Sixteen countries have today urged Uganda to end violence against LGBTI persons and decriminalise consensual same sex relations between adults. This has happened in the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of Uganda in Geneva Switzerland.
Every after 4 years the United Nations Human Rights Council reviews human rights situations in its member states in a procedure known as the Universal Periodic Review. In this review each country submits a report on the progress of promoting human rights, which is assessed by other member state. The states ask questions and make recommendations for the improvement of human rights in the reviewed country. This year Uganda provided a report on the progress of implementing recommendations made during the first cycle of the UPR conducted in 2011. In the same spirit, civil society organisations provided alternative reports to the human rights council on the situation of human rights in Uganda. HRAPF working together with other 10 LGBTI organisations submitted a report on SOGIE to the Human Rights Council
The Hon. Sam Kutesa, Minister of Foreign Affairs at the UN headquarters has presented Uganda’s progress report. In his opening remarks, Hon. Kuteesa emphasised that Uganda had made progress in implementing the recommendations made in the previous review in 2011. Specially he noted the development of the National Plan of Action for Human Rights and the National Development Plan 2015-2019, which emphasises human rights, based approach to development. He further noted that Uganda had gone ahead to establish human rights directorates in the Judiciary, UPDF and the Uganda Police and has continuously recognised the independence of commissions like the Uganda Human Rights Commission and the Equal Opportunities Commission. He also noted that the passing of the Anti Torture Act 2013 is a commitment to domesticate the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture.
He continued that NGOs and CSO are doing a good job but must be accountable – so the NGO Act 2016 was passed and reflected 80% of issues raised by the NGOs-and will ensure that there is harmony among civil society groups and government. He noted that Uganda’s elections were held in a free and fair environment with an independent electoral commission.
Countries have made recommendations to Uganda on a number of issues. But first they have appreciated Uganda’s efforts to respect and observe human rights. They noted that Uganda’s policy on refugees is commendable considering a number of refugees it hosts. They appreciated the development of the Action Plan on Human Rights, enactment of the anti torture act and development of a five year national development plan that considers a human rights based approach. The most popular issues recommended on by countries were: Increasing the health budget, prohibition of torture, discrimination against women, girls and people with disabilities and albinism, the right to education, LGBTI rights, repealing of the Public Order Management Act and the NGO Act, sexual health and reproductive rights, reducing maternal mortality, increasing access to safe abortion, property rights, the death penalty, electoral reforms, child labour, domestic violence, civic space among others.
Sixteen countries have made recommendations to Uganda on LGBTI rights. These are: Canada, Columbia, Cyprus, France, Guatemala, Iceland, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Uruguay, Argentina, Austria and Brazil. In all their recommendations, decriminalisation of consensual same sex relations, repealing of the penal code provisions on carnal knowledge against the order of nature, investigating violence and ending discrimination against LGBTI persons, punishing perpetrators of violence and repealing the NGO Act came out more strongly. Most of these recommendations were in the UPR report that HRAPF together with other 10 LGBTI organisations authored and submitted to the UN and other missions. We thank these countries for the support and all the recommendations made. HRAPF shall follow the proceedings to obtain all recommendations that Uganda will have adopted and circulate them and also start a process of following their implementation until the next UPR.