All Anti- Human rights legislation fuels repression and abuse
By Melanie Nathan, October 16, 2014.
Recently at a forum held by SFALI, The San Francisco Africa Leadership Institute, a Ugandan Member of Parliament, Hon. Nabilah Naggayi Sempala, stressed to the American audience, how important it is for LGBTI and other human rights defenders to address human rights in an holistic way – where all human rights must be looked at together, and not in isolation. Here is an Amnesty International report looking at 3 repressive pieces of legislation, impacting human rights in Uganda.
Report by Amnesty International:
Repressive and discriminatory legislation enacted over the last 18 months in Uganda has led to increasing state repression, violence and homophobic and gender-based discrimination, according to a new report published by Amnesty International today.
This report is based on research conducted by Amnesty International in Uganda in March, April and August 2014. Part of the field research was carried out in conjunction with Human Rights Watch.
Amnesty International carried out one-on-one interviews with 42 affected individuals and held group discussions with an additional 57 individuals comprising of staff and representatives of 30 civil society organizations. Interviews took place in Kampala, Entebbe and Mbarara.
“Rule by Law” – Discriminatory Legislation and Legitimized Abuses in Uganda, launching today in Uganda’s capital city Kampala, details how three pieces of legislation have violated fundamental human rights, fueled discriminatory abuses and left individuals unable to seek justice.
“Repression in Uganda is increasingly state sanctioned through the use of blatantly discriminatory legislation that erodes rights guaranteed in the country’s Constitution,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa.
“The government must act now to revise these toxic laws, which threaten the core of human rights in Uganda.”
Amnesty International’s report documents the cumulative human rights impact of the Public Order Management Act, the Anti-Pornography Act and the now nullified Anti-Homosexuality Act. These Acts were passed by Uganda’s Parliament and signed into law between August 2013 and February 2014.
While the Anti-Homosexuality Act was in force people who identified as – or were perceived to be – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) were arbitrarily arrested, including when reporting crimes against them. Some were beaten and groped by police and other detainees in custody.
In the days after the Anti-Pornography Act was signed, women were harassed by the police, and one lawyer was threatened with arrest because of her clothing.
The Anti-Homosexuality Act also led to LGBTI people being evicted from their homes and losing their jobs.
LGBTI people and women were subject to mob attacks in the streets while the Anti-Homosexuality Act was in force and immediately after the Anti-Pornography Act was signed.
“The vague wording of these laws has caused them to be interpreted by the public in a dangerous way. Many have taken the law into their own hands through mob justice and abuses against women and LGBTI people,” said Sarah Jackson.
“The government’s failure to properly clarify the laws makes it complicit in the abuses taking place.”
After several women deemed to be “dressed indecently” were stripped in the street in mob attacks, the police publicly stated that the Anti-Pornography Act did not give the public “authority to undress women”. However, authorities failed to issue a statement in response to homophobic attacks.
The government committed to reviewing the Anti-Pornography Act, though eight months later the review is yet to take place.
Freedom of assembly and association
Impact on healthcare