Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) held a one-day sensitization workshop for its members about the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR). This workshop came just a few days before the October session on the same in Banjul-Gambia in West Africa.
Through its three year human rights program dubbed “Know Your Rights”, Sexual Minorities Uganda has been able to help in the process of simplifying local and international instruments since most of these use technical language that complicates comprehension.
The aim of this project that commenced this year is to equip the Ugandan LGBTI community with knowledge about their basic rights as Ugandan citizens irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. SMUG has also published a human rights handbook to help community members understand their entitlements like other nationals.
The ACHPR workshop kicked off with a safety debrief from the Chairperson of the national LGBTI security committee Sandra Ntebi who emphasized the need for unity and vigilance to curtail the skyrocketing cases of blackmail in the Ugandan gender and sexual minority community.
Ntebi noted that the high rate of blackmail cases has been a result of competition for funding which has drained the passion that was the core foundation of this movement. Ntebi also raised the Pride 2016 hijack as well as well as the statements from the Ethics and Integrity Minister; he highlighted the need not to take these for granted and encouraged participants to always have their personal security measures at hand.
Pepe Julian Onziema the Programs Director at SMUG who has represented the Ugandan LGBTI community at various ACHPR sessions was the chief facilitator and he shared his vast experience while attending these sittings. He noted that it was key to know our allies and to always find strategies on how to convince those still opposed to sexual and gender minorities.
Participants urged SMUG to invest in mentorship programs for fresh and potential activists to further grow the capacity of the movement. Pepe noted that limited resources have always hampered this plan but it is something SMUG continues to look into.
Richard Lusimbo, SMUG’s Research and Documentation officer who will also be attending this year’s ACHPR sitting read the report about human rights violations that was presented at the October ACHPR sessions in Banjul. Violations against LGBTI persons across the African continent were noted and recommendations were made to the respective stake holders to help end the degrading treatment of sexual minorities.
In the same workshop, Pepe sensitized the participants about Resolution 275 or #Res275 that was adopted at the 55th Ordinary session of the African commission on Human Rights and People’s Rights in Luanda, Angola, 28th April to 12th May 2014. This resolution highlights the protection against violence and other human rights violation against persons on the basis of their real or imputed sexual orientation or gender identity.
Frank Mugisha the Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda emphasized that they will keep sensitizing the masses about resolution 275 ; he also noted that SMUG would introduce the ‘Know your Rights’ campaign to the media as well as other l advocacy programs.
Samuel Ganafa the Board Chairman for Sexual Minorities Uganda in his closing remarks commended the SMUG secretariat and the improvement made over the last couple of years.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) is a quasi-judicial body tasked with promoting and protecting human rights and collective people’s rights throughout the African continent as well as interpreting the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and considering individual complaints of violations of the Charter. This was attended by leaders from both Kampala based and upcountry organizations working on LGBTI issues.
The Commission came into existence with the coming into force, on 21 October 1986, of the African Charter (adopted by the OAU on 27 June 1981). Although its authority rests on its own treaty, the African Charter, the Commission reports to the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (formerly The Organization of African Unity). Its first members were elected by the OAU’s 23rd Assembly of Heads of State and Government in June 1987 and the Commission was formally installed for the first time on 2 November of that year. For the first two years of its existence, the Commission was based at the OAU Secretariat in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, but in November 1989 it relocated to Banjul, Gambia. (NB: The ACHPR should be distinguished from the African Union Commission, as the OAU Secretariat has been renamed since the creation of the African Union.)
The Commission meets twice a year: usually in March or April and in October or November. One of these meetings is usually in Banjul, where the Commission’s secretariat is located; the other may be in any African state. The commission has three mandates;
- Promoting human and peoples’ rights
- Protecting human and peoples’ rights
- Interpreting the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights