President Museveni’s decision to sign the Anti-Homosexuality Act into law on 24th February has led to a near immediate and widely predicted escalation of mob justice in Uganda. Urgent steps must be taken by the Ugandan government to protect the safety and right to life of all its citizens, and protect against a breakdown in the rule of law, said the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project today.
Public misinformation surrounding the new law, and irresponsible and unlawful media outings, pose a grave and immediate danger to the lives and safety of many Ugandans. Since 20th December 2013, when the law was passed by the Ugandan parliament, EHAHRDP has received reports of at least five incidents of ‘mob justice’ against perceived members of Uganda’s LGBT community. In addition to numerous unlawful arrests, there have been reports of forced evictions, and several suicide attempts. At the time of writing, there were credible reports of at least two extremely violent and serious incidents of mob violence in Kampala within twenty-four hours of the law being signed.
“The passage of this poorly drafted law has been complicated by inflammatory, misleading and often contradictory public statements made by politicians, said Mr. Hassan Shire, Executive Director of EHAHRDP. “President Museveni, as head of state, must quell the hysteria incited by this law, firmly and publicly denounce any vigilante attacks, and take all necessary steps to protect all of his citizens”.
As President of the Republic of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni is required, under Article 99 (3) of the Constitution, to abide by, uphold and safeguard the Constitution and laws of Uganda, and to promote the welfare of its citizens. In its statement of 20th February 2014, the Office of the President reiterated the Ugandan government’s “commitment to uphold and protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons in Uganda as guaranteed by the Constitution”. The law that has been passed fundamentally conflicts with this sentiment and violates many of its provisions. However the responsibilities of state officials to uphold the Constitution remain the same, and Ugandan public officials including the President and Inspector General of Police, must take immediate, visible, and concrete steps to ensure that members of the public do not take the law into their own hands.
EHAHRDP welcomes statements in the media by the Minister of Health, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, that all people will be able to continue to access healthcare services, without discrimination on the grounds of their sexual orientation. This assertion must urgently be reinforced through clear directives to all health workers that any discrimination will not be tolerated, as well as the confidentiality of any information they receive.
The Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary are all bound to protect and uphold the Constitution of Uganda, yet the new law in its provisions and its effects violates numerous of its provision, including article 21 on equality and freedom from discrimination, article 22 (protection of right to life), article 27 (right to privacy), and article 29 (protection of freedom of conscience, expression, movement, religion, assembly and association) among others. Urgent steps must therefore be taken to review and repeal the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014.
For more information, please contact:
Hassan Shire, Executive Director, on [email protected] or +256 772 753 753
Rachel Nicholson, Advocacy Officer, on [email protected] or +256 778 921 274