National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders Uganda (NCHRD-U) conducted a fact finding mission to assess the situation of human rights defenders in Karamoja subregion. The mission was conducted between June 12th to 16th 2017.

To understand the situation of HRDs better, NCHRD-U team met and discussed with among others, Mr. Emmanuel B. Momoh, the team leader, United Nations Human Rights field office in Moroto.

The NCHRDU team also discussed with Mr. Otim Paul, the Senior Human Rights Officer at Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), Moroto regional office.

Otim noted that a number HRDs fear to testify in courts when there are cases of human rights violations because of the threats they get from the perpetrators.

“HRDs can easily speak against violation of children and other rights, but when it comes to testifying in court, they are reserved,” Mr. Otim stated.

Otim added that other people fear to speak out openly although the trend is changing.

“People fear to openly complain, it’s just of recent that people have got the courage to report and the situation of HRDs has improved” Mr. Otim says.

Otim attributes this to the change of mindset of security personnel in Karamoja region who have received training from UHRC.

Politicians interfering

Apart from hesitation by witnesses to testify against abusers of HRD rights, there is political interference which is a big challenge, according to a human rights defender who preferred not to be named.

“I sometimes get threatened but I know I am doing the right thing. I am not afraid because I am familiar with reporting pathways after a training I received from NCHRD-U,” said the HRD.

Mr. Omoding Richard, another HRD in Karamoja sub region praised the role of NCHRD-U in capacity building of HRDs.

“We have used acquired knowledge from capacity building workshops organized by NCHRD-U to better our skills in handling issues where the rights of HRDs are violated”, Mr. Omoding says.

Mr Aporu Jean Mark a member of the NCHRDU steering committee and the sub regional focal person for Karamoja region (Thematic area-Pastoralist) appreciated the work of NCHRDU in building capacity of HRDs although he added that more trainings are needed to further empower HRDs to overcome threats.

“We appreciate the work of NCHRD-U in empowering HRDs in Karamoja sub region although there is need for more periodic trainings for HRDs,” says.