Human Rights Aawarenes and Promotion Forum-HRAPF has submitted its analysis of the Public Health (Amendment) Bill 2021 to Parliament. The analysis highlights implications of the Bill on the Human Rights of ‘criminalized minorities’ (LGBTI persons, Sex workers, and persons who inject/ use drugs).
The analysis emphasizes that although the bill has some positive implications for all Ugandans and specifically to the ‘criminalized minorities’ as regards the promotion of the right to health through combating infectious diseases, extending vaccination to all people, repealing discriminatory provisions of the Venereal Diseases Act and introduction of an express penalty which would reduce unwarranted detention of criminalized minorities, a number of provisions are likely to harm the human rights of criminalized minorities more.
The bill gives state agencies more powers in combating epidemic disease which is likely to lead to more violations of human rights of ‘criminalized minorities akin to what happened during enforcement of public health directives on the COVID-19 pandemic.
The introduction of mandatory vaccination violates the right to freedom from inhuman and degrading punishment protected under article 24 of Uganda’s Constitution.
The provision on forced disclosure of personal information is dangerous to criminalized minorities as personal information concerning their sexuality, their work, or drug use may be revealed, subjecting them to criminal sanctions that have nothing to do with infectious diseases. It also subjects them to stigma and further discrimination.
Finally, the overall criminalization approach taken by the Bill makes reaching out to criminalized minorities more complicated.
Report shared by Edward Mwebaza,Deputy Executive Director-HRAPF