Human Rights Defenders

This page is dedicated to stories arising from human rights defenders, activists and journalists at risk: it aims at providing platform for HRDs in Uganda in particular and East Africa in general who interface with threats on a regular basis and provide mechanisms/ platforms through which such activists would share their experiences and lessons.

Human rights defenders are a group of masses or individuals who speak out or defend another person’s/ people’s rights. The 1995 constitution of the republic of Uganda provides under Article 19 the duties of the citizen and Article 38 provides civic competences. The constitution under chapter 4 outlines and guarantees fundamental rights and freedoms. Uganda is also a signatory to a couple of international instruments that protect human rights. Notwithstanding apparent efforts to put in place institutions that underpin the undeniable quest of the Ugandans for a democratic reign that respects, promotes and defends the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizen as enshrined in the International Human Rights instruments which   Uganda has ratified or acceded to, the rights of human rights defenders have continued to be abused and violated.
Human rights defenders have for a long time experiencing resistance from especially government institutions. Many of them have fallen victim of the state machinery and high handedness. To this end, many have lost their lives, property, and business interest among others. On a number of occasions, HRDs silently suffer without any one coming to their rescue. Interventions by the UN under the UN declaration on the rights of human rights defenders came timely to protect HRDs. The challenge of dealing with the problems of Uganda has been particularly compounded by a legal framework that seeks to curtail the operating environment of human rights defenders. This legal framework has been described as draconian and archaic.

In Uganda, many organizations are working on issues of HRDs and seek to ensure that the rights of HRDs are better protected, fulfilled and respected.  Unwanted Witness seeks to thus provide such media related platforms to ensure that the voices of HRDs who are facing threats or are in danger, are amplified.