Tuesday, December 13, 2011
OTAFIIRE SHOULD PREACH TO NRM HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSERS
Mr Kaggwa (L) and Gen. Otafiire share points during the rights day celebrations on Friday. PHOTO BY STEPHEN OTAGE
By Stephen Otage
Posted Monday, December 12 2011 at 00:00
The Justice minister says people have a right to demonstrate and the police should respect that, but cautions against causing chaos.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Kahinda Otafiire has appealed to the police to exercise restraint while handling protesters, saying the right to demonstrate is enshrined in the Constitution.
“The Constitution allows people to protest and the people have a duty to know the limit of their right to protest,” Maj. Gen. Otafiire said. However, he cautioned that government will not tolerate trouble makers during protests. He said: “Causing disorder in public during protests tantamounts to chaos; we can’t entertain that.” He was speaking during the International Human Rights Day celebrations in Kampala at the weekend.
Gen. Otafiire also called on the public not to be anxious over the Public Order Management Bill, which he said is subject to House debate. “This is a Bill about public order management. Have you heard of Otafiire or Museveni management Bill? People should wait until Parliament debates it,” he said.
Recent rights reports have condemned the manner in which police handle protests in the wake of the walk-to-work protests. Especially condemned for high-handedness and other forms of rights abuses has been the Rapid Response Unit (RRU), which the Force disbanded last week.
The Uganda Human Rights Commission chairperson, Mr Med Kaggwa, welcomed the move by the police but said there is much more to be done to change the tide of rights abuses. “It is not enough to disband RRU. The perpetrators of human rights violations must be brought to book,” Mr Kaggwa said.
This year’s celebrations encouraged the use of social media to champion the fight for human rights. At the celebrations, Daily Monitor’s senior reporter Tabu Butagira was recognised for his consistent coverage of human rights issues in the country.
Ms Birgit Gerstenberg, the UN human rights representative in Uganda, said in 2011, the idea of power wielded by mighty institutions shifted to the ordinary people. “You can now guarantee that human rights events will be tweeted, posted on Facebook, broadcast on Youtube, uploaded on the Internet. Dissemination and access to information can no longer be monopolised,” Ms Gerstenberg said.