Promotion of human rights and fight against corruption NRM Government on steady progress

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Government is committed to fighting the vice of corruption and improving human rights in Uganda. One of the Government’s strategy is the observance of human rights and accountability among the JLOS institutions. The human right is considered internationally as a measure of good governance and rule of law. Government therefore through the sector continued to fulfil the international human rights instruments through embracing the human rights and accountability based approach and institutionalization of a human rights based culture in the JLOs institutions.


Under SDP IV, the sector to strengthen measures to reduce human rights violations by JLOS Institutions and empower citizens on human rights and obligations. During FY2017/18, the sector had projected to reduce human rights abuse by its institutions by 12%, however, by the end of FY, human rights abuse by JLOS institutions reduced by 16% due to greater awareness and emphasis to zero tolerance to torture in sector institutions.


In regard to stepping up interventions to reduce human rights abuse in JLOS and other security institutions, Government continued with creation of human rights committees within the institutions such as Police and Prisons. In FY2017/18, the number police stations with functional human rights committees were 21 against the projected 20 stations. In addition, Uganda Police Force handled to conclusion 70% of the reported domestic violence cases against the projected 60%. However, only 49% against the projected 75% of complaints against police officers were disposed of.


According to the Uganda Human Rights Commission, an institution that ensures protection and promotion of human rights, the proportion of human rights recommendations adopted by government was 46% against the projected 40%. However, only 29% of the targeted 675 human right cases were disposed of during the 2017/18 due to delayed appointments of Commissioners. The Human Rights report 2017 showed that alleged violation of the freedom from torture ranked highest among registered complaints at 33.4% (306 complaints) with the major human rights abusers being: Uganda Police Force – 419 complaints (55.7%), Private individuals - 210 complaints (27.9%), Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) -  44 complaints (5.8%), Uganda Prisons Service – 25complaints (3.3%) and Local Government -  11 complaints. In an effort to create human rights awareness, the Commission held 688 out of the targeted 600 human rights baraza meetings and also circulated 93% of the projected 25000 information, education and communication materials.


In regard to prisoners’ access to justice and effective case management as a human right, data shows that the average stay on remand for petty offenders was at 2.5 months against the projected 2 months and 19.8 months for capital offenders against projected 18 months.  UPS continued to provide 100% of basic necessities of life to prisons as a means of observing human rights in prisons e.g. elimination of bucket system in prisons, dressing all prisoners in uniform and feeding of 53,033 prisoners on a daily average.


Besides enhancing human rights observance, Government continued to promote accountability following the introduction of anti-corruption strategy. Last year alone, the disposal rate of corruption cases was 52.4% against the projected 48.7%.


Still On Corruption, many legal frameworks have been put into effect by Government. The Penal Code provides instruments to deal with various corruption offenses including embezzlement, causing financial loss, abuse of Office and fraud.


The leadership Act criminalises attempted corruption, active and passive bribery, extortion, bribing of foreign public officials, abuse of office, private sector bribery is covered under the Anti-Corruption Act.


The code of conduct and ethics for Uganda Public Services lists standards of behaviour for public officials. Under the code, bribery is defined as any gratification with a value equal to or more that UGX 20,000 given to public officials by anyone with intention to influence any current or future decisions.


The Leadership code Act requires that a gift or donation to a leader must be declared to the IGG if it exceeds five currency points in value. The Leadership Code Act 2016 which has not been signed into law yet is intended to increase enforcement of the Act.


The Public Finance Management Act establishes a single treasury account to make public expenditure more transparent and reduce the vulnerability to graft among other measures.


The whistle blowers protection ACT seeks to protect whistle blowers and provides monetary rewards in return for reporting. Other laws include: - Anti-corruption Act, The Inspectorate of Government Act, PPDA Act all compose the core of Uganda’s legal framework against corruption.


As a result of the above laws:-


During July to December 2017, the IG registered 1,300 complaints on corruption and maladministration. Of these 633 were registered at the head office and 766 at the regional offices across the country. A total of 947 complaints were investigated and concluded while 4,817 investigations are ongoing. Arising from the investigations, more than UGX 15 billion was saved (especially from court fines, awards and orders). Recoveries were also made from officials in the MDAs and local governments (due to administrative sanctions) amounting to UGX 267,192,558/= and deposited to the IG Asset recovery account in the Bank of Uganda. A total of 14 cases of grand and syndicated corruption were completed involving 20 high ranking public officials who were arrested and are being prosecuted.


IG prosecuted 105 corruption officials out of which 15 cases were concluded. Ninety five (95) cases are ongoing (58 on the first hearing and 37 on appeal).  These prosecutions resulted into 11 convictions (IG conviction rate stands 73.3%), two acquittals, one withdrawal and two dismissed. Under civil litigation, seven judicial review cases were concluded and all the judgements were in favour of the IG.


During the period, the 2nd phase of the inspectorate of government online declaration system (IG-ODS) commenced and mechanisms for availing the previous declarations as a baseline/benchmark for subsequent declarations were created. The system searching, filtering, sorting functions and security components have also been improved. The IG concluded verification of declarations of 10 (15%) leaders and 102 verifications are ongoing at various stages.


The IG supported 14 (70%) partnerships/institutions which involved Faith based organisations (FBOs) and integrity clubs in tertiary institutions to create public awareness on the evils of corruption and enlist public support in the fight against corruption.


IG also intensified sensitization of the public about various government projects, their goals, expected benefits and implementation strategy in order to maximise value for money. Ten sensitization sessions for district leaders and other members of the community in the NUSAF 3 project areas were conducted. Nine (9) collaboration networks to enhance the fight against corruption were also established. The prevention of corruption activities increased by 42% compared to the previous reporting time.


As an ombudsman office, the IG forms a bridge between government and the citizens who expect services form the public office. A total of 354 ombudsman complaints were investigated and concluded (which is 15% less compared to the previous period) resulting into monetary commitments from government complaints to the tune of UGX 66, 693, 8980/=). Deliberate efforts have been made to support MDAs and local governments establish local complains handling mechanisms in order to revitalize and foster speedy and more effective grievance handling of citizen complaints across government institutions.


On the oversight role of ensuring transparency, accountability and anti-corruption (TAAC) in donor and government funded projects, the IG inspected 533 government projects mostly under discretionary development equalisation grant, Northern Uganda Social Action fund and youth livelihood program. In a bid to ensure transparency and accountability in the communities implementing NUSAF3, the IG further strengthened collaboration with the office of the Prime Minister (OPM) for the training of NUSAF3 sub project. Communities were also engaged to promote citizens responsibility to enhance transparency and accountability and thirty (30) CSOs partnered with the IG to implement community responsibility to enhance transparency and accountability (CRETA) in 59 districts of NUSAF 3 areas


Government also established the Anti-Corruption Division in 2008 with jurisdiction over corruption and related cases. The main rationale for its establishment was the speedy resolution of corruption cases for that measure the Anti-corruption Division has been successful. This creation is a manifestation of the political will on the side of NRM Government to fight corruption.