The newly appointed Commissioner Dr. Patricia Achan Okiria was today Tuesday 26th March 2019 sworn in when she took her oath of office at a ceremony presided over by the Deputy Chief Justice Owiny-Dolo who stood in for the Chief Justice of Uganda. The ceremony which took place this morning in the Chief Justice’s Chambers at the High Court, Kampala, was coordinated by the Registrar of the High Court Ms. Ester Nambayo. To witness this important occasion was the Chairperson of UHRC Mr. Med S.K Kaggwa, Commissioner Meddie B. Mulumba, a team of UHRC managers and Dr. Okiria’s spouse.
Speaking at the function, the Deputy Chief Justice congratulated the UHRC for getting one more foot soldier to boost its efforts in carrying out its constitutional mandate. Noting the challenges faced by the UHRC in fulfilling its mandate, His Worship Owiny- Dollo said “bearing in mind that UHRC was born out of Uganda’s turbulent past and its mandate anchored in the our Constitution should provide the basis for it to perform its functions without fear or favour”.
He congratulated the newly appointed Commissioner Dr. Patricia Okiria but reminded her that this comes with the enormous responsibility that requires her to dispense justice through the UHRC Tribunals as provided by the Constitution.
Dr. Okiria in her remarks thanked H.E the President of the Republic of Uganda for appointing her Member of the Commission at the Uganda Human Rights Commission and giving her an opportunity to serve her country. “I am excited to come back home having worked at UHRC as a Legal Officer so many years ago.” She said she was optimistic that her new assignment at UHRC will be easy given that she will be working with people that she is already familiar with.
The new Commissioner expressed gratitude to the Deputy Chief Justice for presiding over her swearing-in ceremony. She also thanked the Chairperson of UHRC Mr. Med Kaggwa for fast tracking her appointment and warmly welcoming her to the Commission fold. While calling for unity and support from the Commission team and technical staff, Dr. Okiria pledged to apply all her energies and commitment to the betterment of the UHRC.
Welcoming the new Commissioner back home, the Chairperson Med S.K Kaggwa noted the urgent need for more Commissioners to be appointed to join the Commission in order to boost its manpower strength which currently stands at only four Commissioners. He underscored the need for adequate manpower at the level of Commissioners to preside over the UHRC Tribunal hearings through which the Commission provides legal redress to victims of human rights violations using its quasi-judicial function. Mr. Kaggwa observed that a fully constituted Commission will serve to reduce the case backlog at the tribunal. “There is also need to adhere to the Paris Principles that call for National Human Rights Institution (NHRIs) to ensure that there is gender balance of the Commissioners at policy and governance level”, he added, appealing to the appointing authority to put the principle into consideration.