The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Uganda (NCHRD-U) organized meeting with referral network members on July 11 with a theme “Building a supportive National Referral system for HRDs”.
The meeting attracted 35 participants including referral network members, focal persons, staff and facilitators of the sessions comprising of 15 women and 20 men.
Participants discussed the HRD protection referral system, uniform standards for referrals and tools for effective referrals. The participants also shared experiences about the HRD cases they had referred.
Dr Kenneth Bagonza, the medical coordinator at African Center for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (ACTV) who facilitated a session on standards and guidelines for referrals, defined a referral is an act of referring someone or something for consultation, review or further action.
In his presentation, he emphasized that to the participants that the primary purpose of the referral is to link HRDs with service providers hence the need for sufficient information such as identifying the needs of the HRDs, finding the most appropriate service to meet their needs and linking the HRDs to the most appropriate service provider for the required support. To achieve this, Dr Bagonza encouraged referral network members to always have to always identify the needs of HRDs, finding the most appropriate service to meet their needs and link them to the most appropriate service provider.
This session also presented an opportunity for referral network members to discuss the factors that impact on the effectiveness of a referral process including, perception, expertise at referral destinations, ease of making a referral and getting an appointment. It was unanimously agreed that confidentiality should be observed at all stages of the referral.
Dorothy Kiyai, the assistant protection officer at NCHRD-U encouraged participants to make use of the referral directory.
There was unanimous agreement that 48 hours are sufficient enough for a referral member to acknowledge receipt of an HRD case. Through presentations by different facilitators and experience sharing sessions, participants were enlightened on identifying true HRDs at risk, how to handle the cases and best effective ways of referring HRD cases.
The meeting also equipped the participants to understand better, the HRD protection referral system, standards of referrals and different tools for effective referrals.
Referral network members recommended that NCHRD-U should conduct capacity building for the members in records management and documentation, review the second draft of the MoU structure and content within two weeks from the time of the meeting and develop a bi annual newsletter on the referral network and improve communication by developing a Whatsapp group for the referral network members and regularly update available services for the HRDs.
Subsequently, NCHRD-U committed to review and update the MoU, regularly update the available services and follow up on referral network members to find out if they supported the HRD at risk.