The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project congratulates Gerald Kankya, Program Coordinator of the Twerwaneho Listeners Club (TLC), on winning the inaugural European Union Human Rights Defender Award in Uganda. Mr Kankya was honoured at a reception at the Swedish ambassador’s residence on 2nd May in Kampala.
The European Union (EU) missions and delegation in Uganda established the award to raise awareness on the work of human rights defenders (HRDs). The award recognizes and honors the achievements of an individual human rights defender, active in Uganda, who has made an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights during the year 2011.
Three human rights defenders were shortlisted for the award, namely, Geoffrey Ssebagala of the Human Rights Network for Journalists, Stella Murungi of EHAHRDP and Gerald Kankya of TLC. On 2nd May 2012, Mr Kankya was declared winner of the award for his effort to promote human rights in the community. The achievements of LGBTI human rights defenders Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, Executive Director of Freedom and Roam Uganda who won the 2011 Martin Ennals Award, and Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda who won the 2011 Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award, were also recognized and honoured. SMUG also won the 2011 Rafto Prize.
Mr Kankya was honoured for his work with his colleagues at the Twerwaneho Listeners Club (TLC), which was conceived as a project to sensitize communities in the Rwenzori region about the relevance of freedom of speech and association and holding leaders accountable through open public debate. As TLC coordinator, Mr Kankya provides day-to-day leadership to the organization and plays an active role in its work. He organizes the TLC weekly radio programs, and is part of the team that organizes and conducts human rights training for human rights activists. As the team leader for TLC’s monitoring and documentation project, Mr Kankya is also in charge of advocacy and networking with other local, national and international human rights organizations.
The organization has played a vital role in enhancing the local population’s understanding of and ability to claim their rights. TLC’S key achievements include successfully coordinating a public campaign to have the poorly constructed Fort Portal-Kasese highway rebuilt. In 2011, following increased illegal evictions, corruption and destruction of property of the Tooro kingdom, TLC and the Tooro clan leaders’ council were granted an injunction to prevent kingdom officials from carrying out any administrative duty. A settlement was reached out of court, which saw the restoration of proper administrative systems in Tooro Kingdom.
Mr Kankya’s work has not been short of challenges, including but not limited to attacks on the radio stations hosting TLC’S programs, suspension of TLC’s shows, arrest and detention by the police. On 1st June, the next hearing will be heard in a case that involves one of TLC’s members, charged with criminal trespass and malicious damage to property. Serious concerns have been raised that the trial has been marred by political influence on the grounds of TLC’s human rights work.
EHARHDP applauds the work of the three nominees, Mr Ssebegala, Ms Murungi and Mr Kankya who despite the challenges faced have continued to be committed to the promotion of human rights. EHAHRDP continues to extend support to human rights defenders across the sub-region to strengthen their work by reducing their vulnerability to the risk of persecution and by enhancing their capacity to effectively defend human rights, and recognizes the continued efforts of the EU delegation and the diplomatic missions of EU member states and other countries to support HRDs in Uganda.
For more information, please contact:
Hassan Shire, Executive Director at [email protected] or +256 772 753 753
Rachel Nicholson, Advocacy Officer at [email protected] or +256 312 265 821