Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda Human Rights Commission-UHRC is battling a financial crisis. The commission which is mandated with promoting human rights in the country lacks funds to conduct investigations into human rights violations, carry out education on human rights and conduct staff training.
Dr. Patricia Achan, one of the commissioners says that they even lack funding to cater for salaries and allowances of staff to conduct key work like investigations of cases brought to their attention.
Although the commissioner could not tell the exact number of cases pending investigations, the 2018 report by the commission shows that they registered 4,926 complaints and 5,021 in 2017.
Dr. Achan made the revelation in their meeting with the newly appointed Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka in his chambers in Kampala. The two government agencies had come together to forge a better working relationship that will see human rights observance enhanced in the country.
The commission has a funding deficit of Shillings 2.79 billion since their contract with their biggest funder, the Democratic Governance Facility-DGF expired leaving them with the central government as the only source of funding.
Commissioner Meddie Mulumba says the gap in funding left by DGF has exacerbated an already unpleasant situation at the commission. He says they lack funds to finance their plans to extend services to regions and districts in different parts of the country.
He says that the commission employees are not well remunerated, which has increased the rate of staff turnover. He also disclosed that the commission has old cars with many having lived beyond five years on the road rendering them too old and unfit to serve the commission.
Mulumba further told the Attorney General that the commission’s tribunal is unable to sit because they lack a substantive chairperson. The commission has had an acting chairperson following the death of chairperson Meddie Kaggwa in 2019.
He asked the government to fill the vacant positions on time such that no commission work stalls due to pending appointments. In response, the Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka committed to offering the necessary advice to see that the commission is facilitated to execute its mandate.
Kiwanuka emphasized the need for the commission to carry out education in the public to popularize human rights and ensure respect for the same. Kiwanuka says it is better the public is made aware of their rights but also responsibilities and duties such that there shall be no or less need for a tribunal to resolve human rights conflicts.
Regarding late appointments, Kiwanuka advised the commission to write to the appointing authority on time alerting him of a contract due to expire at least six months prior such that necessary steps are taken to renew the contracts or appoint other people.