOP policy was also pointed out as the policy that requires 70 percent of assistance to refugees and 30percent to host communities while assisting refugees.

A male facilitator delivers his presentation.
A male facilitator delivers his presentation.

Session two covered Rights and Obligations of Refugees while In the host country. This session commenced with a documentary titled ‘Human Lava’ after which students discussed their opinions on the contents of the video. Some of the aspects pointed out included: registration of refugees at the transit centres which are the border areas where refugees converge first; special needs groups are given attention and priority;  relationships with the local people is tense at times because refugees are seen as competition for resources as well as destruction of property at the places they settle. It was concluded that refugees enjoy all rights that are enjoyed by citizens. However, they cannot participate in the politics of their host country because that would create tension in the settlements. Refugees are allowed to vote for their leaders in the settlements as well as own land on leasehold. The obligations of refugees include to respect the laws of Uganda and to pay taxes if involved in gainful employment.

Dr. David Tshimba Facilitated Session 3; Understanding Human Trafficking In the Context of Forced Migration. The session covered the definition of trafficking of persons highlighted the legal framework against trafficking of persons. The protocols covered included the Banjul Convention, the Palermo Protocol, 2000, the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UNCTOC), the Uganda Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act (PTIP), 2009. Dr. Tshimba pointed out the criticisms of the Parlemo convention for the prevention, suppression and punishment of perpetrators of trafficking in persons and this is that it focuses on prosecution and ignores restitution or assistance of victims of human trafficking. A discussion on the problems that are advancing the phenomenon of trafficking in persons was conducted like the advancement of technology and the internet which grants anonymity and disregards geopolitics, a hard to regulate globalization where it is not easy to enforce these International laws as compared to National laws.

Facilitators pose for a group photo with the Cinical Legal Education (CLE) Class of 2021 during the training at JFrigh Hotel, Kampala.
Facilitators pose for a group photo with the Cinical Legal Education (CLE) Class of 2021 after the training at JFrigh Hotel, Kampala.

Session 4: Understanding Conflict- Related Sexual Violence was facilitated by Ms. Doreen Oyella highlighting sexual violence in the context of conflict (SVC); potential perpetrators of SVC; victims/ survivors of SVC and what makes them vulnerable. It was noted that sexual violence is used as a weapon of war, to cause terror, to assert power and as a systematic attack against communities. It was also discussed that perpetrators can be soldiers including state soldiers, civilians. The facilitator took the students through the misconceptions on sexual violence which include that men cannot be raped.

The training continued on day two with a recap of work covered on day 1 where students talked about the take away from the previous sessions and Mr. Veve Richard thanked them for paying attention and being good learners. The sessions for day 2 included Understanding Mental Health in the Context of Forced Migration facilitated by Mr. Akulla Ssubi and Understanding Conflict, Transitional Justice and forced Migration facilitated by Mr. Veve Richard.

Students and Refugee Law Project Staff cut cake after the training.
Students and Refugee Law Project Staff cut cake after the training.

Ms. Devota Nuwe, Head of Programmes at Refugee Law Project gave the final marks thanking the students and facilitators for attending the training. Group pictures were also taken for record purposes. The students cut a cake to mark the end of the training. The students thanked the team from Refugee Law project because all their expectations were met during the training.

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School of Law Students conduct Community Engagements

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Ms. Diana Ahumuza Ateenyi, Lecturer, School of Law (Standing) addresses members of the Katanga Community and students during the engagement on 16th December 2021.

“We are supposed to be moving from the league of asking ourselves what is our ranking in the country, on the continent, in the world to asking ourselves, what is that impact in society which is clearly attributed to Makerere” These were words of Mr. Yusuf Kiranda, University Secretary – Makerere University during a stakeholder engagement event on the 25th November 2021, one of the events that the university will host to mark 100 years of Makerere’s journey.

Relating to the call by the University Secretary, the Makerere University, School of Law (SoL) is providing services responsive to societal needs through Externships. Externships introduced in 2013 by the SoL through the Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC) are legal aid clinics, in which students are grouped and placed in various learning environments including partner offices or communities to provide legal support and community literacy. The students also get the opportunity to appreciate real life cases and provide legal advice under the supervision of a Lecturer/Advocate. By so doing students see the relevance or even inadequacy of the law alone on solving of client problems. 

Public Interest Law Clinic (PILAC) is a premier University Based Law Clinic in Uganda affiliated to Makerere School of Law. It was established in 2012 and is accredited to provide legal aid services by Uganda Law Council. PILAC uses hands-on experiential learning to teach future lawyers attached to Makerere School of Law skills and techniques of solving cases using non-legal and legal solutions with a human rights face-social justice and public interest lawyering.

This year, 30 3rd year students offering Clinical Legal Education (CLE) elective have been placed in four (4) groups in  slum communities: Katanga, Kivulu, Kikubamutwe and Kimombasa. These are all communities adjacent to the university and with various legal needs. The externship in Katanga was held on the 16th December, 2021 where the students were accompanied by Ms. Diana Ahumuza Ateenyi, Lecturer at the SoL.

Some of the residents of Katanga that took part in the engagement listen keenly to proceedings.
Some of the residents of Katanga that took part in the engagement listen keenly to proceedings.

The SoL team found members of the community already assembled and ready for the engagement. In her opening remarks, Ms. Keloyi Kabahweza, Community Liaison for PILAC in Katanga Slum welcomed the SoL team and thanked PILAC for supporting the community. Ms. Kabahwezi expressed appreciation of the legal aid services offered which the community would not otherwise afford.

Ms. Ahumuza as Team Leader from SoL introduced the members in the Makerere University, SoL team. She thanked the community for the warm welcome extended and time keeping. She further explained that the main issue to be discussed at this meeting was business and the law including saving groups and how to establish them legally. Ms. Ahumuza stressed that while business was the main issue of discussion, other legal questions from the community would be attended to.

Students presented to the community how to establish saving groups/ SACCOS highlighting the legalities entailed. The confidence exhibited by the students was encouraging despite the use of Luganda as the local language for better understanding by the community. The members of the community attending remained attentive throughout the meeting and asked multiple questions. Some of the issues arising during the discussions included: registering SACCOS and the red-tape involved, documentation and record keeping, trust among members, preparing constitutions for SACCOS and money lending.

Other issues discussed included: Wills and succession, Police bond, Money Lenders Act, Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse and domestic violence. The members reiterated their appreciation of the services provided by SoL/PILAC and advised that leaders require special training. It was noted that many times, the leaders abuse the law and take advantage of their vulnerable constituents; they often side with wrong-doers as well as selling community property like land.

One of the students Ms. Tracy Ibondo (standing) interacts with Katanga residents during the engagement.
One of the students Ms. Tracy Ibondo (standing) interacts with Katanga residents during the engagement.

In her closing remarks, Ms. Diana Ahumuza advised the community that PILAC doors are open to all those persons who require further assistance. She further explained that services are free and everybody is welcome.

It should be noted that:

  • Practical experiences or stories from the clients in the communities, are a great tool of awakening the law students analytical skills, problem solving skills and appreciation of the applicability of the law. 
  • Students are very committed to these activities and find them very enriching to their legal career
  • There is dire need for legal aid services in the communities, hence the need for more interventions and strategic partnerships to  deepen the intervention.
  • Services provided by PILAC are affected by the following challenges: limited financial support from the university to implement PILAC activities; the closure of the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) has affected PILAC’s activities which are donor funded; Covid-19 pandemic remains a big challenge,the team endeavours to adhere to the SOPs when executing community activities; and transportation needs, since the PILAC van is on high demand because of the various demands from activities implemented.

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

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The Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs) Assoc. Prof. Umar Kakumba addresses the Multi-Stakeholder engagement on militarisation, sustainable growth and peace in Uganda organized by HURIPEC, School of Law, Makerere University on 17th November 2021

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

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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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