Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The UHRC response to my article is as laughable as it is ludicrous

“Don’t be afraid. Go on speaking, and don’t be silent, for I am with you. No one will attack and harm you, for I have many people in this city”. Acts 18:9-10
I received a response to my article on the Ugandans at Heart forum by the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) with a mixture of consternation and laughter. With consternation because the UHRC could debase itself by sinking so low and with hope that the article portrayed the type of people we have at the commission. If anyone doubted the commission’s mediocrity, the response to my article ostensibly authored by my sister Florence Munyirwa can really confirm that. I, however, must state that such media exchanges are healthy and they don’t only buttress freedom of expression which is a cardinal human right but also help to bolster democracy in our society. I will respond to the UHRC article in turn.

1. The Commission in its opening remarks states that it has observed me as “a self-acclaimed human rights defender” but adds that it’s concerned that I should get adequate mental health and counseling. I want to state from the outset that I appreciate that I need adequate mental health just like everyone including but not limited to all UHRC staff need mental health services. As to whether I am a self-acclaimed human rights defender, I refer the UHRC to United Nations Fact Sheet 29 for it is absurd that a whole National Human Rights Institution that has recently won an award from the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) and holds an ‘A’ status given by the United Nation’s International Coordinating Committee for National Human Rights Institutions doesn’t know who a human rights defender is.
On the allegation that I have assaulted a Police Officer at CPS and another at the UHRC Head Office, I kindly beg that Ms Munyirwa the author of the derogatory response comes to court to give evidence. The UHRC is full of lawyers and they know quite well that whoever alleges proves. As I speak, I am out on cash bail and I will periodically report to court to answer to the charges that were politically-motivated by the UHRC. I wish to state that the UHRC is only a National Human Rights Institution in name but in practice it is a political institution aimed at doing public relations for Museveni’s NRM regime by whitewashing the regime’s depraved and nasty human rights record.

2. That I have been admitted to Butabika more than twice. I find the UHRC reasoning not only wanting but also unfortunate and absurd. The UHRC has engineered my being taken to Butabika on two occasions. They only do that after I have punched holes in what they do and shown them that they have to respect donors’ and taxpayers’ money. On both occasions, I have not been subjected to drugs because I have asserted myself. I want to request that the UHRC produces a medical report from Butabika if it is to continue using that pretext to gag me and dismiss me as an insane person. I must add, though, that I will proudly accept to be labeled insane if that’s what it takes to fight for justice in this country. I will however, not shy away from assuring those who label me insane that for them they are suffering from schizophrenia which is the highest form of mental illness. May I also assure the UHRC that stigma is antithetical to promotion of human rights?

3. Award for Best African National Human Rights Institution (NHRI)
I clearly stated in my article the reasons as to why the UHRC cannot be the best African NHRI. If the UHRC disagrees with what I stated, they should show how far they have gone in addressing the rights concerning the areas I raised. Fortunately, as I write this article, yesterday Friday, November 16, the Commission Chairperson Med S.K Kaggwa was at Makerere University School of Law on a function organized by the school’s Public Interest Legal Aid Clinic (PILAC) together with AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi and Prof John-Jean Barya addressing students, human rights and law practitioners. In his introductory remarks, Prof Christopher Mbazira remarked that the public had fears that with the appointment of Med Kaggwa as UHRC Chairperson the situation would worsen but it has improved. When time for discussion came, I told the audience and Mr. Kaggwa that I am fully convinced that the UHRC is promoting human rights in the breach and it never merited an award. Mr. Kaggwa couldn’t respond. In the morning hours yesterday, a day after responding to my article, the Commission locked both its gates to block my entrance. This was not the first time. They have done that several times whenever they behave in an uncouth manner towards me. Surprisingly, I had been to the Chairman’s office on November 9 and I had been given November 16 as the day when I would meet him. I am sure the locking of the commission gates had been ordered by Gordon Mwesigye or Florence Munyirwa who knew I would question her about her defamatory statement against me. It has taken me many years in school and out of school to build my name. I will not accept the UHRC, an institution mandated to protect and promote our rights cardinal of which is the right to human dignity which includes the right to one’s good name to destroy my name by a stroke of a pen. I will not accept that! Accordingly, I demand a written and published apology from the commission and if the commission can prove that I am defaming it like the statement claims, I should also be forced to apologise to it publicly. I know my observation about the UHRC is first justified and secondly, it is a fair comment. Justification and fair comment are two defences against defamation. If the UHRC through Ms Munyirwa can prove that their remarks are fair comments and/or justified, they should state so and re-echo their remarks. 

4. Slow resolution of disputes and failure to pay UHRC awards
I must state that I find the reasoning given by UHRC wanting and laughable. When the UHRC states that they have to take time to adhere to the principles of natural justice, I laugh out loud instead of mourning. It’s well-known to everyone who cares to know that it’s a principle of natural justice that “justice delayed is justice denied”. Put another way, it is a maxim of equity that “delay defeats equity”. So, Ms Munyirwa, what exactly do you mean when you evoke natural justice? I hope the UHRC knows the principles of natural justice? I know there’s a principle of law that requires the judges, the commission in this case to listen to both sides. This principle is called “Audi alteram partem”. Adhering to this principle doesn’t mean the matter should take ages before it’s resolved. Otherwise, how come the courts are faster yet ordinarily the tribunals should be faster than courts in dispensing justice? On the court awards, I wish to re-echo what the commission chairperson Mr. Med Kaggwa said at the above mentioned function at Makerere University. The chairperson stated that “the government owes Sh4.5 billion to human rights victims and it seems not interested to pay yet some of the victims need this money to treat themselves”. This augments my statement that the victims rarely get the awards. The question to be asked thus is, “What does it help to lodge one’s complaint with the UHRC when there will likely be no compensation even if one won the case?” Granted, the UHRC has no budget for awards. Is it not a toothless barking dog? Has it ever petitioned parliament to amend the UHRC Act to allow it the mandate to compensate victims? My considered view is that the UHRC is in place for propaganda purposes – i.e to show that the NRM is committed to fight human rights violations. During my Secondary School days we would say, “Tubamanyire” meaning we have known you. Surely, some of us have known the UHRC.
It is quite unfortunate for the UHRC to state that I have personal vendetta against any UHRC staff member. I share nothing else in common with those people apart from the fact that I am impassioned for human rights and justice which ironically they shamelessly abuse although their mandate is to promote, protect and defend them. I am told that a group of enraged young men (call them “patriots”) under the leadership of Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Uganda’s current president picked fire arms on February 6, 1981 to fight a government that they had lost to in an election that had been held hardly two months before on December 10, 1980. That group of “patriots” walked on dead bodies to ascend to state power five years later. No state institution including the UHRC has ever labeled such “patriots” violent. Paradoxically, I, Vincent Nuwagaba who only uses my pen and my tongue am portrayed by the UHRC to be violent. What a contradiction? What an absurdity?

5. The Commission fights human rights defenders
I want to re-echo what I stated that the Commission fights human rights defenders who are critical of the government’s sordid human rights record. I am a human rights defender and I don’t have to labour to prove that. My record can speak for me. I believe if nobody is willing to speak your story, your story should speak about you. When I was a students’ leader at Makerere University since 2001-2004, I consistently decried the inhuman and degrading treatment the government subjected to the government-sponsored students. I wrote several letters in the Daily Monitor and anybody including but not limited to the UHRC can check the Monitor archives to ascertain my claim. I wasn’t paid by anybody but was driven by my passion for justice and human dignity. I strenuously opposed the repeal of Article 105(2) in our Constitution both on air and in print. I have rescued so many people detained illegally in the police cells. Just recently, I helped all the inmates of Murchison Bay Prison make phone calls to their people free of charge. Before my incarceration there the Welfare Officer Nurru Kateregga used to demand for money before making any phone call for anybody yet the welfare office is funded by our very organization the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) under the Para Legal Advisory Services project. I continue to be a fearless voice of the voiceless and what frustrates me is the fact that we don’t have a fully independent press. Otherwise, I would be exposing the most glaring human rights cases that you cannot believe. In all I do, I get no salary; I get no funding from donors or taxpayers’ money. So what is the UHRC claim to fame vis-à-vis poor Vincent Nuwagaba?

6. I want to thank the UHRC for putting a very big smile on my face. I am sure the UHRC is caught between a devil and a deep blue sea. This reminds me of a story that my grandma Susanna Kirakwende (RIP) used to tell me when I was young. The story is about a hyena which  swallowed meat fats that were glued onto a stone that had been overly heated. When the hyena swallowed the meat, it found it extremely hot. Therefore, the hyena started asking itself, “Ncwere, ncwere obunuzi, miire, miire omuriro”, meaning “if I spit, I will spit the delicacy; if I swallow, I will swallow fire”. The hyena stayed in its indecision until it died of the hot meat fat glued on a stone that was as hot as a furnace. Likewise, in its myopic folly of portraying me an insane man and at the same time prosecuting me, the UHRC will ultimately sooner than later meet its demise. As a matter of fact, the UHRC has since February 8, this year subjected me to inhuman and degrading treatment but also instigated pharmacological torture against me. I am part of the civil society group that developed the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Bill which was enacted into law and assented to by the President on July 12, 2012. I also did a media campaign for this law by publishing articles in newspapers. I am sure the UHRC knows very well that among the forms of torture highlighted by the Act is pharmacological torture. Can the UHRC claim it has not tortured me or can Mr. Gordon Mwesigye claim he hasn’t tortured me?
As a matter of fact, I have no problem with the police at the UHRC. I know they are just used as attack dogs. One of them has on one occasion asked me, “how come you don’t quarrel with anybody but when Mwesigye sees you he becomes hysterical?” and I told him, “ask yourself that or ask Mr. Mwesigye”. I never go to the commission with any tool – not even a safety pin or a razor blade. How come they fear me? I know sooner than later we shall dismiss Ugandan dictators without arms. And I am happy I am becoming an expert on non-violence revolution using nobody’s experience. I am not using Mahatma Gandhi’s experience; I am not using Martin Luther King’s experience. I only request the journalists to always cover me so that in the near future there’s a video, audio and written evidence of how to overthrow decadent regimes. I have learnt that to overthrow Museveni, we must start with his roots – who are his cadres in state institutions. Museveni merely thrives and survives on decadent institutions. That’s why I will go for some elements in the police such as Edward Kale Kayihura and Andrew Felix Kaweesi; I will go for his cadres in the UHRC, I will go for his cadres in the judiciary and his cadres in the Electoral Commission. We eject cadres from state institutions, we shall have ejected Museveni.
I find it laughable that with my levels of education, with my work experience in academic institutions, research institutions and human rights organizations, I Vincent Nuwagaba, can be branded by the UHRC a vagabond that has to be kept off its premises! I have stated this several times and I have to reiterate it. Public institutions are impersonal. They only exist to serve the public. The UHRC doesn’t belong to Gordon Mwesigye, Med Ssozi Kaggwa, Roselyn Karugonjo or Florence Munyirwa who shamelessly abuse the otherwise revered institution. I definitely love the UHRC. Incidentally, I even love and respect the UHRC staff including those who degrade, dehumanize and torture me. But I vehemently hate their filthy actions and character. I separate sin from the sinner. I accordingly, hate the sin but I unreservedly love and respect the sinner. 

7. Visits to detention centres
I find it laughable if not ludicrous that the UHRC says it visits detention centres yet it has never published the grave human rights violations inflicted on the prisoners especially in prison farms. Please, go to Murchison Bay prison and ask for a prisoner called Gerald Kamanzi. Ask him how he had three bullets showered into his foot. Ask him whether he is a convict. If he is not, tell the entire world why remands are used to do hard labour in the prisons’ farms. Mao Tse Tung once said “No investigation, no right to speak”. The truth of the matter that UHRC only does propaganda not human rights work. The Commission should let people like us who do human rights work do the talking and the commission does the listening. By the way, very soon, I will publish the glaring case of a young man who was castrated by the state operatives and his case was abandoned by the commission depending on flimsy and uncalled for technicalities.
8. Partisan officials at the UHRC
I know that all fairly educated Ugandans know for sure that very few state institutions if any employ people on meritocracy basis. By the way this also goes to non-state institutions. My concern, however, is about state institutions. Before one gets a job, they must be from an NRM family, they must be NRM members or sympathizers and in a number if not all cases, investigations have to be carried out up to the Local Council level. We have village internal security officers (VISOs), parish internal security officers (PISOs), Gombolola internal security officers (GISOs), District security officers (DISOs) and so forth. We also have MISOs (Makerere internal security officers) and I have friends in ISO who tell me that ISO deploys everywhere – including in churches, mosques, non-governmental NGOs, hospitals, academic institutions, name it. At the function at Makerere University, Mr. Med Kaggwa acknowledged that he was appointed to head the commission because he was an NRM cadre. Prof John-Jean Barya, expressed worry that president Museveni has always stated that he wants to appoint NRM cadres to run the judiciary. IGP Kale Kayihura is an NRM cadre and all the leaders in the police are NRM cadres – on Tuesday, November 13, the OC CID at CPS proudly told me and some two Makerere students of how he is an NRM cadre and how they are ready to crush the opposition. He even candidly pulled out his NRM card and showed it to us! The entire Electoral Commission is headed by NRM cadre (we have done a scientific study for the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and UNDP headed by Professor John-Jean Barya). Thus, if all other state institutions are run by the NRM cadres, what’s so unique, what is so special; what is so spectacular about the UHRC?
9. UHRC position on topical human rights issues
I am glad that the UHRC says that it gives its position on topical human rights issues. How come, I don’t see its position on the right to education; the right to health; the right to employment and the right to adequate standards of living? How come the Commission is not upfront and forthright on socio-economic rights which in most of my newspaper articles I have accentuated? How come the police stay in condemned asbestos roofed houses far contrary to ILO Convention 162 that was ratified by Uganda many years ago? How come the commission has always been silent about workers’ rights which are a springboard for all other rights? How come in the wake of public universities’ fees hike tuition, Mr. Kaggwa said it was alright? How come many civilians are tried in military courts and stay in prison for more than six years as remands? Go to Murchison Bay and look for John Bosco Olweny. Follow his case to its logical conclusion and then tell me that UHRC does human rights work. Talk about human rights reports is hogwash. Unfortunately, the UHRC will win an award as the best NHRI from the ACHPR and will get an A status from the UN International Coordinating Committee for National Human Rights Institutions on the basis of the reports it makes. But do reports promote and protect human rights? I am in the field and know what is taking place. If I was allowed freedom to utilize my brains and time, I would write a paper on each of the components raised. I believe, though that I will do my best before I am exterminated. If I am killed before doing that so be it.
The UHRC rightly states that it is the only National Human Rights Institution and it will remain so. The statement adds that UHRC has no need to compete for supremacy with any other organization. I know the UHRC personnel feel offended whenever Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) is appreciated. But that’s because UHRC has abdicated its duties and obligations. It has been overshadowed by FHRI in the field of human rights and in Uganda human rights is synonymous with Livingstone Sewanyana and FHRI. I also want to state that organizations such as the National NGO Forum currently headed by Mr. Richard Sewakiryanga are doing a more relevant job than the UHRC. However, I will not overly critique the UHRC. Surely, virtually all state institutions in Uganda are now kaput.
Anybody who tries to block me from accessing the services of any state institutions is a somnambulist; a sleep walker for I know I am a citizen and not a subject. The UHRC can only do that if they banish me. Unfortunately for them, several direct and indirect overtures have been made to banish me and I have refused. Ask the human rights defenders who are close to me how many times they have attempted to get me asylum in the most highly developed country America. Conduct research and establish how many US government officials have had interviews with me and asked me what I want and I never tell them I want asylum.
I would like to refer everyone including the UHRC of the scripture “We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2Corithians 4:8-9).
Finally, I advise my sister Florence Munyirwa not to be used. After receiving the statement in my inbox I asked her in a text message whether she was ready to finish the battle she had launched against me and she replied by saying she was not involved in any fight against me because she doesn’t want strife adding that the statement was by the UHRC. My worry, however, is why does she accept to be used as though she is a robo? As a matter of fact, I cannot fight her for I know she is not a problem. Let her learn that she can only make a plausible point by attacking the points I raise not by labeling me a mentally deranged person for I am sure readers can decipher who is mentally deranged between me and her owing to what we write. Labeling me insane is just diversionary aimed to forestall us from asking the tough questions. I know I am not only a critical thinker but a philosopher king who cannot indulge in trading insults.
The UHRC should also apologise to HURINET’s Patrick Tumwine for abusing his name in matters the commission doesn’t know. The truth of the matter is that on September 28, when we had a workshop about the right to know, I was grabbed by the police from the hotel at the orders of the Director for information in the Office of the Prime Minister Simon Mayende because he felt uncomfortable with the truth I was speaking. Patrick Tumwine followed me out after my arrest and pleaded with the police to release me in vain. When I told him about the UHRC statement he was very disappointed that the UHRC can disgrace itself to that level! I cannot rule out anything including but not limited to being put to death for my advocacy for total, real liberation of this country. Therefore, I request that whatever I have documented be published online and in hard copies in case I have been exterminated by Museveni and his cadres including UHRC staff. All generations will thus know what Vincent Nuwagaba stood for.
Vincent Nuwagaba is a human rights defender

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Fr Gaetano Batanyenda’s prophetic call must be a wake-up call to translate our Constitution

Reverend Father Gaetano Batanyenda, the outspoken Catholic cleric from Kabale Diocese gave an electrifying interview in the Ugandan paper, Sunday Monitor September 23, titled “Museveni is hostage of his actions and people around him”. A comment beneath his interview read “If Uganda had 5 genuine patriots like Fr Gaetano, I think the Pearl of africa would rise and shine again. Ndiwulira vva mu kasooli. I hope M7 takes note of all these points raised by the man of God”. Ndiwulira vva mu kasooli literary means, weevil get out of the maize corns.
Surely, this is an interview that should be taken very seriously by all Ugandans and all partners of Uganda. I was particularly thrilled by the fact that Fr Gaetano decried the failure to translate the Constitution in the various Ugandan languages, a situation that has kept many Ugandans not only poor but also ignorant.
Like Fr Gaetano stated, Article 4 of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda states that “The state shall promote awareness of this Constitution by translating it into Ugandan languages and disseminating as wide as possible and providing for the teaching of the Constitution in all the educational institutions, armed forces, training and regularly transmitting and publishing programmes through media generally”.
What baffles me, is that exactly seventeen years after the enactment of the 1995 Constitution, no effort has ever been made to translate the Constitution by the government or any of its agencies. The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) is mandated to carry out civic education among other functions. However, it has made no efforts to have our Constitution translated into different languages. What some of the UHRC staff do instead is to subject me, human rights activist Vincent Nuwagaba to inhuman and degrading treatment in addition to labeling me a mentally deranged person!
Credit must be given to the Human Rights Centre whose chair is Margaret Ssekagya, former chairperson of the UHRC and current UN Special Rapporteur on the status of human rights defenders. The Human Rights Centre has at least laboured to translate chapter four of the Ugandan Constitution which is dubbed the Uganda Bill of Rights into different languages. The challenge, however, may be that the copies are not enough for the entire country.
We must note that we have no legal obligation to put to task the non-governmental organisations to translate for us the Constitution. What we have is a mere moral obligation.
I understand, Machiavellian governments like the one we have in Kampala derive pleasure in having poor and ignorant citizens. That is the sole reason as to why our Constitution cannot be translated and distributed to the ordinary citizens who are responsible for Museveni’s hold onto power.
In the same issue of the Sunday Monitor, Mr Busingye Kabumba, a lecturer of constitutional law at the once prestigious Makerere University wrote under the article titled “The 1995 Uganda Constitution is nothing but an illusory law” that “All power belongs to the President, who exercises this power through the armed forces”. He went ahead to state that, “Article 1 of the Constitution is a lie – and the Constitution in Museveni’s Uganda is an elaborate farce that is cynically perpetrated by the president to consolidate and extend his hold on power”.
I hereunder reproduce article 1 of the 1995 Ugandan Constitution,
1 (1) All power belongs to the people who shall exercise their sovereignty in accordance with this Constitution.
(2) Without limiting the effect of clause (1) of this article, all authority in the State emanates from the people of Uganda; and the people shall be governed through their will and consent.
(3) All power and authority of Government and its organs derive from this Constitution, which in turn derives its authority from the people who consent to be governed in accordance with this Constitution.
(4) The people shall express their will and consent on who shall govern them and how they should be governed, through regular, free and fair elections of their representatives or through referenda.

Mr Busingye Kabumba rightly avers that if one asked anyone on the Kampala streets where power lies one would be told that all power belongs to the President who exercises his sovereignty through the army. This is like he states the unadulterated truth. What is particularly galling is that the president no longer exercises his inglorious power through only the army but also the police which ordinarily should be a civil force.

Why article 1 is a farce
But why is Article 1of our Constitution a farce? The answer clearly lies in the absurd deliberate decision by President Museveni and his NRM machinery to confine the knowledge of the Constitution to not only the elites but to a tiny minority of the elites. During my days at Makerere University, we did a course in Political Science known as Constitutionalism and Political stability and then Administrative Law. That was the closest Political Science students would come close to a Constitution. Not that they felt the Constitution was important as a tool to defend and assert their rights and demand accountability from the state but to many, it was merely a tool to help them pass exams.

I stay with some law students who have no copy of the Constitution and most likely they last read it when they were studying Constitutional law or human rights. The summary of it is that very few know their rights and the few who know them don’t have the wherewithal to assert them. That’s why the son of Kaguta will invariably tinker with that sacrosanct document to suit his interests.
But the most important reason why our Constitution has become illusory is because the ordinary citizens have never had a chance to read it. True, our reading culture is poor but some people in the villages take time to discover what they are entitled to. I remember when I was a primary school kid, my grandmother used to read and sometimes give me some books to read for her – Abagyenda bareeba; Rwakyekoreire Buhaano, Eirwariro rya Rwango, among others. My grandma couldn’t fail to read the Bible and catechism book for the Catholic Church.

I am even sure, if our Constitution was translated some of us would go with copies and urge the ordinary people to read telling them that is what we read at the university. How many wouldn’t want to get the knowledge that is disseminated at the universities?

Museveni capitalizes on lies and the masses’ ignorance
For all the years he has been in power, President Museveni has built a wedge between the elites and the ordinary Ugandans. This, he has managed to do by maligning the elites as liars and opportunists and portraying himself as a Godsend saviour to the ordinary people. Whenever some of us attempt to teach these people their Constitutional rights, many of them ignore us as liars. In Ankole and Kigezi, there are two sayings which go, “Amaisho gomukiga n’omunyankore nokwerebera” and “Amaisho gomukiga n’omunyankore nokukwataho”. This means that for anybody from Kigezi or Ankole to believe what one is saying, they have to see it with their naked eyes and touch it with their hands. We have many doubting Thomases but like Thomas said my Lord and my God after touching the scars of the risen Jesus, the peasants will say, “our redeemers and saviours” when we access them translated copies of the Constitution. Accordingly, our people will believe the talk about rights – God given and Constitutional rights when they see with their naked eyes official instruments where those rights are documented.

And I believe if the people fully understand that they have rights, they will surely assert those rights. I spent nine months in Luzira prison over trumped up charges of assault and threatening violence which the superior court set aside and quashed the conviction upon appeal. But I was told many people were condemning me for opposing the increment of fees to the tune of 126 percent in public universities which according to Section 2 of the Universities and other Tertiary Institutions Act are universities which must be maintained out of public funds. People didn’t know that what I was doing was in my constitutional powers.

The Constitution and all other human rights instruments that Uganda has ratified emphasise the principle of non-discrimination. Sadly, we have people who courtesy of patronage and clientelism are sponsored by taxpayers’ money by statehouse while the majority sons and daughters of peasants drop out of school. The Constitution decries sectarianism but the jobs are given on the basis of “Ori Mwana wa ani” (whose son or daughter are you) not meritocracy.
Some of us have a record of excellence in what we have studied and we deem ourselves to be the refined brains necessary for the transformation of Uganda. However, we are denied the opportunity to serve our countrymen for two reasons – 1) we are critical, 2) our parents and relatives never fought in the senseless war that brought this regime to power.

While I appreciate Fr Gaetano’s views in his interview with Sunday Monitor, I am diametrically opposed to the idea that Museveni shouldn’t be held accountable for the mistakes he committed while in power if he accepts to step aside in 2016. This would promote impunity and I am worried should Museveni study the public mood and realise it is in consonance with Fr Gaetano’s view – that he should be for forgiven, he will concentrate on the looting that has never been witnessed before and then steps aside in 2016 to enjoy the primitively accumulated wealth in a first class country. Therefore, even if Museveni steps down in 2016 he should be tried for the atrocities he has committed. Fr Gaetano must be reminded that errors of commission and omission by Museveni since he launched his bush war through the 27 years he has been in power don’t amount to mere mistakes. They are sordid and grave atrocities. Remember the Mukula massacre in Teso and all the crimes against humanity in northern Uganda. Remember also that he has privatized state property without giving accountability. His sectarianism has killed our generation and today people spend ten to fifteen years roaming the streets with first class and second class upper degrees when jobs are given to the mediocre with transcripts from Nasser Road. What about the decrepit state of our hospitals when he flies his daughters to give birth from developed countries when Ugandan women cannot be attended to because of lack of gloves.
I have personally suffered gravely at the hands of Museveni and his machinery which he (Museveni) knows very well and no remedy has ever been extended to me. I will commit suicide from the constitutional square should Museveni and his associates be forgiven all the grave atrocities they have committed.
Finally, all serious actors in Uganda whether religious leaders, civil society groups, the opposition and the state agencies which are maintained by taxpayers’  money should push for the translation of our Constitution in all local languages. Our people have been kept in ignorance for so long. But the prophetic call by Reverend Father Gaetano Batanyenda should be a wake-up call for all of us. Like the Bible in Luke 4: 18 says “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed”. I definitely have no scintilla of hatred for President Yoweri Museveni whose sense of humour I like. But I have all the hatred for impunity which is not concomitant with constitutionalism, rule of law, democracy and human rights values that I have devoted all my life to promote. For God and my country.

Vincent Nuwagaba is a human rights defender

The 9th Parliament must shun MP Drito’s move with utter contempt

By Vincent Nuwagaba

Posted  Tuesday, September 4  2012 at  01:00
In Summary
Drito also reportedly stated thus, “This is a way of promoting democracy so that we have in our society a number of leaders whom we can bank on for advice in leadership when they leave office”. I am amazed that a whole Member of Parliament doesn’t know that democracy and impunity are not concomitant.

I read with utter shock and consternation the September 2, Sunday Monitor story titled, “NRM legislator to table Bill on extending presidential immunity”. Already youth MP Peter Ogwang is busy seducing Museveni to come back in 2016; now MP Martin Drito is moving to desecrate our Constitution! What’s wrong with these MPs?
A Constitution is supposed to be a living document which shouldn’t be tinkered with all the time. The American Constitution which has lasted 225 years has had only 27 amendments. As for Uganda, like I stated before in these pages, I lose count of how many times our Constitution has been altered. A Constitutional amendment should be for the public good, not for shielding one particular individual or a small group of individuals.
Drito reportedly said, “The presidents when serving the country will be rest assured that when out of power, they will not be prosecuted because I am sure many of them must be scared of jail and any form of punishment when they are immunity-free”. I would like to assure Mr Drito that that’s exactly what rule of law means - that nobody whether the king or the president is above the law. Hon Drito’s move is utterly antithetical to rule of law.
Drito also reportedly stated thus, “This is a way of promoting democracy so that we have in our society a number of leaders whom we can bank on for advice in leadership when they leave office”. I am amazed that a whole Member of Parliament doesn’t know that democracy and impunity are not concomitant.
The proposed constitutional amendment will promote impunity and is antithetical to international law. With such a provision in our Constitution, we can get a heartless, greedy, insensitive and inconsiderate leader who will personalise state property, donate some to cronies and relatives, kill political opponents, abuse human rights with impunity; override all state institutions, including Parliament and the Judiciary and we have nothing to do. We don’t need in our society any human being who is clearly above the law.
Should Drito’s proposed Constitutional Amendment (Immunity for the outgoing President) Bill 2012 be passed (God forbid), we shall confirm that Parliament is anti-people. Our MPs should beware of introducing what Professor George Kanyeihamba calls constitutional viruses in our Constitution. In their wisdom, the framers of the 1995 Constitution knew well that all the immunity the President needs is what Article 98 provides.
Drito should be reminded that his move is the most unpatriotic move and he should totally erase it from his mind. President Museveni should also pronounce himself on this move and assure the nation that he is not behind this inglorious proposed Constitutional Amendment Bill.
At the height of the campaign to expunge the term limits provision which was provided for under Article 105(2) in our Constitution, some of us in civil society vehemently opposed the move for we knew it would set the country on a path to democratic reversals. Personally, I wrote many pieces in newspapers and spoke on the then popular Ekimezza. However, the unpatriotic Seventh Parliament members, went ahead and expunged the provision to pave way for President Museveni to rule until he gets tired.
Today, I see some of the MPs who voted to remove term limits championing the campaign to restore term limits. Drito may be in NRM today and he is safe because it is the ruling party. A few years from today he might find himself in the opposition. I don’t think he would like it when he is tortured and traumatised at the orders of a president who will be immune from prosecution even when he/she is out of power. There are many Ugandans who will never forgive the Seventh Parliament for desecrating our Constitution; I call upon the Ninth Parliament not to further desecrate our Constitution. Please, shun Drito’s move with the contempt it deserves. Only then can we truly say, For God and My Country.
Mr Nuwagaba is a human rights defender.

Translation of our Constitution in local languages must be govt priority

By Vincent Nuwagaba

Posted  Thursday, October 4  2012 at  01:00
In Summary
As we mark 50 years as an independent state, I make a clarion call to the political leaders to prioritise the translation of the Constitution in local languages. The government should also distribute copies of the Constitution to all Local Council leaders...

Reverend Fr Gaetano Batanyenda’s interview titled “Museveni is hostage of his actions and people around him” published by the Sunday Monitor of September 23, captivated me. The man of God gives prophetic words in his interview which if followed would deliver this country. I find very enthralling, the fact that he decries the failure by the government to translate the Constitution into the different local languages.
Indeed, Fr Gaetano is right when he asks, “Imagine being illiterate and poor, what can you do?” Poverty and illiteracy inevitably have frustration, normlessness, and hopelessness as by-products. Ultimately, poverty and illiteracy beget further poverty and illiteracy just like the Bible says in Galatians 6:7 (What you sow is what you reap). A society whose citizenry is ignorant of its rights cannot demand and assert their rights, including the right to development.
President Museveni has always touted the teaching of the so-called science subjects because they are marketable. Nonetheless, the concentration on sciences at the expense of humanities and social sciences has created docile citizens who cannot hold their leaders to account. Today, civics is no longer taught in primary schools, political education is less emphasised in secondary schools and government institutions such as the Uganda Human Rights Commission which should ordinarily carry out civic education seem to be less enthusiastic about the translation of our Constitution.
As we mark 50 years as an independent state, I make a clarion call to the political leaders to prioritise the translation of the Constitution to local languages. The government should also distribute copies of the Constitution to all Local Council leaders free of charge. And, indeed, like Fr Batanyenda argued, the excuse of no money shouldn’t arise because we have a lot of money squandered in useless ventures. I would appreciate the patriotism hype, if it was aimed at teaching our people about our Constitution and other relevant laws and rights.
It is a shame that though Ugandans participated in the making of the Constitution through their elected delegates, 90 per cent don’t know what the Constitution entails. Our people must be empowered through knowing that the Constitution provides parameters within which our leaders must operate and that if leaders go beyond those parameters, there are sanctions in the Constitution. If our patriotism drive will entail teaching citizens their God given and constitutional rights, I am ready to render my services at no cost. After all, I attained university education on taxpayers’ money.
I commend Fr Batanyenda for acknowledging that religious leaders are compromised with favours from President Museveni which he equates with “kissing Jesus on the other cheek” therefore betraying him by not fighting for his people. As a matter of fact, religious leaders are the salt and the light of the earth (Matthew 5:13-16). The Bible says, “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father”.
The religious leaders whose deeds shine are those who are guided by the scripture in Luke 4:18; those who know they are annointed to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives and sight to the blind. That’s exactly what Fr Gaetano and some other clerics are doing by condemning corruption, impunity and grave human rights violations. Indeed, Jesus came so that we might have life and have it abundantly. Accordingly, the clerics cannot confine themselves to spiritual aspects and abandon the struggle for justice.
While some people argue that wielding power for so long is synonymous with success, Fr Gaetano says, “You see the definition of success is to have and live a successor, and if you can’t have a successor, then you are not successful”. This candid counsel should be taken seriously.
While I concur with Fr Batanyenda in his interview, I radically disagree with him when he says Museveni shouldn’t be held accountable for mistakes he made while in power. This is tantamount to impunity.
Mr Nuwagaba is a human rights defender.

Letter to Commissioner General of Prisons

Dear Dr Johnson Byabashaija,
I have been in Murchison Bay prison as an inmate for three times. First as a remand between 19th August to 3rd September 2009, second as a convict (although I was innocent and was later acquitted) from 2nd February to 13th October.

I wish to raise the following issues if indeed like you Dr Byabashaija have always stated the prisons are to be correctional centres;
1. Prisoners' rights must be respected, protected and promoted by the Uganda Prisons' Services. While in Murchison Bay the OC Mr Selestine Twesigye does his best, reports I have got from Kiggo are appalling and reports from prison farms are heart-breaking. I have also had an opportunity to witness with my own eyes prisoners who are maimed and permanently disabled from the prison farms. I have not seen any prisoner who tells me that after his/her sentence they are given money yet they are overworked like donkeys. This is a modern form of slavery which is contrary to article 44 of the Ugandan Constitution.

2. It is my considered view that either the office of Welfare/Rehabilitation officer be closed or the senior occupant Nurru Kateregga be relieved of the responsibilities she is charged with. FHRI's para legal advisory services  facilitates that office by among others air time, motorcycles and other paraphernalia. Shamelessly, they have always been asking inmates to sign for money with the property stores so as to buy air time and make phone calls for them. Definitely, you are aware that more than 90 per cent of the inmates don't have the money and receive no visitors.

Nurru Katerega tortured me psychologically and deliberately refused to attend to me hence depriving me of my rights to use the welfare office. I have vowed to fight back just in case I am to be taken back. Not because I am a criminal but because in banana Republics like ours, prison is home for serious human rights defenders, journalists, authors, researchers and opposition politicians. Personally, I am not a mere human rights defender who laments but I have come to a conclusion that with Museveni as a president, our human rights situation can only get worse. Therefore, I am using my brains to disorganise him, to raise awareness and have very many Ugandans annoyed and to portray him as a monstrous president that he is. Consequently, I have always been tortured, traumatised, tormented, persecuted and oppressed. I have always had trumped up charges against me but I am not about to capitulate. If Museveni with a handful of followers managed to overthrow the then political establishment in five years when there was no face book, there were no mobile phones, there was no internet and majority of the people were illiterate, how can we fail to remove his dictatorship with all the facilities in our favour. And I don't mean that we shall pick arms to fight him. We are sure that we shall liberate this country without firing a single shot. In any case the dispossessed and deprived armed personnel - the military, the police and the prisons personnel will reach a point and turn the guns against their enemy.
I would not want such a scenario though. What I need is for us to oust the NRM and get Museveni, Kayihura and other thieves and blood stained NRM members and throw them in Luzira for eternity. I am impassioned for justice and I abhor the injustice orchestrated, perpetrated and perpetuated by Museveni. I will never ever support Museveni and I will use all the time God has given on earth scheming on how to break his political spine.

I call upon you to conduct yourselves professionally, serve whoever comes as a leader and desist from partisan politics. Leave that to Kale Kayihura. But we shall surely penalise him.
Finally, if Nurru Kateregga is not kicked out of the welfare office in Murchison Bay, I will have to use the press but also I will appeal to FHRI to reconsider our partnership with Murchison Bay Prison. I have a hunch that she didn't sit the interview and if she did, there must have been irregularities in the selection. She cannot know that public offices are not only impersonal but they belong to the public. She doesn't know that in prison, a prisoner is more important than her. She doesn't know that she is not paid a salary by tax payer's to conduct personal business - doing her course work for UMI during the working hours. She reports at 11am and leaves at 1pm. She is arrogant, myopic and narrow-minded. One of the reasons for her arrogance I was told by a certain PO that it is because she is beautiful. I hope that is not the ticket that got her the job. I hope the phone number is meant to ensure feedback. I would like to come and debate with the prisons authorities the contents of my email. For God and my country.
Vincent Nuwagaba

The police strike is quite enthralling

I am enthralled that at long last the police have woken up from their slumber. The strike that we saw on the 5th and 6th of November by the police men's wives was not actually a strike by the women. It was the police themselves on strike through proxy. It is pretty clear that upon marriage a man and his wife become one flesh and thereby cease being two but one person. We also must realise that the women couldn't go on strike without the approval of their husbands and go back the following day.

What does this teach the ruling NRM party? The centre ca no longer hold and things have fallen apart. I am aware that if the President doesn't abdicate his top lieutenants will most likely fight him. Typical of all Machiavellian politicians Museveni has been employing various tools to maintain his hold onto power. For more than two decades, he had never made his mind known to all the people working with him. The supersonic speed at which he is promoting his son, however, has proven to everyone whose eyes are open that he is preparing to create a Kaguta dynasty.
The grand theft euphemistically called corruption is another serious matter that is fast leading to Museveni's down fall. For so long he has been stealing and as he steals his appetite to continue to steal increases. Foolishly, he doesn't realise that he will never in his life consume what he has stolen and his absurd long hand will instead haunt his children. Right now none of Museveni's children or in-law can walk on the streets of Kampala boldly without thinking that somebody is there to spite them.

I am also fully convinced that Museveni is now a captive. For twenty seven years he has broached peace, unity, development, modernisation, prosperity for all, socio-economic transformation and all other flowery slogans. But what do we see instead? As Pope Paul VI observed, "Development is a new name for peace". Accordingly, since development has eluded us, peace has eluded us. Today, a police man who dropped out of school in senior four cannot educate his children beyond senior four. The salary of a special police constable cannot maintain a family of six for two weeks. While the police have been used, abused and misused by Kayihura to inflict torture on opposition politicians and activists, the police are also tortured psychologically.

Gen Kale Kayihura has militarised the police, he runs it as his personal estate, he plants the newly recruited NRM cadres onto the senior officers to spy on them, he has turned the police into enemies of civilians to the extent that even children associate the police with cruelty. Today, around lunch time I was strolling through Kololo and I met very young girls aged between around six and eight. When we started talking they told me I could be a police man and that I would beat them with batons or spray pepper onto them. During our days as undergraduate students at Makerere, students would always sing "police, our murderers, we shall never forget you". Today, they sing, "Police, our murderers, we shall never forgive you".

I pity the police. They suffer double tragedy namely enmity from the civilians and squalid living conditions, meager pay, poor working conditions all of which inflict psychological wounds not only on them but also onto their families. I would call upon the Police to disregard Kayihura's illegal orders and stand for the common good. We don't have to labour so much explaining to the police that Museveni doesn't like them but he only uses, abuses and misuses them. The same applies to the teachers, doctors, the military and all civil servants.Today, the NRM has been synonymous with scandal as if scandal is the NRM's first name. The question I would want to pose is, are Ugandans inherently evil? My answer is no. The Bible is very clear. What you sow is what you reap (Galatians 6:7).

The Ugandan political elite under Museveni has sown theft and that's exactly what it is reaping. Uganda under Museveni is suffering from the most deadly virus - AIDS. The AIDS I mean is Acquired Integrity Deficiency Syndrome. When a permanent secretary in the office of prime minister audaciously states that money fell from heaven so they had to use it the way they wanted you begin to wonder whether these people are not schizophrenic. Museveni can never fight theft of public resources because he is the grand thief. He has also stated in the past that he, Mbabazi and Otafiire came a long way together and that is why he will always defend them whenever they fall into hot soup. It is also clear that many of the politicians that have been stealing with him will always support him because they know once he is out of power they will be in prison. Nonetheless, they forget that God has already liberated Uganda.

One other thing I would like to warn Ugandans about is to beware of those who portray themselves as holier than thou. Mzee Gureme once told me that like the fox, the first lady Janet Museveni barks from every hill in Kampala. While in the past, Kampala used to have seven hills, today they are more than thirty. The woman, apart from a salary which she began earning in 2006 has no known source of income. How did she get the money to put in place all those estates? Finally, I have identified only four categories of the people in the NRM: the grand thieves, the opportunists, the frustrated and the ignorant. We can forgive those who are frustrated hence being pessimistic. And inevitably we shall forgive the ignorant for just like Jesus said "Father, forgive them because they don't know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34), the ignorant don't know what they are doing. To the rest, I leave you with the words of Edmund Burke who said that "The necessary condition for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing". Personally, I have told truth to power and thrown in a furnace, what have you done? For God and my country.