Every 8th September, the world commemorates International Literacy day. This year’s commemorations will be amidst frustrations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In Uganda, the Government-instigated urgent total lockdown from late March onwards called off all activities that gather people - including closure of all educational institutions and centers across the country. In compliance with the directives from the Government and the Ministry of Health, the Refugee Law Project, School of Law, Makerere University immediately suspended all our thirteen English for Adults (EFA) Learning Centers in the rural and urban refugee communities.
Gender roles present a challenge for the English for Adult (EFA) class enrolment in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement, Kikuube district in Uganda. Women remain less involved in EFA classes because society continues to expect them to attend only to their homes and domestic chores whereas men are seen as the sole bread winners and the heads of families in Kyangwali. This results in a gap between men and women of certain tribes from the refugee community when it comes to accessing services, including English for Adult classes.
The refugee problem remains a global challenge with over 25.9 & 3.5 million refugees and asylum seekers respectively (António Vitorino, 2020). Out of which, over 52% are under 18 years of age. This has strained economies of various host countries in the world. Refugees flee from their countries of origin due to conflicts, persecution and disaster to seek refuge in countries they consider to be secure.
Uganda is currently host to 1,411,098 refugees and asylum seekers from different countries in the Great Lakes region (UNHCR, 2020). The majority come from South Sudan (873,741), Democratic Republic of Congo (409,882), Burundi (48,119), Somalia (4,018) and Rwanda (17,383). Other nationalities account for 21,792 refugees and asylum seekers. Many more continue coming with about 199 received daily. They are received by Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) in Uganda and supported by UNHCR in aspects of livelihood, education and protections among others. Despite the support given, that given in the name of livelihoods has been and continues to be insufficient to the perceived needs of asylum seekers and refugees. Therefore, empowering forced migrants to become self-reliant is paramount to supplement on the assistance provided by OPM, UNHCR and other state and non-state actors.
The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child defines a child as a person under the age of 18 years. Children are considered vulnerable persons that attract special protection from not only the State and its organs but also from its citizens. The Uganda Refugee Response Plan January 2019-December 2020 indicates that children represent 60% of the refugees and asylum seekers in Uganda. In refugee hosting areas there are many children who have been forced to seek refuge, some along with their parents, others unaccompanied or separated from their parents or guardians. In the process of seeking asylum, some of these children face physical, sexual, gender violence and psychological trauma. What, though, happens to those who enter into conflict with the law? I want to share my own encounters, as a lawyer working with refugees and their hosts, with Uganda’s treatment of children in conflict with the law.
As the world continues to suffer diverse conflicts and disasters, forced migration is increasing. Today there are over 70.8 million forced migrants, the highest number ever recorded. Of these, 29.4 million are refugees and asylum seeker who have fled their home countries due to conflicts, war and discrimination (UNHCR (2020)). Africa alone toils with more than 6.8 million. Even as it grapples with the legacies of numerous internal conflicts which have left millions of people displaced, disempowered and destabilized, Uganda now also hosts over 1.4 million refugees, the third largest refugee population in the world, and the largest on the continent.
Provision of psychosocial counselling in detention is vital in enabling inmates cope up positively with mental health problems. In my interaction with mothers living with their children in prisons in western Uganda, they shared the ordeal under which children are raised. From their expression, the challenges being faced indicate a huge gap in children’s general wellbeing in detention. Child protection emphasises “reducing risks to children’s holistic well-being, making children’s rights a reality, and creating an enabling environment that supports children’s positive
Forced migration continues to be a global challenge with over 70.8 million people forcibly displaced, of which 29.4 million are refugees and asylum seekers. They have fled their homeland seeking asylum due to wars/conflicts, persecution, calamities and other social unrests. This has not spared any continent, and Africa alone is struggling with over 5.6 million. Uganda is quoted by the UNHCR June 2019 Uganda comprehensive refugee response portal to be hosting 1,293,582 refugees and asylum seekers with majority from South Sudan (833,785) Democratic republic of Congo (353,379) and Burundi (41,322) among others. How they are hosted and where depends on the laws, policies and practices of the host
How refugees as well as other suspects get stuck on remand in Uganda’s prisons
As in many similar jurisdictions, and in line with internationally ratified instruments,1 Chapter 4 of Uganda’s 1995 Constitution provides clear protections for the rights of pre-trial detainees. Firstly, it is the duty of the State to bring the suspect to justice without delay and to produce the suspect before a competent court within 48 hours.2 Secondly, Article 28 (3) (a) of Uganda’s 1995 Constitution provides for presumption of innocence until proven guilty by a competent court. Thirdly, Article 28 (1) provides an accused person the right to a fair and speedy trial. This is echoed in Article 126 (2) (b) which provides that justice shall not be delayed, though it is silent on what amounts to a ‘speedy trial’.
When I first started working at Refugee Law Project, an outreach project of the School of Law Makerere University, I perhaps naively assumed that these protections
By Akullu Barbra (Published 21st March 2018)
The world, recently commemorated another International Women’s Day. It is an important day around which to take stock of achievements towards gender equality, as well as the challenges that continue to confront women and girls worldwide. This year’s commemoration once again unveiled the need to advance the discussion on working with men and boys to end violence against women and girls. While at the national level, the Ministry of Health has promoted the need to engage men and boys in family planning programmes and ante-natal care (a model that has realized relative successes), the numerous events to stand with and support women and girls that were organized on Women’s Day by government and non-governmental actors, left a number of critical issues to ponder about.