Emotions At OHCR Farewell Party

Net picture of closed Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights -Uganda

Various human rights activists and people from the international community in Uganda especially those from the European Union, were emotional as the office of the united nations high commissioner for human rights-OHCR was officially biding farewell to them.

At an event at Ndere cultural center in Kampala on Monday evening, various dignitaries and human rights defenders, expressed discontentment over the government’s refusal to renew the mandate of this office, which would have extended it’s operations tenure in the country. 

OHCHR,  has been resident in Uganda for the last 18 years, and currently it is winding up operations in the country, amidst discontentment from various human rights activists and foreign mission heads, with discontentment over the government’s refusal to renew this body’s mandate which could have extended it’s operations tenure in the country.

The establishment of this office, in Uganda, was mainly to handle human rights violation atrocities in the war ravaged areas of the north and north eastern parts of the country, but its mandate has always been periodically extended until when the  government refused to extend it any more.

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Ruth Ssekindi, the director for monitory aznd legal services, on behalf of the Uganda Human Rights Commission-said that it a trying moment to see colleagues who had turned into family, leaving indefinitely.

“You have not only been partners and colleagues, but you had become family and very close family. We are grateful for you contribution, professionalism and colleagueality over the years. We will surely miss you a a lot, and for me it’s a see you later, am sure we will cross the tough paths together again, after all we are working the human rights field together. But please don’t forget us when you find the luck.” Ssekindi said.

For Maria Hakanssan the Swedish ambassador to Uganda, on behalf of other heads of EU missions in Uganda,and other development partners, says that Sweden’s partnership with the OHCHR in any part of the world, is a critical contribution to promotion human rights, and it’s shifting for the country will undermine the achievements that had been attained along this line.

Since the office was opened, the government, the UHRC and the civil society, have benefited from OHCHR training and capacity building programs, the office has been able to reduce impunity against human rights violations, secure releases of arbitrary detained people in thousand and sustaining this will be a critical task for UHRC as the OHCHR leaves the country.” 

According to Hakanssan, Uganda would have continued to benefit from the OHCHR, in human rights protection and meeting international standards, and ensuring a fair, democratic economic development of the country.

Grace pelly the OHCHR Uganda deputy country representative, said that in the 18 years, the UN human rights body, has done a lot of work on laws and policies and supporting the government report on its human rights obligations.

“We have helped Uganda to be the first country to  intergrate the human rights agenda into its national development goals, we have closely worked with UHRC in the Karamoja region, and we wish that we could continue working with you, and we know that you will take it over.” Pelly said.

However, Elly Kamhungye Kafeero, the director of regional and international economic affairs in the ministry of foreign affairs, as he  represented the minister of foreign affairs, at the ceremony, said that Uganda will continue working with OHCHR through its embassy in Geneva Switzerland.

According to Kafeero, OHCHR was allowed is Uganda to primarily hand the human rights violations in the war tone areas of north and northeastern parts of the country which have since become peaceful.

Kafeero adds that for the last 18 years, OHCHR, has trained and equiped the UHRC with the necessary skills and knowledge to handle human rights issues, and it’s the organ which the government will facilitate the more to make sure that human rights are up held in the country.

Filed by D Kasule

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