How human rights have affected public policy in Uganda. By Gad A. Kisaalu
Human rights in Uganda have taken center stage with several civil society organisations taking on the government for a wide spectrum of rights violation as adopted from public policy. Public policy in the circumstance has been applied individual of the fact that it serves to protect human rights and it should proportionally be applied to avoid imposing of the government programs on the community.
This blog article highlights the application of human rights in the adoption, formulation and implementation of public policy in Uganda where, for each government desired action, a policy has been formulated notwithstanding the implications it might have on the people. Below illustrates how human rights have affected public policy in Uganda;
The policy and the law on public gatherings in Uganda was formulated and passed in 2019. The policy was such that notice was to be given to the police of any prior public gathering and meeting set forth and the police was to take on a super-visionary role of any such kind.
Even though the policy helped regulate public gatherings and demonstrations, it failed on its implementation as the police completely prohibited public gatherings, meetings and demonstrations contrary to the policy and in violations of human rights. The Courts of law however have since decided that according to Constitution of Uganda, the policy and law was against the right to peaceful demonstration and the law was nulled and policy negated.
Similarly, the same Court cancelled a Police policy which gave a police officer powers to use such force as is reasonably necessary for overcoming a resistant public gathering or rally and couldn’t face any criminal or civil charges for causing harm or death to any person. This policy and law was challenged for it permitted torture and injure without retribution whatsoever to members of the public and it was cancelled for being in violation of the Constitution of Uganda.
The policy on gender and women emancipation is a phenomenon of the current regime. As such, there have been some measures in formulation and implementation of the gender policy in Uganda, however; the violation of women rights remains a challenge specifically among others, woman property rights.
The current policy with regards to property rights is faced with a number of human rights limitations. Because of this, the 10th Parliament is faced with the Marriage and Divorce Bill which addresses some of the gaps in the current gender policy with regards equality and respect of human gender rights, an aspect the policy drafters and implementers ignored.
The policy of land acquisition in Uganda prior its cancellation, gave the government liberty to possess and to compulsory acquire land before payment of compensation. However, it was held that the power of government to compulsory acquire land should have been exercised humanely and in compliance with the will of the people and Constitution.
In addition, the Court in 2013 made a declaration outlawing the Land Acquisition Act that implemented the policy because it violated the right of a person to property as expressed in the Constitution.
Important to note is that human rights compliant application on public policy is subject to thorough scrutiny and should be considered in public policy processes and implementation. The above cases are a clear example of when public policy is restricted of human rights application in policy processes. Policy advocates and analyst therefore have a dual responsibility to adopt human rights thinking in the adoption and formulation of public policy in Uganda. Policies that have proportionately applied human rights principles in their formulation have not been affected whatsoever.