The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) adds its voice to those of other concerned Ugandans to condemn in the strongest terms possible the barbaric and despicable act by Jolly Tumuhiirwe, the house maid who meted violence and torture against an innocent one and a half year-old baby belonging to Eric Kamanzi and Angella Mbabazi at their home in Naalya, a Kampala suburb. The horrific video footage which was first circulated last Friday evening on social media and television and later other details published in newspapers early this week, has to say the least left us at the Uganda Human Rights Commission, the country and the entire globe in total shock and astounded.
As a national human rights institution mandated to protect and promote human rights in country, the Uganda Human Rights Commission regrettably notes that the act of unleashing such violence against the baby reported to be Arnella Kamanzi by the house maid, has violated a fundamental non derogable right of the baby that prohibits a person from being subjected to any form of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment as laid down in Article 24 of the Constitution of Uganda. Additionally, the act of violence against the baby witnessed in the footage contravenes other laid down regional and international human rights standards that Uganda is party to.
The Uganda Human Rights Commission further notes that the actions of the housemaid as depicted in the footage violate and have far reaching consequences on relevant laws in Uganda including the Penal Code Act Cap 204, the Children’s Act 1997 and the recently enacted Prevention and Prohibition Act of 2012. The UHRC is particularly perturbed because the reported heinous acts were meted against a child who falls in category of vulnerable persons of society who should instead be protected by all.
The Uganda Human Rights Commission notes that due process to bring this housemaid to justice has commenced and commends all the justice, law and order sector institutions directly involved in this process for their fast response. The UHRC however urgently calls for the following interventions:
- the judiciary should fast track the due process to ensure an expeditious trial as well as a commensurate punishment to the errant housemaid which will act as a deterrent measure;
- the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development should urgently develop regulations for housemaids and work with the Uganda Police to enforce a mechanism for vetting and monitoring them;
- the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development should work with partners to urgently provide psycho-social support to the baby who was abused and her parents to overcome the trauma;
- police and other relevant institutions should expedite the investigation process for background checks on the house maid to establish the root cause of her strange behaviour or motive if any;
- Parliament should expedite amendment of the Children’s Act (1997) to address the current emerging challenges in society;
- police should step up community policing programs and enhance sensitization of communities to report crime or suspected crime;
- members of the public should increase their vigilance by widely engaging in citizen journalism and exposing acts of violence and gross human rights violations in their communities and should avoid covering up criminals even when they are relatives
Additionally, the Uganda Human Rights (UHRC) has been following events that led to the motor accident that resulted into the tragic death of Ryan Ssemaganda; a two-year old baby belonging to a one Madinah Namutebi, a vendor who had been apprehended by KCCA law enforcement officers last week. The UHRC condemns the decision of the law enforcement officers and other court officials to deny the mother access to her baby while in court. The decision to bar the mother from accessing her baby is a clear manifestation of violation of the rights of the child and is regrettable.
The Uganda Human Rights Commission has severally raised its concerns over the methods of work of the KCCA Law Enforcement officers which in our view has to a large extent not taken into consideration the human rights concerns of the victims. We have witnessed cases of high handedness on the part of the KCCA law enforcement officers, which has in some cases resulted into loss of property, livelihood and general mayhem.
Whereas the Uganda Human Rights Commission recognizes the role of the KCCA law enforcement unit in ensuring that the law is respected, it is our strong view that this should not be a license for them to violate the rights of the citizens. Law enforcement should be done with a human face and the KCCA law enforcement officers should be mindful of their duty to respect and protect the rights of the victims.
In conclusion therefore, the Uganda Human Rights Commission calls upon all concerned to uphold the rule of law and for all citizens to endeavor to fulfill our duties and obligations in a bid to achieve the protection and promotion of human rights in our country.
For God and My Country
Member of the Commission