Following the 2011 elections, WFD responded to a demand by the Ugandan parliament and supported the establishment of a standalone Human Rights Committee. The Human Rights Committee is mandated to ensure human rights compliance of all legislation passed in Parliament. It is also mandated to consider reports submitted to Parliament by the Ugandan Human Rights Commission (UHRC) and make recommendations for discussion on the floor of the house. All bills are now scrutinised from a human rights perspective and the committee has created more awareness of and debate around human rights issues in the Parliament. The three‐year backlog of UHRC reports has now been cleared.
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Key elements of context
- Uganda has a Constitutional Bill of Rights, is part of the East African Community Bill of Rights and is party to numerous African Union and United Nations Human Rights Conventions. However due to lack of capacity, legislation is often introduced into Parliament and often passed without proper scrutiny for compliance against human rights standards or norms.
- The Legal and Parliamentary Procedures (LPP) Committee which had been assigned the duty of ensuring bills were human rights complaint, was overworked with its other mandated tasks, and did not always give human rights issues the attention they deserved.
- The Ugandan Human Rights Commission UHRC reports were never properly scrutinised ‐ to the Commission's frustration.
- A 79% majority executive limits parliament’s effectiveness in providing oversight.
- The high levels of human rights abuses in the country, highlighted by the media and CSOs, did not gain Parliament's immediate attention. This was due in part to the lack of a select committee with a clear mandate of drawing such matters to the Speaker's attention. This also stemmed from a lack of capacity within parliament.
- Several human rights bills currently before parliament, including the public order management bill, the anti‐homosexuality bill, and the prevention of HIV bill require dedicated analysis by parliament before they are passed into law.