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Women Rights Activists Reiterate Call for Human Rights Defenders Law :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Women Rights Activists Reiterate Call for Human Rights Defenders Law

Dorothy Esther Kiyai, the acting programs manager, says a law is needed to guide on who a human rights defender is as well as define the roles and responsibilities of all key stakeholders including individuals, civil society organisations, and the state involved in the human rights defense.
29 Nov 2023 15:25
The activists in a group photo

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Women rights activist have reiterated their call to the government to enact the human rights defenders law to streamline their operations. The women organized under the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders- NCHRD made the appeal Wednesday as they marked the day for women rights defenders at the residence of the Liberian Ambassador to Uganda Dr. Thelma Awori. 

The day was marked under the theme " She defenders, recognising the resistance, achievements, and empowerment of women who champion human rights".Dorothy Esther Kiyai, the acting programs manager, says a law is needed to guide on who a human rights defender is as well as define the roles and responsibilities of all key stakeholders including individuals, civil society organisations, and the state involved in the human rights defense.

Currently, organisations like NCHRD derive their main mandate from article 38 of the 1995 Constitution which provides for civic rights and activities. There are other laws that Kiyai thinks are scattered and should be consolidated to provide a clear framework for the operations of human rights defenders in Uganda.

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The Human Rights Defenders Bill was first read before parliament in 2022 but has never been pursued to a conclusion. Kiyai says that with a clear law in place, different stakeholders shall easily be held accountable for their responsibilities as stipulated in the law. 

She says the women's rights defenders face numerous challenges and yet receive less support from the state, even when it comes to investigating and disposing of cases where the rights of women's rights defenders have been violated.

Another women rights activist, Winfred Mugambe says that women rights activists face a double threat in society, one as women in a patriarchal society and then as women advocating for a change in the way women and girls are treated in society. 

Mugambe cited cases of gender-based threats, sexual-based violence, stigmatisation, social exclusion by some sections of the public, arbitrary arrests and detention, and defamation among others as challenges women rights activists still grapple with.

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Rashida Adong, the Head of the Women's Thematic Cluster in NCHRD Uganda says that there should be an alternative platform established by the government to promote engagements between the state and human rights defenders. 

Dr Thelma Awori, who hosted the women at her residence in Ntinda encouraged them to continue with the work they do if the world is to become a better place that serves justice to all. She expressed dismay at how the world tolerates injustices meted out to different people across the world. She says everyone should play their part in promoting human rights for women and girls and other beings at large.

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