The Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC) at Makerere University School of Law (SoL) has pledged to continue research on human rights and document its violations in Uganda. This pledge was given by Dr. Zahara Nampewo, Director – HURIPEC at a symposium jointly organised by HURIPEC and Human Rights Watch (HRW) held on the 30th June 2022 at Makerere University. The Symposium titled ‘Rule of Law and Barriers to Accountability for Unlawful Detentions: Challenges and Opportunities’ was attended by Diplomatic Corps, Civil Society representatives,Politicians, Government Officers, Academia, Researchers, Students and the general public.
The symposium was moderated by Professor Joe Oloka-Onyango, Faculty at the SoL. In his introductory remarks he quoted a report, ‘Uganda: The failure to safeguard human rights’ published by Amnesty International in 1992. The report examined the human rights record of the NRM government which had come to power in 1986 after gross human rights by previous governments. The report had concluded that ‘Despite some improvements regarding human rights, arbitrary arrest, illegal detention, torture (including rape) and summary executions by government forces continue to be reported and that the perpetrators are rarely brought to justice. Government critics, e.g. political leaders and newspaper editors, have been charged with offences such as sedition or treason, apparently for political reasons’. Professor Oloka-Onyango noted that 30 years later we are still discussing the question of unlawful detentions and human rights violations. He thanked HURIPEC and HRW for organising the event to allow participants to exchange views.
Professor Christopher Mbazira, Principal – SoL welcomed participants to the SoL and symposium. He thanked HURIPEC and HRW for organising the event noting that such partnerships proudly make SoL outstanding in the country, region and Africa continent.
Professor Mbazira added that ‘Uganda is currently defined as a country with repressed civic space where the population don’t share ideas freely’, He added, ‘Universities serve as civic spaces where people are able to share ideas. Makerere has many departments and colleges but its only SoL that provides civic space to promote human rights at the moment which I think is a mandate for academic institutions. I therefore urge and encourage other units to pick the baton’.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor – Academic Affairs, Professor Umar Kakumba represented Makerere University Management at the symposium. In his remarks, he warmly welcomed participants to Makerere University conveying greetings from management, particularly this centennial year when the institution is celebrating 100 years of existence. He reiterated the role of Makerere in transforming societies through its human capital and research output, adding that it is aligned to the reason we are convened here today to listen to work accomplished by HURIPEC, SoL and partners.
Professor Kakumba noted that Makerere’s history has been punctuated with upheavals linked to politics in Uganda. ‘The topic before us could not have been more timely now and even in the past. For many years after independence, Uganda saw a record of unlawful detentions and torture, many of which unfortunately ended in disappearances and death. Makerere was not spared losing our first Vice Chancellor, Frank Kalimuzo who reportedly was detained and killed on the orders of then President, Idi Amin Dada’. This marked the first attack on intellectualism and independent thinking in Uganda.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor highlighted that universities have a two-pronged role to play in human rights protection; first, human rights education which translates to public debate and opinions because of the autonomy as well as academic freedom of universities. Secondly, research output necessary for educating the next generation of policy and service providers, alongside objective evidence and reviews of current governmental policy. Professor Kakumba commended the School of Law in particular the Human Rights and Peace Centre for continuing to support the teaching of human rights law at Makerere. He further added that ‘as Makerere University, our strategic focus is to be a research-led institution, to provide relevant empirical data to the government and other key actors to guide the country’s policy and development agenda’.
Professor Kakumba explained that he hopes that the discussions here will trigger debate to shape policy on freedom from unlawful detentions.He wished the participants fruitful deliberations and thanked the School of Law, the HURIPEC team for always spearheading research on key legal, human rights and governance issues that always puts Makerere ahead of competitors. He assured the School of the support from University Management.
A keynote speech was delivered by Dr. Busingye Kabumba, Lecturer – SoL. His speech delved into the jurisprudence of liberty. Dr. Kabumba traced a history of documenting liberty quoting the US Declaration of Independence and French Constitution when the Monarchy was deposed. Coming closer to home, he explained that Article 23 of 2005 Uganda Constitution is about protection of personal liberty and a bill of rights is defined; however, while these are written the reality is different.
Dr. Kabumba Busingye added that its demoralizing that when colonialism ended and power handed over to African leaders, the leaders have been harsh. ‘Despite independence and declarations of liberty, the reality is hollow. Nationals are born in captivity and die in captivity in “open air prisons”’ he added. He highlighted laws that support unlawful detentions still in existence on the Uganda books of law like the Law of Idle and disorderly. In such instances, the arresting officer is the determinant of the wrong committed by the offender. Dr. Kabumba Busingye noted that because of unlawful detentions, prisons are full and more are required. He added that there are recent changes happening in the judicial system which will further affect civil liberties in Uganda for example high bail rates, appointment of acting judges among others.
Hon. Winfred Kiiza, former Leader of Opposition in Parliament; Dr. Zahara Nampewo, Director – HURIPEC and Mr. Kenneth Roth, Executive Director – Human Rights Watch constituted a Panel to discuss accountability for unlawful detentions by government institutions. Brigadier General Felix Kulayigye, spokesperson of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) had been invited and accepted to join the Panel but he was unable to attend the symposium.
Hon. Kiiza thanked SoL and HURIPEC for inviting her to attend and speak at the symposium, an opportunity for knowledge sharing. She re-echoed the first stanza of the Uganda National Anthem where one of the lyrics is ‘United, free for liberty together we’ll always stand’. She wondered whether Ugandans are actually free.
Hon. Kiiza stated, ‘everyone is expected to follow the law where the expectation is thatthe law is fair, but is it’. She thanked SoL and HURIPEC for organising the discussions because it has become so difficult to share knowledge. She called for accountability of leaders at all levels adding that we are in a situation of ‘rule by law not rule of law’.
Many issues are interconnected with unlawful detentions but ‘Ugandans have a tendency of normalizing situations, consider the rising prices of fuel (diesel is more expensive than petrol which was unseen before)’, Dr. Zahara Nampewo highlighted. She added that previously, there was a presidential acknowledgment of unlawful detentions where he said, ‘security agencies were arresting perpetrators of terrorism and insecurity, talk of unlawful detentions should be ignored because that can’t happen under the government of National Resistance Movement (NRM)’. Dr. Nampewo also shared summary of the report, ‘Human Rights Violations in Uganda: The Abuse of Civil and Political Rights in the Era of Kisanja Hakuna Mchezo’. The report was produced by HURIPEC to audit observance of human rights in the era of ‘Kisanja Hakuna Mchezo’, President Museveni’s term 2016-2021. The research findings concluded that violations of political and civil rights continued to occur in the term. Some of the violations highlighted included: excessive use of force by security agencies leading to injuries and deaths, detention beyond 48 hours, disappearances to unknown detention places, extra-judicial killings, torture and degrading treatment.
Mr. Kenneth Roth shared what transpired in a meeting that HRW had held with His Excellency, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to share their report on the status of Unlawful Detention and Abuse in Unauthorized Places of Detention in Uganda titled, ‘I Only Need Justice’. Issues discussed included Human Rights Protection Act; holding government accountable;proposed human rights defenders law; persecution of civil society in Uganda through the changes instituted in the NGO law;attacks on press members; Facebook shut down among others. The President promised to review the issues raised.
A number of issues were raised during discussions:
- The four ‘I’s affecting human rights in Uganda were given as: Impunity by security and government personnel;Institutions and their collapse; Information and documentation of human rights violations as evidence for future reference and Implementation of laws and guidelines.
- The role of the international community in holding the government accountable for violations.
- Resilience and response mechanisms by the population.
- The appointment of NRM cadres as judicial officers and in human rights institutions which affects objectivity and impartiality required in justice.
- Partnerships are required in fighting human rights violations, no one or institution can solve the problem alone. Consider development of a strategic plan to bring all parties on table to work together.
- Ugandans are suffering from collective Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to the abuse and violations suffered. The end might be very bad for the country.
- Vicious cycle of abuse of state power from colonial time to subsequent governments in Uganda since independence.
- Torture, fear and intimidation affecting population, media and others players in the country.
- HURIPEC has to organize other meetings like the symposium to continue sharing knowledge on human rights violations and unlawful detentions.
- The civic space in Uganda continues to narrow and hopefully academic institutions can help close the gap.
The organisers of the symposium, HURIPEC and HRW promised to share a detailed report of the meeting.
The symposium was closed by Professor Christopher Mbazira, Principal SoL. He thanked HURIPEC and HRW for organising the Symposium. He also thanked the audience assuring participants that SoL will continue to be a safe civic space.
High Level Delegation from East African Court of Justice visit Mak School of Law
On 30th November 2022, a delegation of Honourable Justices of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) visited Makerere University School of Law to engage academia and students in promoting Justice in the East African Community Integration Agenda.
The visiting delegation was led by Hon. Justice Nestor Kayobera – Judge President of the EACJ together withHon. Justice Kathurima M’Inoti – Judge EACJ Appellate Division, Hon. Justice Cheborion Barishaki – Judge EACJ Appellate Division; Hon. Justice Yohane Masara – Principal JudgeEACJ, Hon. Justice Dr. Charles Nyawello -Deputy Principal JudgeEACJ, Hon Justice Richard Wabwire Wejuli – Judge EACJ First Instance Division and Her Worship Christine Mutimura Wekesa – Deputy Registrar EACJ.
The EACJ delegation was accompanied by members from the Judiciary of Uganda i.e., Hon. Lady Justice Anne Mugenyi – Deputy Head of Commercial Division High Court Uganda, Her Worship Juliet Hatanga – Deputy Registrar Commercial Division High Court Uganda, and Her Worship Juliet Nakitende – Assistant Registrar Commercial Division High Court Uganda.
On arrival, the EACJ delegation were received by the Leadership of the School of Law led by Assoc. Professor Ronald Naluwairo – Principal, Dr. Zahara Nampewo – Deputy Principal, Heads of Department and staff. They were led on a tour of an exhibition of material produced by research centres at the School of Law.
Welcoming the delegation to the School of Law, the Principal, Assoc. Professor Ronald Naluwairo said, ‘we are privileged to host the EACJ as you celebrate 21 years of existence and in a year that Makerere is celebrating 100 years. We are grateful that you chose to spend this special day with us’. Assoc. Professor Naluwairo added that the School of Law recognizes the contribution of the EACJ to the fundamental principles of the East African Community especially good governance issues: adherence to principles of democracy, rule of law, social justice, accountability, transparency and gender equality.
In her remarks, Dr. Zahara Nampewo, Deputy Principal School of Law noted that the visit by a high level delegation from EACJ was a great opportunity for the students. ‘The students are able to see the Justices in real life, having read about their judgements’, she added.
Introducing the delegation, Deputy Registrar of EACJ, Her Worship Christine Mutimura Wekesa introduced the delegation to the students. Her Worship Christine Mutimura Wekesa who is an alumnus of the School fondly reminisced about her days as a student noting that some of the current faculty were her classmates. She urged the students to work hard as soon as they start law school; ‘years run so fast while you are here, don’t wait for the final year to start’, Her Worship advised.
Addressing the students, Hon. Justice Nestor Kayobera, Judge President – EACJ said, ‘today is the 21st Anniversary of the East African Community Treaty and the court. We are beyond honored to celebrate our anniversary at Makerere University as you celebrate 100 years’. He thanked the School for receiving the delegation, ‘I am happy because I am in my house, we feel at home and a great day for us to be here’.
Judge President, Hon. Justice Kayobera encouraged the students to visit the EACJ and witness the work done. ‘The court belongs to you, you should come and see what is happening’ he said. He added that lawyers have a big role to play in as far as access to justice is concerned, ‘the Community needs legal people to resolve their legal issues’.
In his remarks, Mr. Percy Mpindi – President of Makerere Law Society requested the EACJ delegation to consider introduction of a Moot under their sponsorship dedicated to the service at EACJ and East African Community Integration Agenda. ‘This will help bridge the gap between student lawyers and the court’, Percy said.
Hon. Justice Kayobera welcomed Percy’ proposal and advised that Moot Competition is very important, however it would be better to have Moots organised based on judgement writing. Writing competitions could also organised for Law students and East African communities, Hon. Justice Kayobera added.
The EACJ Judge President handed over gifts to the School of Law which included: EACJ Law Reports, copies of the East African Community Treaty; and copies of the Rules of Procedure of the EACJ.
Professor Henry Alinaitwe, Deputy Vice Chancellor – Finance and Administration, Makerere University thanked the delegation for visiting Makerere University and the gifts given to the School of Law. Professor Alinaitwe noted that these visits inspire the students. ‘As a University, we are committed to having a strong School of Law ensuring that we admit the best through pre-entry exams, a new building for the School is under construction which will have state-of-the-art facilities and human resource capacity building for faculty is on-going’, the Deputy Vice Chancellor highlighted.
A vote of thanks was moved by Dr. Busingye Kabumba, Senior Lecturer and Ag. Director – Human Rights and Peace Centre, School of Law. Dr. Kabumba reiterated the message from Makerere Law Society of the willingness to work with the EACJ on various activities that would enhance promotion of Justice in the EA Community Integration Agenda. He added that the academia commit to continue engaging the EACJ on court jurisprudence.
Earlier in the day, the delegation met Professor Barnabas Nawangwe – Vice Chancellor Makerere University. They also held an informative engagement with the University Management; toured an exhibition of research outputs and innovations under the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF); and toured Makerere University Library with particular interest in the Law Section.
East African Court of Justice celebrates 21st Anniversary: Delegation visits Makerere University to engage academia on promoting Justice in the East African integration agenda
By Ritah Namisango
On 30th November 2022, the Vice Chancellor hosted a high powered delegation from the East African Court of Justice to celebrate the 21st Anniversary of the Court focusing on engaging the academia in promoting Justice in the East African community integration agenda.
The President of the East African Court of Justice, Hon. Justice Nestor Kayobera led the delegation consisting of Hon. Lady Justice Sauda Mjasiri- Vice President East African Court of Justice, Hon. Justice Yohane Masara- Principal Judge East African Court of Justice, Hon. Justice Dr. Charles Nyawello- Deputy Principal Judge East African Court of Justice, several other officials from the East African Court of Justice and members of Uganda’s judiciary.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe received the high powered delegation amidst lively performances and entertainment by Makerere University students from the Department of Performing Arts and Film (PAF).
Welcoming the Justices, the Vice Chancellor commended the delegation for ensuring that this historic visit and interaction with the academia happens during Makerere University’s centennial year (1922-2022).
Starting his presentation, Prof. Nawangwe highlighted the evolution of the institution from a technical school with only 14 day students. In 1949, it became a University College affiliated to the University College of London, offering courses leading to the general degrees of its then mother institution. With the establishment of the University of East Africa in June 29, 1963, the special relationship with the University of London came to a close and degrees of the University of East Africa were instituted. On July 1, 1970, Makerere became an independent national university of the Republic of Uganda, offering undergraduate and postgraduate courses leading to its own awards. In 2011, the University transformed from a Faculty based institution to a Collegiate University with ten (10) colleges.
The gist of the Vice Chancellor’s presentation centered on Makerere University’s community based approach. He pointed out that in addition to training students, Makerere University is focused on solving development challenges facing the communities, the country, East Africa and the world in general.
The Vice Chancellor underscored that the University exists to transform communities through identification of development challenges and coming up with tangible solutions. In line with national and global challenges, Makerere University will continue to work with partners to provide solutions to the following challenges: Rapid population growth, Youth unemployment, Climate Change, Food Insecurity, Emerging Diseases, and Conflict.
As Makerere University continues to celebrate 100 years of existence, Prof. Nawangwe emphasized that engagement of the academia to find solutions to the problems affecting communities is one of the best approaches that has enabled Makerere University to remain relevant. To qualify this statement, Prof. Nawangwe mentioned that Makerere University is one of the leading research institutions on HIV/AIDS in Uganda. Makerere University is credited for its role in the development of the Nevirapine drug that prevents mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS as well as breakthroughs in research in Tuberculosis and Malaria. To address the transportation challenge, the staff and students of Makerere University working with other partners came up with the electric vehicle innovation (Kiira EV) that provided a vision for the development of the Kayoola Electric Vehicle under the Kiira Motors Corporation. Working with the local sector, Makerere University staff and students developed the first indigenous diesel engine made fully from local materials. He also mentioned the strides in crop improvement namely sweet potatoes, tomatoes, soybean, sorghum, millet, and among others that are drought resistant and high yielding. He revealed that during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government of Uganda funded Makerere University staff and researchers who came up with research outputs and innovations to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Responding to the Vice Chancellor’s presentation, Hon. Justice Nestor Kayobera applauded Makerere University for not only offering education, but also solving problems affecting society through conducting research and innovations. Hon. Justice Kayobera congratulated Makerere University upon its centennial celebrations. He was pleased to note that the East African Court of Justice was celebrating its 21st anniversary at Makerere University-a renowned alma mater for notable alumni across the globe.
“Today, 30th November 2022 is an extraordinary day. Today is the 21st anniversary of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) and the East African Community (EAC). We are honoured to celebrate our anniversary at Makerere University as this great institution continues to celebrate 100 years of existence. As we celebrate 21 years, we have dedicated 40 days of practicing Justice in Uganda, hosting joint conferences, delivering judgements, visiting partners and celebrating with Makerere University,” he remarked.
Noting that most of the members of the delegation were proud alumni of Makerere University, the President Judge Hon. Kayobera saluted the institution for its great contribution in legal training, capacity building and practice.
“We thank the University for giving unto us great Judges in the Court of Justice of the East Africa, because almost all of the judges in today’s delegation are alumni of the Makerere University School of Law,” he said.
The Judge President disclosed to the University Management that their visit to Uganda, is among the objectives of the EAC treaty, of implementing the principle of social justice and community engagement.
“We are demystifying the practice of Judges sitting in their chambers. So, apart from issuing judgements, do the judges interact with the communities? This will not remove your independence,” he stated.
“The EACJ delegation has been in Uganda 26th October 2022. We are integrating the community. We are using facilities of our colleagues in Uganda, their boardrooms and chambers. The staff from EACJ are here, we have visited places and we are dealing with cases. We are focused on ensuring human dignity in the chambers,” he said.
Giving a vote of thanks, Prof. Anthony Mugagga Muwagga, Principal of Makerere University College of Education and External Studies (Mak CEES) appreciated the delegation coming up with the idea of engaging the academia in promoting justice and the rule of law.
After an informative engagement with the University Management, the Vice Chancellor led the delegation to exhibition stalls where university staff and students showcased research outputs and innovations under the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (MakRIF).
The delegation toured Makerere University Library with particular interest in the Law Section. The University Librarian, Dr. Helen Byamugisha highlighted the central role of the University Library in teaching, learning and research.
The delegation then moved to Makerere University School of Law to interact with the leadership, staff and students. The Ag. Principal-School of Law, Dr. Ronald Naluwairo received the delegation accompanied by the Ag. Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration), Prof. Henry Alinaitwe.
Commenting on the visit of the delegation from the East African Court of Justice to Makerere University, Dr. Zahara Nampewo, the Ag. Deputy Principal of the School of Law who moderated the proceedings at the several places that the delegation visited said: “The interaction with the different stakeholders at Makerere University reminds us that we all have a cardinal duty to promote the rule of law.”
List of research and innovations showcased by Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF) at the exhibition:
Further Reporting by the School of Law: High Level Delegation from East African Court of Justice visit Mak School of Law
Law Students Advised to Make the Right Choices and Work Hard
The Makerere University School of Law (SoL) held the Orientation Meeting for its First Year Students, Academic Year 2022/2023 on the 20th October 2022; Ms. Sarah Langa Siu, Chief Registrar – Courts of Judicature was the Guest of Honour.
Ms. Langa welcomed the freshers to the prestigious and honourable profession. She advised the students to make the right choices and work hard for the best grades during their time at University. ‘Campus is a buffet with a lot to offer, make the best choices. Remember every choice has a consequence and your choice today will impact your tomorrow’, she said. She highlighted a number of dos and donts which the students should take note of.Some of the points mentioned were: good role models and mentors; avoiding free things; minding the dress code and indecent dressing; quick money and deals, students using fees as capital; positive brand of self; vision and value addition.
The Chief Registrar added that ‘there is a long life ahead of you and don’t act like the world is ending, that everything has to be enjoyed within the 4 years of university’. Quoting the Bible Ecclesiastes 11:9, Ms. Langa told the students to enjoy their youth but to remember that God will judge them. She implored the students to work hard, be patient, be resilient and have a positive attitude, ‘the major reason you are at Makerere is to study and make sure you leave with a good degree class not a pass’ she said.
Staff welcomed the students to the SoL and gave them tips on how to use their time while at University.
In his remarks, Dr. Ronald Naluwairo (Associate Professor), Deputy Principal –SoL welcomed the students to Makerere University and the School of Law. He also conveyed a warm welcome from the Principal, Professor Christopher Mbazira who is away on official leave.
Dr. Naluwairo congratulated the students on joining a top law school in the country and region, he advised that the best teachers and resources are available and there is no reason for them to fail. ‘If you want the best results, don’t relax, concentrate on your studies and consult faculty and administration when you have challenges. We are here to ensure that you succeed’ he added. The Deputy Principal reminded the students that SoL and Makerere University have a zero tolerance policy to sexual harassment as well as examination malpractice and irregularities. ‘We wish you the best as you embark on this journey’ he said.
Mr. Ernest Kalibbala, Lecturer – SoL also welcomed the students to the School and Makerere University. ‘You are the cream de la cream; the cream rises to the top, doesn’t sink to the bottom. Grades are important in determining your professional journey, therefore study hard and start now’, he told the students. Mr. Kalibbala further advised the students that you may feel overwhelmed at times but keep focused, be agile and work hard for the best results.
Dr. Kakungulu Mayambala (Associate Professor) also welcomed the students to SoL. ‘Set aside time for self-study, at least 4hours per day. Avoid the following problem areas: early marriages, alcoholism, late night movements, political activism, excessive prayer activities. Find a balance, otherwise your studies will be affected’ Dr. Kakungulu Mayambala advised the students.
Administrative staff spoke to the students highlighting the services available and where to access assistance. Mr. Abigaba Vincent, College Registrar – SoL and Ms. Hellen Mirembe, Examination Officer – SoL explained to the students the registration and examinationsprocesses. Both officers advised the students to read the joining instructions booklet carefully and to avoid circumstances that may lead to suspension or expulsion from university such as examination malpractice to which others have been culprits.
Ms. Caroline Abilat and Ms. Evelyn Harona represented the Directorate of Gender Mainstreaming and Department of Guidance and Counselling respectively. Ms. Abilat talked to the students about the University Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy and the scholarships available. Ms. Harona advised the students to take care of their mental health and to seek help when they experience challenges.
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