The Principal Judge of the High Court;
Members of the Commission;
The President of the Uganda Law Society;
Representatives of academia;
Representatives of Security agencies and Organisations;
Representatives of Civil Society;
Representatives of the Media;
Ladies and gentlemen
It gives me great pleasure to address you this day as we commemorate the promulgation of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda. On behalf of the Uganda Human Rights Commission and on my own behalf, I welcome you all.
As you are aware, the Commission is constitutionally mandated under Article 52 to protect and promote human rights in Uganda. This is a broad mandate that includes creating awareness, monitoring and reporting on the human rights situation in the country as well as resolving complaints of human rights violations. Specifically related to commemoration of the Constitution Day, the Commission also has a function to educate the public on the Constitution and encourage them to defend it at all times. Article 52 (1) (e) enjoins the Commission to “create and sustain within society the awareness of the provisions of this Constitution as the fundamental law of the people of Uganda;” and under Article 52 (1)(f) provides for the function “to educate and encourage the public to defend this Constitution at all times against all forms of abuse and violation.”
As part of the Commission’s strategy on constitution education, it is our tradition to implement activities to commemorate the promulgation of the Constitution of Uganda on 8th October 1995. This is in recognition of the critical importance of the Constitution as the supreme law of Uganda. It is also an acknowledgement of the country’s hope that Uganda promulgated a highly consultative Constitution to set it off on the road to constitutionalism, away from its history of political turmoil and dictatorships.
It is in this spirit that the Commission has been implementing a series of constitution education activities, the climax of which will be a National Dialogue on the sovereignty of the people on Friday 5th October 2018. Today’s procession and the discussions are part of the activities that have been designed for each of us and our respective institutions and communities to re-commit ourselves to enhancing awareness, promotion and defence of the Constitution of Uganda.
Constitutionalism is not just the adoption of a document or fundamental principles as the guiding rules by which a given country is governed; but it is the widespread willingness and readiness on the part of those who govern and those that are governed to abide by both the letter and the spirit of the fundamental laws. Constitutionalism therefore implies both a political reality of government limited by law; and a psychological and social disposition on the part of citizens to be limited and bound by law. In view of this, it is clear that respect for the Constitution is the foundation of democracy, good governance, human rights observance and the rule of law, all of which are closely interlinked.
A culture of constitutionalism will enhance rule of law in Uganda and in effect, result in the overall institutional effectiveness, transparency and accountability in the management of public affairs as well as sustainable economic growth, investment, respect for human dignity, peace and security.
As the theme of today’s Constitution Day commemoration activities indicates, the responsibility to uphold the rule of law, constitutionalism and human rights lies with each one of us. Infact, Chapter One of the Constitution of Uganda which provides for sovereignty of the people; supremacy of the Constitution; defence of the Constitution; and promotion of public awareness of the Constitution clearly shows the responsibility of all stakeholders including the State and its organs, the people in government leadership and all the citizens of Uganda. It is not by accident that these responsibilities are referred to in many other provisions of the Constitution such as those providing for the duties of a citizen. As we commemorate the Constitution Day therefore, I urge all Ugandans to adhere to the principles and tenets of the rule of law and constitutionalism which are the cornerstone of sustainable development in this nation.
I thank the Government of Uganda for supporting today’s commemoration activities. My appeal to Government is to enhance the availability and access to the Constitution by all people in Uganda; particularly to implement the constitutional requirement to translate it into local languages and disseminate it widely. In the spirit of leaving no one behind as the current development agenda requires, in doing the translation, special attention should also be paid to persons with visual impairments.
In conclusion, I wish to reiterate the Uganda Human Rights Commission’s commitment to fulfilling its constitutional mandate to educate the public on the Constitution and encourage them to defend it at all times. I also urge every stakeholder to recommit to promotion of rule of law and constitutionalism in Uganda.
For God and My Country!
Let me now take the honour to invite our Chief Walker, the Principal Judge, Justice Yorokamu Bamwine to address us.