As it is HRAPF custom yearly, HRAPF held her unprecedented annual staff retreat early this year to kick start the working year 2021. Unlike recent retreats, where we would go out of town to unwind and plan away from the hustle and bustle of town, we had our 2021 staff retreat at our new home, The HRAPF house.

The retreat was an opportunity to step away from day-to-day work to celebrate our past year’s success, reflect on working relationships, reorient staff on HRAPF culture, goals, and objectives as well as gather staff input on ways to improve our organization.

The main facilitator during the retreat was Dr. Adrian Jjuuko the Executive Director of HRAPF. He was supported by members of the executive team who shared updates on the progress of the various projects and programme areas like Access to Justice, Research and Advocacy, Community Capacity Enhancement, and Institutional development.

Day One of the retreat featured a reflection and review session on HRAPF’s vision, mission, values, culture, and history. The various units/departments also shared their previous year’s achievements. 

One of the major highlights of Day Two was the inspirational talk on the art of getting things done and acceptable conduct by supervisors that was led by Dr. Jjuuko. He shared how to be productive by using the Stephen Covey Time quadrant, the importance of cultivating a healthy supervisor-supervisee relationship in the workplace and also facilitated a personality exercise where all staff members took part in a personality poll to discover their strengths. He emphasized the importance of concentrating on one’s strengths and building on them rather than concentrating on one’s weaknesses. The day was concluded by the Finance, Human Resource, and Security unit heads whose sessions were aimed at reacquainting staff with the organizational policies and procedures.  

Day Three was aimed at discussing the HRAPF’s institutional work plan and Budget. During these sessions, various programmes got together to design their annual work plans and budgets for 2021. To foster team building and cohesion, staff participated in team-building activities like dancing, peer introductions and personality strength tests which were a great opportunity to learn from, and about, one another.  The day ended on a high note with a group dance to the popular “Kachumbali song”

The retreat was concluded by the Executive Director, Dr. Adrian Jjuuko who answered any queries from staff. He also appreciated all the staff for their contributions to the HRAPF mission and vision and urged them to incorporate their learnings from the retreat into the new work year.

Despite being scientific, the retreat was a resounding success that provided an opportunity for staff to learn from and about one another, for management to address pertinent managerial and administrative issues as well as clarify the HRAPF culture, mission, and vision.

Taking Human Rights to All

Dear all,
 
Hope you are enjoying the holidays so far. We have not been able to fully close our offices for the end of year as the political and human rights situation continues to worsen, and as such HRAPF remains open to handle emergency matters. Today, we just returned from the Anti Corruption Court where our colleague Nicholas Opiyo was granted bail. He is charged with money laundering seemingly because the organisation he heads - Chapter 4 Uganda received money on its account from a foreign donor! The charge is that strange, but very worrying, as was the manner of his arrest. Also a link has been made between his arrest and his work on LGBT rights. We are also handling a case of murder - where a father, uncle and brothers yesterday murdered their own son accusing him of being gay and thus embarrassing them. Violence from both state and non state actors continues.
 
Amidst all these, we have received a ruling from the High Court dated 21st December 2020, where the State's Application to have the decision in the earlier case that we won  on behalf of the COSF-19 set aside on grounds that the state was prevented by valid reasons from appearing and defending the matter. Thus the declaration that the denial of the COSF-19 from accessing their lawyers was a violation of the right to liberty and the right to a fair hearing as well as the award of Uganda shillings 5 million to each of the 19 remain standing.
 
The state had filed Miscellaneous application No. 482 of 2020, Attorney General v Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) and Commissioner General of Prisons seeking to set aside the High Court's decision in Miscellaneous Cause No. 81 of 2020. The main issue was that the state was unable to appear to defend the matter due to COVID-19 transport restrictions, and that judgment can be passed against the government in its absence.
 
The Court concluded that the state was well served with court process, and they had no justifiable reason not to come to court. That the Attorney General had been coming to court in many different matters at the time and so there was no real reason to prevent them from coming for this one. Also transport restrictions had been lifted by the time the case came up, and that counsel had simply arrived late after hearing had been concluded. The fact that they filed the application more than 80 days after the judgment showed that they filed the application as an afterthought.
 
The Court also made an important finding on the new Human Rights Enforcement Act, 2019. It applied section 6(5) of the Act to dismiss the assertion by the state that we had filed our affidavit in reply out of time. The section reads as follows:
'No suit instituted under this Act shall be rejected or otherwise dismissed by the competent court merely for failure to comply with any procedure, form or on any technicality.'
This is perhaps the first time courts are ruling on this provision, and it will go a long way in removing procedural obstacles from the way of substantive justice.
 
Another important finding was on rules made under the Government Proceedings Act, which treated the government as a special litigant. In this case, Rule 6 of the Government Proceedings (Civil Procedure) Rules required that no Judgment shall be entered against the government in default of appearance or pleading without leave of the court, and 7 days notice had to be given. The Court stated that the government was a litigant like any other under the Constitution and so no special rules apply:
'I find that that leave and notice is not mandatory before a default judgment can be entered against Government. Under Order 9 of the Civil Procedure Rules, no such leave or notice are required for ordinary parties. The same should hold true for the Government.'
 
The application was thus dismissed with costs as against the government. Our victory is thus well protected this far, and the precedents set in that case still do hold. We can now pursue the realisation of the compensation for the COSF-19 and also justice in the cases that we filed challenging the torture, and inhuman and degrading treatment meted out against the 19.
 
Thank you all, and all of us at HRAPF wish you a  Happy New Year.
 
 
 
Dr.Adrian Jjuuko
Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF)
HRAPF House, Plot 1 Nsubuga Road, Off Ntinda-Kiwatule Road, Ntinda, Kampala
Po Box 25603, Kampala - Uganda
Tel: +256-414-530683/ +256-312-530683/ 0800130683 (Toll Free)
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.hrapf.org
 

As Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate the International Human Rights day under the theme; 'Recover better, stand up for human rights',  HRAPF issued a Press Statement in the Daily Monitor entitled; "THE NEED TO PROTECT THE MOST VULNERABLE AND MOST MARGINALISED DURING THE COVID-19 RECOVERY PROCESS'. The Executive Director, Dr. Adrian Jjuuko also held a media interview and the extract can be found through the link below:

 HRAPF's Statement on the International Human Rights day, 2020