International Humanist and Ethical Union
UN Human Rights Council, 34the Session (27th February – 31st March 2017)
Universal Periodic Review: Uganda
We were disappointed to read of Uganda’s rejection of state recommendations that it amend the Public Order Management Act (2013) and Non-Governmental Organizations Act (2016) to ensure free assembly and association in line with international human rights standards.
The experience of our Ugandan member – Ugandan Humanist Association for Leadership Equality and Accountability (HALEA) – tells of a climate often hostile to NGOs: this includes an attack on one of its personnel and an arson attack on the home of its director, all apparently in connection with the rising profile and human rights work of this Humanist organization.
Same-sex conduct remains criminalized, and discrimination against LGBTI people widespread. The subsequently annulled Anti-Homosexuality Act was defended from protestations about the democratic will (which, one might assume underscores Uganda’s reasoning for rejecting UPR recommendations in this area). However, it should be noted democratic decisions are normatively subservient to the requirements necessitated by universally applied human rights. The role of anti-gay US evangelical conservatives seeking a “cultural colonisation” of Africa has also played a dominant role. So too in their attacks on abortion and sexual and reproductive health and rights, despite maternal mortality being the leading cause of death among women of childbearing age in Uganda. Accordingly, we were deeply disappointed to see Uganda’s rejection of recommendations specifically relating to access to abortion.
Finally, whilst we welcome Uganda’s acceptance of recommendations around the need to take concrete measures to eradicate traditional harmful practices, we would like to take this opportunity to remind the Council of the gravity of just one of the practices involved: child sacrifice – most often carried out by witch doctors for a fee. HumaneAfrica has uncovered “weekly mutilations confirmed with witness accounts.” We urge Uganda to improve law enforcement, the quality of education, and to establish clear principles and priorities for the elimination of child sacrifice and ritual murder, including implementation of its legislation abolishing child sacrifices.
'UPR statement on Uganda', Humanists International