“No person should be held or detained in secret, unacknowledged or incommunicado” (Pearl of Blood, 1994).
As tomorrow is the “Liberation Day” or the “NRM Day” in the Republic of Uganda. As the President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM) celebrates their takeover of Kampala on the 26th January 1986. Tomorrow will be 35 years since that happened.
Still, there is a lot of misgivings in the years of reign during the NRA/M era. The NRM have left a lot of thing to aspire too. For instance the Uganda Commission of Inquiry into the Violation of Human Rights dropped a Summary of the Report – “Pearl of Blood” in October 1994. This report have maybe been left in drawer and forgotten. However, I will indulge you in some vital parts of this. Which the current day regime have totally forgotten.
The report in question is looking into the mischief and violence by the previous regimes. That in itself is a good thing and was helpful to give insights into what the predecessors did. Nevertheless, I am looking into the things the NRA/M have forgotten. I am looking into specific forgotten passages of Chapter 13. Which states significant recommendations… that the NRM never adhered too or haven’t really implemented.
First advice: “Any person who is proved to have violated human rights in the past or will have been convicted of human rights offences should be barred from holding any political, public or civic office” (Pearl of Blood, 1994).
This here should be a given, but we know that Police Officers, Law Enforcement, Soldiers, Generals, High Ranking Officials have been associated or acted with indifference when they have violated human rights in the Republic. The NRA/M have deliberately even promoted officials and secured their passage, if they are doing it on command. Therefore, this recommendation is a stark warning. That the current regime doesn’t care about.
Second advice: “Massive violations of human rights in Uganda have occurred partly because of personalization of powers of the state by Presidents and other leaders. Personal interest became identical with public interest. Consequently, it was difficult to differentiate the state from the individual who was the President” (…) “The Commission therefore recommended for:
(a) separation of powers with checks and balances between the executive, legislative, and judicial aim s of government.
(b) impeachment of Presidents for constitutional and other offences while in office.
(c) a system of peaceful change of Presidents and governments through regular and fair elections.
(d) prohibition of over-staying by Presidents in office after their terms have expired.” (Pearl of Blood, 1994).
This here advice is directed at the President of current day. Who is in-charge and doing just that. It is all the personal interests of the President and his cronies. All parts of government awaits his orders and his words. That is why Gen. Museveni is repeating the human rights violations of the past. As he has become the personalization of the state.
What is also striking isn’t the balance of powers. That should be true, but these are all appointees of the President and loyal to him. The arms of government is working in-coordination with the President on his behest. The President will never be impeached as it would be a death-sentence and “treason” to even consider that.
The (c) and (d) is epic these days. As we know there is no “free and fair” elections in the Republic. The current President has also revised any law to ensure that he can overstay. Ensuring that his “terms” never expires and securing that he is overstaying in office. These two recommendations have been trashed in favour of one man.
Third advice: “One of the major factors which contributed to violation of human rights in Uganda is intolerance” (…) “constitutional and legal prohibition of any person or authority from restricting the exercise of the peoples rights and freedom of assembly in meetings, rallies or other gatherings and of expression and protest, and such prohibition or interference should be made a criminal offence” (Pearl of Blood, 1994).
This here has been an issue that has persisted in the reign of Museveni. The violation of human rights to assemble and gather has been a consistent issue. The state have practically made it impossible or illegal for opposition to gather outside their headquarters. The state have banned protests, demonstrations, rallies and concerts, all in favour of “law and public order”. Which is striking, as the advice here was adhere to other principals and also show tolerance to others. That is something the NRA/M haven’t coped with or had the capacity to do. That is why they have interfered, blocked and haunted the opposition with all sorts of laws, regulations and justifications to stop them from assembling. The NRM have even blocked prayers from happening. So, they have never intended to listen to this particular advice either.
Fourth advice: “it is imperative that in order to encourage tolerance and unity, the system of elections and government in which the winner takes all should be legally discouraged” (Pearl of Blood, 1994).
This here has been commented on before. As the state is personification of Museveni now. He has the whole state and they are all listening to his whims. The system is built in his favour. So as “victor” in any elections. The old man does get it all and there is no separation of powers either. This advice has been discarded too.
Fifth advice: “intelligence organizations should never be personalised, set and/or tolerated for the purpose of maintaining particular regimes or Leaders in power. They should not be partisan in politics of Uganda. Intelligence organizations should never be used for witch hunting or for political, ethnic, religious, gender, social or economic persecution or harassment” (Pearl of Blood, 1994).
Another one where the state have made plenty of entities all run by the men of the President. All in favour of his causes and work. Not looking for criminals, but monitoring and surveillance of opposition members, activists and human rights activists too. Therefore, this one has been overlooked as well. That is why ISO, CMI; ESO and other entities are working without concern of violating human rights.
Sixth advice: “No person should be detained or imprisoned without trial by and before independent and impartial courts of law whether there is a state of emergency or not. No person should be arrested detained or imprisoned except in respect of criminal offences known to the law” (Pearl of Blood, 1994).
This sort of idea and legal remedy is used so much these days. That the ideal of it seems to be forgotten. If you are associated with the opposition. It is justified to abduct, arrest and torture them without court orders or criminal charges. Not even thinking of taking the “culprit” or “criminal” to court, but without justice served take it all into the hands of the Law Enforcement and silence the opposition on the spot.
Seventh advice: “Murder of individuals, mass murders, arbitrary deprivation of life or extra judicial executions is a violation of the right to life. The Commission has found that such atrocities were committed by members of the military, intelligence organisations, certain Police Units, party activists, etc.” (….) “Obedience to superior orders should never be a defence to charges of crimes of murder, torture and others that violate human rights. Detention of civilians in military barracks, or establishments should be prohibited by law and offenders thereof severely punished” (Pearl of Blood, 1994).
Here is a sad part. That this regime doesn’t value life or the lives of anyone. They can easily stop doing these things, but they are continuing to do so. These sort of activity should have ceased, but we do know they continue to do so. The regime doesn’t value life… and that is evident with concern of opposition activists, members and the ones who is close to demonstrations or convoys of the opposition. This is proven and sadly activity the state continues with.
Eight advice: “Mechanisms for making public leaders and officials transparent in and accountable for their conduct performance or work will keep in check the temptation to act in breach of the law or in abuse of their powers or offices” (Pearl of Blood, 1994).
This here hasn’t been listened too. The Cabinet Members, the ones appointed and the ones n close association of the President can get away with anything. There will be some headlines, but the ones looting, stealing and breaching laws can a get away with it. That is why there is no law for the ones in close associate of the President. They are above the law, because the “high above” is shielding them.
I think this is enough and proves how little the NRM have cared. They have had time to fix these things. However, the state and General Museveni haven’t cared. He has had the sole power and enjoyed all the perks. That is why there is no sanctions or punishment for him. He can get away with all these violations of human rights. This should worry, but it shows what sort of authority and power he does have. As this report is old and from 1994, but it’s viable today. Peace.