The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) has said the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic and its effects like the lockdown have made matters worse in regards to the observation of human rights in the country.
Addressing journalists on Monday, on behalf of the UHRC chairperson, Meddie Mulumba, a commissioner said because of the urge to adhere to the Covid-induced lockdown, several human rights have been violated.
“The exorbitant cost of Covid-19 patients is something to be concerned with in regards observance of human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 provides for health as a critical component to the right to an adequate standard living. The commission is however concerned about reports of exorbitant costs of admission and treatment of Covid patients in private hospitals in the country,” Mulumba said.
He noted that many desperate families have had to sell their property including land, getting loans, or depositing their land titles with hospitals so as to be able to fund the exorbitant bills for their Covid patients.
“Now that this Covid treatment is exorbitant, it violates the right to access to health services whereas the right to life has also been violated where patients died as a result of their inability to access timely care due to financial constraints,” Mulumba said.
According to the UHRC commissioner, the unsafe working conditions for health workers are also a concern in regards to their rights.
He noted that the death of 100 health workers since last year partly due to lack of personal protective equipment violates the rights to a safe working environment for the frontline workers.
Limited access to justice
The Chief Justice recently directed that courts and judiciary offices operate at only 10% capacity but according to the Uganda Human Rights Commission, the move has since limited access to justice.
“Consequently, court users are suffering limitations in accessing services particularly bail applications which are not heard and suspects are only appearing in court to take plea. There is also an increase in cases of detention beyond 48 hours due to the limitation on the number of judicial officers present at courts,” UHRC said.
According to the government body mandated to monitor and advance human rights in Uganda, the ban on public and private transport has also made matters worse for people to move to various police stations to secure for their loved ones.
“The commission has also noted reports of isolated incidents of highhandedness by some security personnel enforcing Covid guidelines and SOPs. We have received allegations of security agents demanding bribes from motorists at checkpoints,” Meddie Mulumba said.
He also cited increased cases of domestic violence that he said are a violation of human rights of Ugandans which he said has been made worse by failure to access justice by victims.