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Chief Justice warns human rights commissioners against favoritism

Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo has advised the newly appointed Uganda Human Rights Commission-UHRC chairperson, Mariam Wangadya, to dispense justice to all Ugandans without favoritism.

Owiny-Dollo made the remarks on Wednesday evening while presiding over the swearing in of the newly appointed five members of the UHRC and one representative to the Judicial Service Commission, Jimmy Okello at the Judiciary headquarters in Kampala.

Those who have been sworn in as new members of the commission including their chairperson are Mariam Wangadya, Reverend Father Simon Lokodo, the former State Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Chrispin Kaheru, formerly of Citizen’s Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda-CCEDU, Shifra Lukwago, a former opposition politician and Jacklet Atuhaire, the former District Woman MP Sheema district.

The group was appointed last month by President Yoweri Museveni to occupy the said Constitutional offices in various capacities on a contract of four years which can be renewable only once.

During their swearing in ceremony, Owiny-Dollo challenged them to make decisions without fear or favour, saying this country belongs to all Ugandans who are supposed to find peace in it, when their rights provided in the constitution are protected by the human rights body.

He explained that the members need to treat all Ugandans who bring their complaints to them equally, the same way they would wish to be treated as individuals if at all they are the ones yearning for justice.

According to Owiny-Dollo, the Uganda Human Rights Commission’s decisions carry the  force of law and therefore once the decisions are made, they are supposed to be implemented and those who violate them should be brought to book.

On her part, the new chairperson Wangadya has pledged to protect the rights of Ugandans in line with their mandate, authoritatively and without fear for anything.

On a gloomy note, the secretary to UHRC Margaret Ejang, speaking to the media said that they currently have more than 1,000 unresolved cases which arose before and after the recent concluded elections.

She is optimistic however, that they will have the cases completed within six months with the help from their regional tribunals.

The functions of UHRC Commission include, investigating complaints made against violations of any human right, visiting jails, prisons and places of detention to assess conditions of inmates, recommending to parliament measures to promote human rights, monitoring the government’s compliance with international treaties and convention obligations on human rights among others.

The UHRC chairperson job fell vacant at the death of the former Chairperson Medi Kaggwa in November 2019, and since then, the Commission that is supposed to have seven commissioners has not been fully constituted.

The rest of the jobs had fallen vacant after expiration of contracts for the previous commissioners while others opted to join politics.

The swearing in of new members has come at the time when the opposition members of Parliament have vowed not to attend plenary sessions until their colleagues Muhammad Ssegirinya and Allan Ssewanyana who were recently  violently rearrested after release on bail have been  set free .

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