Advocates call upon government to revise human rights laws

The UN Resident Coordinator in Uganda, Rosa Malango, has urged the government to review human rights laws following claims of rights violation during the Covid-19 lockdown.

She said the social well being of many vulnerable groups of people has been greatly affected ever since the outbreak of the pandemic therefore there is a need for the government to revisit the laws to promote equality.

The remarks were made during the United Nations e-Conference on Human Rights Gender Equality and Social Cohesion in Uganda.

The discussion was aired on NBS TV on Friday.

"We need to talk about the law. We know that several laws and bills are being reviewed, just as the budget is being reviewed right now. Can we do the same for the legal framework? Can we revisit the laws and make sure that they help to keep that balance?" she asked.

The chairperson of the Equal Opportunities Commission, Sylvia Ntambi Muwebwa, said inequalities are some of the major obstacles to the realisation of human rights.

"What brings inequality is the social gap. We have to close the gaps so that we fight this monster. If we are to equalize opportunities, we have to do everything under the law," she said.

She said there is a need to respect the laws and policies as adjustments are being made and information dissemination needs to encompass everyone.

The executive director, of the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, Bob Kirenga, said that issues of human rights abuse have been there and Covid-19 has just amplified them.

"When we went into the lockdown, they were given more attention. If the government had decided to use the human rights approach while setting up these guidelines, we wouldn’t be having human rights issues because we have seen people misinterpret the guidelines," he said.

Kirenga said there is a need to categorize these issues because some women are extremely marginalised.

The executive director of Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV/AIDS, Nicholas Niwagaba, said that the situation is worse for people that are living with HIV/AIDs because many of them failed to access medical care during the lowdown.

He noted that the pandemic has increased the suffering of people in our communities.

Rita Aciro, the executive director, The Uganda Women's Network (UWONET), said that the pandemic has also exposed that there are areas that were ignored were women in the market all of a sudden became the gold needed by the society.

"We have to learn and unlearn some of the social norms passed down to us. Women grow up knowing they are the lesser sex because that is what they have been taught. Not knowing how to cook does not make you less of a good wife," she said.

"There is a power within and collectivity. We are glad to have women in power, but they are not working as individuals, they need to support. Do the budgetary allocations support them?" she asked.

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