We live in challenging times. While the movement for legal empowerment is stronger than ever, so are the forces working to stymie access to justice across the globe. Today, we have a unique opportunity to change that, by making justice for all a central issue for world leaders gathered at the UN General Assembly. We need your help to #TipTheScales.
Ten years ago, the UN Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor released a landmark report finding that “at least four billion people are excluded from the rule of law.” The Commission, on which I was an Affiliate Expert, identified legal empowerment as an essential solution for closing the justice gap.
Over the last decade, and on every continent on the planet, community paralegals have put the power of law in people’s hands, turning legal empowerment into a global force.
In 2015, our movement succeeded in having justice included in the Sustainable Development Goals. This was a major shift in global thinking, with leaders from 193 countries committing to making “access to justice for all” a reality.
Yet, despite many promising victories, community paralegals and other grassroots justice defenders remain grossly underfunded and increasingly under attack.
People like Musa Usman Ndamba, a Global Legal Empowerment Network member and land rights activist from Cameroon. In May, Musa was sentenced to six months in prison based on claims of defamation from a wealthy businessman, which many in our community believe was retribution for Musa’s work exposing corrupt land deals. His imprisonment came after five years of judicial harassment, during which the court adjourned his hearings over 55 times.
Musa’s case is emblematic of how justice defenders are increasingly under threat of harassment, imprisonment, and violence.
Adding to these challenges is a lack of funding for the work of legal empowerment. In a recent survey of the Global Legal Empowerment Network, 67% of respondents noted that they’ll have to make cuts or will not be able to operate in the coming year due to funding concerns.
In 2015, when justice was included in the Sustainable Development Goals, not one country pledged a penny to finance access to justice. In fact, donor funding for justice has actually declined by 40% over the last four years.
As long as justice defenders are thwarted in this way, with threats increasing and funding decreasing, injustice will remain the norm for billions of people across the globe.
To overcome these odds, #JusticeForAll is a global campaign mobilizing to demand funding and protection for grassroots justice defenders. Sign the petition today and we’ll deliver our collective demands to world leaders at the UN General Assembly.
In recognition of the 10-year anniversary of the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, we are also launching10 Days of Local Action. From September 25 to October 6, grassroots campaign partners are organizing actions to advance financing and protection for grassroots justice defenders. Check out this Action Pack to see how you can join these efforts and organize an event in your community.
The people that make up our movement give me hope. Ten years ago, the Commission wrote, “Democracy and legal empowerment are kindred spirits.” I believe it. Our movement believes it. It’s time we made world leaders believe it too.
Vivek, Stacey, Coco, Abby, and the entire team supporting the Global Legal Empowerment Network
The people of Kikuube have vowed not elect corrupt leaders who promote discrimination and tribal sentiments as a means of developing the district. This was during the Citizen Coalition For electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) consultative dialogue ahead of the new district elections. The consultative meeting started with a prayer from Reverend Joseph Byabakube.
CCEDU is in Kikuube to raise awareness on the need to elect leaders that will represent the needs of the people of kikuube.
“ For long Bunyoro has been divided along tribal and land matters and has had poor service delivery, “ Said Alex Byensi former councillor for Kabwooya sub-county and chairperson Elder’s Forum Kikuube District.
Byensi decried political interference in the administration of Kikube as one of the setbacks that the new leaders when elected to office must address.
Byensi also talked about the challenge of the Bafuliki whom he said had grabbed the land of the local Banyoro and this has rendered them landless in their home area. He said the new leadership should consider the issue of land as critical to the people of Kikuube.
However, Reverend John Kitalibara , Executive Director Health Communities Uganda said Bunyoro has not developed at the required pace because of the background mentality of corrupt, dishonest and unfaithful leaders. “We have the knowledge and ability to solve our problems as Bunyoro if we drop evil attitudes of not wishing other people well,” he said.
Rev. Kitalibara advised the citizens in the Baraza to embrace hardwork if Bunyoror and specifically Kikuube is to move forward.
Gerald Baleke from the Bunyoro Kindgdom – Kiziramfumbi sub-county urged the people to be careful about the leaders they will choose for the new district if they want to move Kikuube into a new development era. He said the leadership should espouse skills of tolerance , promote peace because the Banyoro have not lived in peace with each other due to intrigue.
Boniface Byaruhanga the speaker of Kizirafumbi sub-county said “ We the Banyoro hate each other and wish each other bad which is a backward thinking that has locked our potential. We need to start working together as a united force for development if we are to benefit from the new district of Kikuube.”
Teddy Barungi the Vice chairperson LCIII Kiziramfumbi said we need a Kikuube district which is together, working for development not tearing each other down with politics, land and oil issues.
The citizens and local leaders were participating in a citizen dialogue organised by CCEDU to raise consciousness and awareness on the creation of a new district and promote citizen participation in policy and leadership processes. Citizens should always be prioritised in issues of governance because it is them that elect leaders to deliver services that will develop their areas. CCEDU believes in engaging citizens in decision making and governance as one of the key ways of promoting progressive electoral democracy.
The events that marred the Arua Municipality by election before and after are argued to be most regrettable in the history of Ugandan elections.
Members of parliament Francis Zaake and Robert Kyagulanyi who are reported to be in critical health state are among the over 30 people that were savagely arrested in Arua on 13th August 2018.
Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine who is facing treason charges was on Monday granted bail by Gulu High Court that was presided over by Justice Stephen Mubiru.
Laying in excruciating pain on his sick bed at Rubaga Hospital, Kyadondo East MP Robert KYAGULANYI sentamu narrated his ordeal by security operatives on the night of 13th in Arua municipality.
"The my nose was broken. I was given four injections ,I hope they are not toxic . However I have so much pain in the back”, Kyagulanyi said.
Showing some of his physical injuries on the legs, hands and behind the ear that appear to be drying up, Bobi wine said his tormentors beat him up with a metallic object all over his body that saw him walk on crutches.
“My back bone was affected, the doctor said my discs were dislocated but assured me that something can be done”, Kyagulanyi said.
While paying a courtesy visit to the sick legislator, Dr. Livingstone Sewanyana , the Executive Director Foundation for Human Rights Initiative condemned the acts of torture by the security operatives against the members of parliament.
“Why is it that when they are being tortured , that’s when they need human rights? , We are going to expose those who inhumanely beat up these people and they will be held accountable”, Sewanyana said.
The arrest and dentition of Kyagulanyi came with protests in the different parts of the country and abroad seeking for the freedom of the then detained legislator.
Initially, Kyagulanyi was charged with illegal possession of firearms and ammunition in a military court while the other three MPs were detained and charged with treason on August 16 along with 31 other Ugandans.
After being held under military detention for 10 days, the military court presided over by Lt. Gen Andrew Gutti dropped the charges but he was immediately re-arrested by police and charged with treason.
In a statement released by President Museveni , he referred to media reports about Bobi Wine as “Fake News” adding that the Kyadondo East MP was in good health.
“I decided to check with Army doctors because, being a disciplined Army, UPDF doctors always take precautions in such situations. Bobi Wine had already been seen by doctors in Arua, Gulu and Kampala. He has no head or chest injuries or bone fractures, they informed me”, a section of the statement read.
The Arua Municipality by election is the third parliamentary by-election President Museveni’s NRM party has lost and in all the three by elections(Bugiri , Jinja and Arua), it can be argued that Kyagulanyi played a significant role.
By Patience Ndinawe
Note by the Secretariat
The Secretariat has the honour to transmit to the Human Rights Council the report of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Livingstone Sewanyana, prepared in accordance with Council resolution 36/4.
In the present report, the first by the present mandate holder, the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order sets out his preliminary views and intended scope of work, highlighting the vision and priorities to be addressed within the framework of the mandate as set forth in Human Rights Council resolution 18/6 and subsequent resolutions on the subject, the latest of which is resolution 36/4.
1. The present report of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order is submitted to the Human Rights Council in accordance with Council resolution 18/6 and subsequent resolutions 21/9, 25/15, 27/9, 30/29, 33/3 and 36/4 and is the first report of the current mandate holder since his appointment by the Council at its thirty-seventh session. The Independent Expert is requested to report regularly to the Council and to the General Assembly, pursuant to resolution 18/6 and paragraphs 11 and 12 of resolution 36/4.
2. The Independent Expert recalls that, in resolution 18/6 establishing the mandate, the Council broadly called for an international order in which people could enjoy the rights of international solidarity, development and self-determination; exercise effective sovereignty over their natural wealth and resources; freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development; have equal opportunity to participate in regional and international decisionmaking; and have a shared responsibility to address threats to international peace and security. As noted by the previous mandate holder (A/HRC/21/45 and Corr.1), relevant to resolution 18/6 are General Assembly resolutions 3201 (S-VI) on the Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order, 2625 (XXV) on the Declaration of Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and 65/223 on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.
3. The mandate calls for a holistic approach to the implementation of human rights, with due regard to the universality, indivisibility, interdependence and inalienability of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, and thus enjoins all stakeholders, including States and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, to cooperate to realize the aspirations expressed in the Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Following the Electoral Commission's (EC) statement on the Integrity of the National Voters' Register (released on August 28th 2018), the Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) acknowledges EC's commitment to investigate claims around the integrity of the national voters’ register.
The EC is however in a difficult place to demonstrably investigate itself. Criticisms around the integrity of the national voters’ register indicate that the EC is in the dock over laxity in executing its Constitutional mandate.
The integrity, impartiality and objectivity of investigations conducted by the EC itself on this matter would potentially be compromised and would not offer much confidence to the Public.
We therefore call for comprehensive and independent investigations into claims of a compromised national voters’ register among other electoral malpractices. The findings of which, should be made public to relevant stakeholders and used as basis to improve the conduct of future elections.
Crispin Kaheru, Coordinator, CCEDU