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Rights defenders advised on synergies to avoid persecution

FILE PHOTO: Human rights defenders

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  | Human rights defenders have been urged to form coalitions under which they can operate ahead of the 2021 elections.

Robert Kotchani the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights says that Human Rights Defenders need a united front as the country gets closer to the heated campaign period, which is often characterized by human rights abuses and violations.

“Human rights defenders, civil society and government all need to work together through dialogue to create a conducive environment where they can all operate for the good of the people. The government needs human rights defenders, the same way human rights defenders need the government to function,” Kotchani said.

He was speaking during a dialogue organized in commemoration of the International Human Rights Defenders Day at Hotel Africana in Kampala, yesterday. The event was marked under the theme,” Stand up for human rights: situating synergies towards the protection of human rights”.

Lawyer Nicholas Opio equally observed the importance for human rights defenders to work with government because it makes the laws in the space within which they operate. He, however, cautions the leadership of formed coalition groups not to fight the groups they are supposed to protect.

“We need coalitions, but so many times we see coalitions fighting for the same funding that the human rights defenders need. You find them wanting to take the little that is available. This is not right. It defeats the purpose for the creation of the groups,” Opio cautioned.

Hassan Shire, the Director of African Defenders says that in addition to forming coalitions, human rights groups need to stop lamenting about shrinking spaces and put effort into stopping the closure of CSOs globally.

Dr John Kamya, the commandant in charge of the Police Training College in Bwebajja, says that police is ready to work with human rights defenders and offer support as they carry out their duties.

The Uganda Police has been named as one of the biggest violators of human rights in the country accounting for more than 20 per cent of reported cases.

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