UN Closes Human Rights Office in Uganda

By S Kwagala: The office United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Uganda as closed after refusal of government to renew its contract.

This office has been one of the major units responsible for promoting and protecting rights for all people found in international human rights laws and treaties.

In a statement released last week on Saturday, the Commissioner of Human Rights, Volker Turk expressed regret for the closure of 18 years of business in Uganda.

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This year, it was confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign affairs that the government had chosen not to renew the agency’s contract which was to expire in March 2023.

The reason for refusal to renew the contract was that Uganda had attained full capacity through the Uganda Human Rights Commission to protect and promote people’s rights.

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda noted that the continual presence of the OHCHR had created confusion among Ugandans who did not know `where to rightfully report their issues between the two co-existing entities.

Since 2005, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has addressed issues in conflict affected areas like Karamoja, until 2009 where its mandate was expanded to cover the entire country.

As part of Turk’s parting remarks, he raised concern over the coming national elections in 2026 saying that the environment has been remarkably increasingly hostile. That is in line with violation of human rights for defenders, civil society and journalists.

In addition, the office closes at a time where the 54 Non-Government Organizations that were arbitrarily suspended in August 2021 remain closed.

He mentioned to the government; “I urge the government of to provide the commission with adequate human, technical and financial resources so that it may more effectively execute its important mandate.”

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