"Being democratic is not enough, a majority cannot turn what is wrong into right. In order to be considered truly free, countries must also have a deep love of liberty and an abiding respect for the rule of law." - Margaret Thatcher.
As Uganda Law Society, we believe that sustainable social, political and economic progress can only exist in economies where the Rule of Law exists. It is on this premise that I am honored to present to you this edition of the Uganda Law Society (ULS) Quarterly Report on the state of the Rule of Law, focusing on the period of October – December 2020.
My sincere gratitude goes to the Rule of Law Advisory Panel chaired by Prof. Fredrick Ssempebwa for their continued invaluable support to the Secretariat team during the compilation of this report. I would also like to acknowledge the input of the Rule of Law Strategic and Litigation Committee as well as the Research and Publications Committee for their efforts in the compilation of this report.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore several underlying human rights violations including the election violence, crimes against children as well as the most vulnerable of society. Our society has witnessed a sharp decline in the efforts put by Government to protect and preserve the rights of victims. This has seen an increase in the watering down of the rule of law efforts. We take cognizance of the occurrence of recent riots that led to numerous losses of lives and property, with many left gravely injured. As we continue grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, special attention must be drawn to the fact that our Human Rights Commission still has no substantive Chairperson, an issue that has created a major leadership gap and lacuna, in regards to the fight to enforce and promote human rights.
We have recorded several Infringements on various constitutional freedoms including the freedom of expression and association freedom of movement and the right to a clean and healthy environment Moreover, we also continue to witness and record Uganda Police Force’s continued violation of the 48 hour rule guaranteed by the Constitution. In addition to this, the climate of legality remains wanting as there is has been a disproportionate use of force when it came to enforcing COVID-19 restrictions during the Election Period, an issue that has tainted the image of the Executive as well as the Electoral Commission.
This Quarter’s report provides a critical analysis and evaluation of the rule of law events and incidents that have transpired during the review period of October- December 2020. We call upon both state and non-state actors to ensure that they adopt a more proactive approach in dealing with the human rights and rule of law challenges in the Country.
The Uganda Law Society remains committed to the promotion and upholding of the Rule of Law as Objective 3 of the ULS Strategic Plan (2017-2021).
In this regard therefore and on behalf of the ULS membership, I wish to urge all the relevant stakeholders to pay critical and deliberate attention to the recommendations made in this report and ensure that we adopt a Faithful, Available and Teachable (F.A.T) approach towards the necessary adjustments to enable us to uphold the rule of law in Uganda at all times.
For God and My Country
PHEONA N. WALL
President- Uganda Law Society