The Chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), Mr. S.K Kaggwa in his capacity as Commissioner/Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Places of Detention at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, on Friday 8th August 2014 launched Guidelines on Conditions of Arrest, Police Custody and Pre-Trial Detention in Uganda. This followed the adoption of similar guidelines by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights during its 55th Ordinary Session in May 2014 in Luanda, Angola, code named the Luanda Guidelines. The Luanda Guidelines were designed to assist States to implement their obligations under the African Charter in the pre-trial detention context.
The launch of the Ugandan Guidelines that took place at Imperial Royale Hotel, Kampala was a joint initiative between the Uganda Human Rights Commission and the Africa Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF) of South Africa, crowned a five-day joint training workshop for UHRC staff.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Med S.K Kaggwa said that the report makes a number of recommendations about strengthening oversight and accountability of the pre-trial environment, reviewing the legislative framework and commensurate practice in Uganda, and identified opportunities to utilize regional and international mechanisms to address pre-trial detention issues.
Welcoming the guidelines for Uganda, the UHRC Commissioner Stephen Basaliza who was one of the participants pointed out concerns of long stay on remand for suspected petty and capital offenders and expressed optimism that the new guidelines will help to address such anomalies. On the other hand, Commercial Court Judge David Wangutusi who was also in attendance called for the promotion of alternative dispute resolution methods, to reduce the high population in Ugandan prisons.
The African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF) in collaboration with the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) published the report titled ‘Pre-Trial Detention in Uganda’ in 2012. The report highlights the domestic legal framework that generally reflects human rights norms for pre-trial detention and the implementation by Ugandan law enforcement of procedural safeguards for persons under arrest and in detention which were found to be generally weak. The report is based on Article 45(1) (b) of the African Charter which gives the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights mandate to formulate principles and guidelines to address human rights concerns on which African Governments can base their legislation.
The African Policing and Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF) which is based in Cape Town, South Africa is a network of African policing practitioners from state and non-state institutions. It is mandated to promote and protect human and people’s rights under the African Charter on Human and people’s rights.