It is my pleasure to address you this morning as we launch the Uganda Human Rights Commission’s first Client Charter. As you are all aware, the Uganda Human Rights Commission is duty bound to protect and promote human rights in the Country and therefore puts its clients at the forefront in pursuit of this commitment. It is against this background that the Uganda Human Rights Commission formulated a Client Charter in a bid to improve service delivery and maintain our status as the best National Human Rights Institution not only in Africa but the world over.
This Client Charter which will be unveiled this morning is a social contract between the Uganda Human Rights Commission as a service provider and the recipients of its services.
The Charter spells out services we offer as an institution and highlights commitments and standards of delivery of services, which we believe our clients have a right to expect. The Charter also sets out feedback and complaints handling mechanisms on Uganda Human Rights Commission’s service delivery, in addition to giving a highlight of the service centers at which our services can be accessed. The objectives of this charter are to:
a) Inform our clients and stakeholders of the services UHRC offers.
b) Create awareness to the clients on their rights and obligations, expectations and the service commitments.
c) Provide an accountability framework for UHRC to its clients and stakeholders and;
d) Act as a tool for continuous performance improvement.
The Charter will enable the Uganda Human Rights Commission to perform its functions even much better than it has always done. These functions as you may know include, among others to (a) establish a continuing Programme of research, education and information to enhance respect of human rights; (b) educate and encourage the public to defend the Constitution at all times against all forms of abuse and violations; and (c) formulate, implement and oversee programmes intended to inculcate in the citizens of Uganda awareness of their civic responsibilities and an appreciation of their rights and obligations as free people. The Charter signifies our commitment client to serve our clients with a view of creating better understanding and enhancing our service delivery.
While executing our functions, we shall be guided by the following values and principles: Integrity, transparency, accountability, fairness, dignity of the person and Independence. We shall also exhibit Professionalism; non-discrimination, Responsiveness as well as Selflessness.
The following general standards will apply as we deliver services:
i) Our client shall be treated courteously and shall receive all services free of charge;
ii) Attend to our client within fifteen minutes (15) minutes of their arrival and advise them of the next appropriate step; and
iii) Treat all information obtained from or on behalf of our clients with utmost confidentiality.
This charter provides commitments to our clients on 9 strategic areas:
i. Complaints management
ii. Civic, Constitutional, Human Rights Education and Awareness
iii. Government compliance with human rights standards and laws
iv. Reports on the situation of human rights
v. UHRC capacity to deliver human rights services
vi. Resources management
vii. Visibility of UHRC services at National, regional and grassroots levels
viii. Strategic alliance and partnerships with key stakeholders in human rights
ix. Planning , budgeting, coordination, monitoring and evaluation
We commit ourselves to among others: (a)Register or refer allegations of complaints on human rights violations within 45 minutes ; (b) Commence an investigation within 14 days from receipt of a complaint; (c) Provide updates to clients on the status of their complaint files on a quarterly basis; d)Conduct regular and continuous civic education through media programs, human rights baraza, IEC materials, and magazines, (e) Conduct dialogues with owners and managers of business enterprises per regional office per annum; (f) Advocate for the domestication of pending international and regional human rights instruments; (g) Monitor the electoral process in the country ; h)Analyse and cause- to- be- known the status of State compliance with the Commission’s and treaty bodies’ recommendations and (i) Partner with Uganda Law Reform Commission to identify, review and recommend for repeal laws that do not meet human rights standards.
We shall Produce, submit to Parliament and disseminate the Annual Report on the situation of human rights by 30th April annually; (b) Increase the number of Regional Offices from 9 to 11 by 2015; (c)Be committed to a sound, effective and efficient financial management system in line with the Public Finance and Accountability Act and Regulations; (d)Carry out timely release of press statements and official positions on topical human rights issues; (e) Keep and update the Commission website: www.uhrc.ug regularly.
The Press fraternity is part of our external clients and as such, you, like others, have a right to (a) Access to free human rights services; (b) Access public information in accordance with the Access to Information Act; c)Be treated with respect;(d) Equality and non-discrimination;(e)Privacy and confidentiality; (f)Access to justice and Fair hearing. You should also be mindful of your obligations which include, among others to:
a) Respect all UHRC officials and treat them with courtesy, politeness, with non- abusive or nonthreatening language
b) Report any negative behaviour of UHRC officials
c) Provide appropriate, timely and quality goods and services
We welcome constructive criticism and feedback about our services. We also welcome suggestions on how we can improve service delivery. If you have a problem, suggestion, concern or complaint, you can use one of the mechanisms provided in this charter. In case of dissatisfaction with a response given on a query or concern raised on UHRC service delivery; there is a Complaint Appeal Mechanism in the Charter that you should follow.
We are committed and shall Monitor and evaluate the implementation of the Client Charter on an annual basis upon which Performance against the Charter’s commitments will be reported on to clients published.
If our current partnership is maintained a lot will be achieved in as far as human rights observance in Uganda is concerned.
Finally, I once again thank all of you for turning up. Kindly use this charter to follow up on services that the Commission provides you.
I thank you.
Med. S.K. Kaggwa
Chairperson, Uganda Human Rights Commission