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Day May 1, 2011

Letter to Ugandan Minister of Justice on the Indefinite Detention of Prisoners with Psychosocial Disabilities


To the Ugandan Minister of Justice Kiddhu Makubuya

Your Excellency,

Human Rights Watch is pleased that 12 detainees convicted as juveniles and awaiting minister’s orders were released on January 3rd this year after a consent decree. While encouraged by the release of these detainees, we write again to reiterate our concern regarding the continued and protracted incarceration of an additional 11 persons with psychosocial disabilities found not guilty by reason of insanity. Like the juvenile detainees, they have been imprisoned for years awaiting Minister’s orders, as set out in the Trial on Indictments Act. We urge you to act on these cases by releasing these individuals, thereby upholding their rights guaranteed by international and regional human rights law as well as the Ugandan constitution.

Previously in June 2009, Human Rights Watch brought to your attention five individuals who were deemed by courts to be not guilty by reason of insanity and who are currently on remand in Luzira Prison. We write again to reiterate our concern about the continued inaction regarding these prisoners as well as an additional six individuals in Katojo Prison in Fort Portal, all found not guilty by reason of insanity and on prolonged remand, in one case over 16 years. It is unclear how many detainees with psychosocial disabilities remain awaiting minister’s orders in other rural prisons and therefore we wish to encourage you to collect full information about the number and condition of such other detainees. We have enclosed the details of each case known to Human Rights Watch below and we wish to encourage the Ministry to work with the Prisons Commission to identify similarly situated prisoners throughout the country and issue orders for release so cases can be resolved. Appropriate mental health services and community integration should be made available to them.

According to Section 48 of Uganda’s Trial on Indictments Act, a person found to be not guilty for reason of insanity would be remanded to a prison, mental hospital, or other suitable place of safe custody as per the Minister’s order until a determination is made on the case. The individual remains on remand until such a determination is made. Once the Minister of Justice has issued this order, the superintendent of the custodial facility where the individual is detained, is then required by law to issue regular reports to the minister regarding the individual’s condition, history, and circumstances. When considering the periodic reports, the Minister of Justice may order the prisoner to be discharged.

However, Superintendents of custodial facilities are unfortunately not submitting such reports without the Minister’s orders, which led to individuals being detained on remand indefinitely, a situation which constitutes arbitrary detention and a violation of human rights law. Moreover, whilst these individuals are on remand they have no effective opportunity to challenge the legitimacy of their detention as they do not in practice have access to lawyers. In practice, lawyers are only provided by the state at the trial stage. Given the particular psychosocial needs of these individuals, their cases should have been handled with the utmost speed and sensitivity. Those so detained are being held contrary to international, regional, and national principles on the rights of persons with disabilities.

The Ugandan constitution in Articles 32 and 35, as well as the Uganda Persons with Disabilities Act, guarantee persons with psychosocial disabilities the right to respect and human dignity. The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Article 18(4) provides that persons with disabilities have the right to special measures of protection in keeping with their physical or moral needs. In the African Commission case Purohit and Moore v. The Gambia (Communication No. 241/2001), the commission declared that “mental health patients should be accorded special treatment which would enable them not only to attain but also sustain their optimum level of independence and performance in keeping with Article 18(4) of the African Charter.”

According to the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which both Uganda is a party, everyone has the right to the highest standard of physical and mental health on the basis of free and informed consent. These individuals have been awaiting Minister’s orders for periods of time ranging from one to 16 years. SK[1] of Katojo Prison was arrested in 1991 on a murder charge and has been awaiting Minister’s orders for over 16 years, since December 12, 1994. Others have been waiting for over five or ten years.

The prolonged delay in notifying these 11 individuals of their legal status is a serious violation of their rights under national, regional, and international law. Under the Ugandan constitution, article 28(1), all Ugandans have the right to a fair, speedy and public hearing before an independent and impartial court or tribunal established by law. The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights sets out the rights of those accused of crimes before the law. Under article 7 of the charter, all defendants have the right to a conclusion of the proceedings against them within a reasonable time. Under articles 9(3) and 14(3)(c) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Uganda ratified in 1995, all defendants have the right to a conclusion of the proceedings against them without undue delay. Under article 9(4), everyone detained has a right to be able to challenge that detention, an option these individuals on remand can very rarely exercise in practice.

The fact that the detention of these individuals, and others who are being detained pursuant to section 48 of the Trial on Indictments Act, is dependent upon the decision of a member of the executive and not an independent tribunal also renders their detention arbitrary and unlawful under international human rights law. The law should therefore be amended to comply with Uganda’s international commitments.

Below are the relevant details of the 11 cases. We urge the Honorable Minister to consider and promptly issue the appropriate orders as required by law so that the defendants can be informed of their legal status, and released to seek out assistance and/or treatment as they wish as soon as possible. We re-emphasize the importance of these cases and ask that you ensure that they are handled as required by law. Doing so will be an important step in respecting the basic rights of the individuals concerned.

We look forward to your prompt action on this matter and if the Honorable Minister or your colleagues wish to further discuss our concerns, we will be obliged to meet you at your convenience and thank you for your attention on this important matter.

Sincerely,

Daniel Bekele
Africa Director
Human Rights Watch

CC:

Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki, Uganda Supreme Court

Hon. Medi Kaggwa, Chairman of the Uganda Human Rights Commission

Hon. Cyprien Musoke, Chairman of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, Parliament of Uganda

Hon. Erias Lukwago, Shadow Minister of Justice, Suite 116 London Chambers, Plot 4 Johnstone Street, Kampala

Dr. Margaret Mungherera, President, Uganda Medical Association, Kampala

Cases on remand awaiting Minister’s orders involving persons with psychosocial disabilities in Luzira and Katojo Prisons, in order of length of time awaiting Minister’s orders:

1. SK – MFP 437/1991 – FR 642/91

SK was charged with murder, admitted to prison on December 12, 1991, and placed on Minister’s order on December 12, 1994. He is currently in Katojo Prison, Fort Portal

2. BA – UR 533/01 – CSC 42/98

BA was arrested for murder in 1997 and tried for murder by the Mbarara High Court. He was placed on Minister’s orders during the trial on November 15, 2000. He is currently in Luzira Prison.

3. MA – MFP 604/2001 – FR 907/01

MA was charged with defilement, admitted to prison on August 24, 2001, and placed on Minister’s orders on January 30, 2006. He is currently in Katojo prison, Fort Portal.

4. PBA – MFP 637/2001

PBA was charged with murder and attempted murder, admitted to prison on December 5, 2001, and placed on Minister’s Orders on February 21, 2006. He is currently in Katojo Prison, Fort Portal.

5. KR – MFP 485/2001 – FR 676/04

KR was charged with murder, admitted to prison on September 21, 2001, and placed on Minister’s orders on March 7, 2006. As of November 2010, he was transferred to Murchinson Bay, Luzira, for treatment.

6. BE – AA 129/2002 – FR 588/02

BE was charged with murder, admitted to prison on July 12, 2002, and placed on Minister’s orders December 1, 2006. He is currently in Katojo Prison, Fort Portal.

7. OJ – UR 149/07 – CSC 47/02

OJ was arrested and charged with defilement in 1999. He pled guilty in Gulu High Court. He was placed under Minister’s orders on March 19, 2007 due to insanity. He is currently in Luzira Prison.

8. OB – UR 320/07 – CSC 57/04

OB has been charged with two cases of defilement. For the first case, he pled guilty, was convicted, and sentenced to 18 years.

For the second case, he pled not guilty, and was placed under Minister’s orders on March 22, 2007 by the Gulu High Court due to insanity. He is currently in Luzira Prison.

9. BJY – US 854/2004 – CSC 66/06

BJY was arrested in 2005 on defilement charges, and placed on Minister’s orders on October 22, 2007 due to reasons of insanity. He is currently in Luzira Prison.

10. BJ – UR 566/08 – CSC 0184/02

BJ was charged with defilement and placed under Minister’s orders by the Mbale High Court on May 5, 2008 due to insanity. He is currently in Luzira Prison.

11. MB – AA 89/2003

MB was charged with defilement, admitted to prison on November 12, 2004, and placed on Minister’s Orders on September 29, 2009. As of November 2010, he was transferred to Murchinson Bay Hospital, Luzira Prison, for treatment.

[1] Names have been withheld from public version of this letter.

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Kizza Besigye’s Press Briefing at Nairobi Hospital as he vows to continue with Protests


NAIROBI: 12:00 Noon May 1, 2011: Kizza Besigye and his doctors addressed a press conference today at Nairobi Hospital focusing on his medical condition and the events that led to his hospitalization. He sat in a wheel chair dressed in a white hospital robe and donned dark shades to protect his eyes from direct bright light which causes him pain. The press conference was arranged by the Hospital in response to numerous requests from the media and the public about Kizza Besigye’s medical condition. A team of senior doctors treating Dr. Kizza Besigye: Dr. Timothy Byahiika (Othopedic Surgeon), Dr. Charles Karyuki (Cardiologist) and Dr. Oscar Onyango (Opthalmologist) were present together with Kizza Besigye’s family members and FDC party official Anne Mugisha.

Dr. Byahiika gave an overview of Kizza Besigye’s medical condition, stating the procedures and treatments that the patient had undergone since arriving at the hospital. They included surgery on the injured fingers and hand to clean tissue and replace wires after the cast was removed. The Ophthalmologist cleaned the patient’s eyes to remove the residual chemicals in his eye. The patient was also examined by a cardiologist. Dr. Byahiika revealed that although they had suspected spinal and chest injuries, a scan had established that there were no fractures and the injuries in his chest and back were on the soft tissue. He mentioned that the chemicals with which he had been sprayed had affected mainly his eyes, his neck and back.

Dr. Onyango the ophthalmologist, explained that it was the left eye which was most affected by the chemicals. He added that the nature of the chemicals used could not be established and it was not clear whether they were acidic or alkaline or if it was pepper spray to which he was exposed for a long duration without treatment. The Ophthalmologist added that Kizza Besigye had recovered ‘reasonable’ vision but still needed close supervision. They hoped he would be discharged in 4 – 5 days depending on the progress of his recovery.

Kizza Besigye thanked the press for coming and apologized for being unclear in speech due to persistent hiccups which have lasted over 12 hours. His statement focused on the events leading up to his arrest emphasizing the peaceful, non-partisan and non-violent nature of the activities in which he had been invited to participate by Activists for Change. He recounted the circumstances leading to his four recent arrests and gave a detailed account of the final violent arrest. Besigye explained that a hammer used by security personnel to break the car window closest to him last Thursday had fallen through and hurt his right thigh. Chemicals were sprayed at him and his aides from both sides of the crushed car windows and the second burst of spray from the window closest to him had gone directly in his eyes after which he buckled with his head down. He said his neck and back were then drenched with spray as he remained in that buckled position with extreme pain in his eyes and scalding on the neck and ears which were more exposed than his back.

Kizza Besigye remained still until he felt he was suffocating and he then staggered out of the car unable to see. He added that he barely remembered being dragged onto the back of the pick up truck as he was in a semi conscious state and only recalls becoming fully conscious while on the moving truck which was bumping him from side to side. He also could not open his eyes which were in a lot of pain. He was hauled to a police station and left laying on a floor for hours before his sister Dr. Olive Kobusingye came in to administer first aid. He was later taken to a private hospital in Kampala where the doctors recommended further treatment abroad.

Kizza Besigye recounted his trip from Uganda for which he had sought clearance with the authorities but was surprised when a security official still intercepted him at the airport and delayed his departure for the urgent medical treatment that he needed.

Kizza Besigye denied allegations that he had been carrying any chemical sprays or other weapons in his vehicle at the time of his arrest and thanked the media for capturing the incident in detail because they could give a true account of what happened at the scene of his arrest. He reminded journalists that all the trouble surrounding his walk to work started after police tries to stop him. He urged supporters not to engage in any vindictive acts to avenge his violent treatment by the police and security last Thursday – even as they continue with the peaceful protests against the pertaining social and economic situation prevailing in the country.

Dr Besigye told journalists he is determined to fight for the rights of the Ugandan people and will continue mobilising what he terms as “peaceful demonstrations” and walk to work protests to ignite action from the government.

“As I have said what underlies it [protests] is the socio economic crisis in our country and the population that is largely marginalised and now protesting their marginalisation,” Dr Besigye told journalists at a press conference at the Nairobi Hospital on Sunday.

“I suspect that these activities will definitely continue in one form or another until there is adequate response to the situation,” he said.

The Opposition leader told journalists he was worried about his life, having survived an assassination attempt when he fled the country to South Africa for four years after the 2001 General Elections.

“I know that my life is in danger I have known this for a long time, as you know I had to leave the country for four years after the 2001 elections, I lived in South Africa, I was followed in South Africa by an assassination squad and it was the South African government that intervened and helped me to survive, so there is no doubt the threat that there is to my life,” he said.

Asked to comment about statements issued by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Nairobi on Saturday to the effect that it was him who ignited violence by spraying pepper spray to the police, Besigye denied, saying “every aspect of the incident was recorded by the media, it is out there for everybody to see.”

“On the fateful day, I obviously did not have any spray, I can not have any spray. I understand while I was here that that fellow who sprayed me there have been a lot of efforts to track him down and possibly to harm him and his family but we have advised our people that they must make a statement that we have no intention of retribution in our activities,” he said.

“I tried to cover myself in my car but the gentleman kept spraying my eyes and I became unconscious. I was bundled into a police car and later charged in court but I could take a plea because I was in a bad condition, that is when my lawyers sought authority to have me transferred here in Nairobi for specialised treatment, and as you can see I am responding well to treatment,” he said.

“There were some other orders issued that I should not be allowed through the airport, but eventually I managed to get through,” he said.

Daily Monitor reported that Minister Kassaija, who deputises Kivejinja, confirmed yesterday that neither Besigye nor any of the occupants in his vehicle were actually armed. He said it was Besigye’s supporters who were armed with stones and kept hurling them at police, forcing the officers to retaliate with tear gas and live bullets.

“It do not think it was absolutely necessary to hammer that car,” Mr Kasaija said, adding, “If I was the one I would just tow that car away with Dr Besigye inside. What they did was unnecessary.”

Dr Besigye has pledged to issue a more comprehensive statement once he leaves hospital to highlight measures he wants undertaken by the Ugandan government to address challenges facing the country.

Museveni is now a captive of his own deeds


I have read with concern the remarks by the president on the closure of the Interreligious Council meeting and I felt duty-bound to respond.

For how long does it take a leader to generate electricity in his country – ten years; twenty years or fifty years? Doesn’t this mean that a whole generation can be condemned to poverty if a leader celebrates a silver jubilee in power and he is still talking about basic infrastructure? If we have not got those basic needs in such a long time, what guarantee is there that we shall get them in a period whose duration we don’t know?

That professor Oloka Onyango is poisoning our children with lies in Makerere: Does Professor Oloka-Onyango tell more lies than the one who promised a fundamental change and all we are seeing instead is no change? I would like to know whether Museveni is a taxpayer and Oloka-Onyango is not.

That if they were dictators, Professor Oloka-Onyango wouldn’t be alive teaching in Makerere depending on taxpayers’ money while poisoning their children: I find this absurd. All I know is Prof Oloka-Onyango is a Ugandan taxpayer and he is in that university not as a favour but because he qualifies to be there. Is this not a veiled threat against the good professor? By the way, although, Professor Oloka Onyango is alive doesn’t mean there aren’t other people who have died at the hands of the state operatives who ironically are supposed to protect them. The Anglican prayer book says, “Constantly speak he truth; boldly rebuke vice and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake”. I applaud Professor Oloka for speaking the truth although it sounds unpalatable to those wielding power.

Since the president wants the truth, let him tell us why he never retired as he promised on page 11 in his manifesto in 2001? Let him tell us why we don’t have community polytechnics that he promised in 1996? Let him tell us whether it is not him that has ordered the brutalizing of the opposition leaders?

The country’s concern is not whether or not Museveni has won elections. The major concern is whether the president is doing what he is mandated to do. Is he delivering according to our expectation? In 2009, within a week that students were reporting, the government instead of funding public universities endorsed an increment of tuition fee up to 126%. It was never 40% as our media houses reported. I personally wrote to he president complaining about this unfair development. We took a petition to parliament with clear reasons as to why we opposed the increment. Rather than listening to us, I had to serve a jail sentence on trumped up charges of assault and threatening parliament on top of being brutally tortured by the police who even stole my money. Right now, it is difficult for professors to sponsor their own children in a university in which they teach. We have a collapsed health system; public servants including Professor Oloka-Onyango whom the president said, should go and hang, are paid peanuts! Yet he president and his apparatchiks live in glamour, grandeur, sumptuousness, opulence, pomp, pageantry and ostentation!

All we need is not only political but also financial accountability for our money. We part with thirty percent every month in Pay As You Earn which Andrew Mwenda used to call Pay As Yoweri Earns, we part with 18 percent on Value Added Tax on each commodity we purchase and a host of other taxes and the president insults whoever asks him for accountability. We know we cannot have credible elections organized by the commission hand-picked by the president. Given the power of incumbency, it is only somnambulists who would think, Museveni could be beaten at the polls. Some of his spin doctors who have always argued that Museveni won clean and square have testified that he used about 1 trillion shillings from taxpayers’ money and some from his friends. How, then, can we have a free and fair election where the incumbent is using taxpayers’ money. And not just taxpayers’ money but colossal sums of taxpayers money!

That the radios never gave unfair advantage to the president: Virtually all the upcountry radio stations are owned by NRM members – some of them ministers and members of parliament. Amama Mbabazi, Igeme Nabeta, Nuru Byamukama, Jim Muhwezi, Mike Mukula etc. Moreover, the state-owned radio, UBC and those owned by Vision Group of companies also favoured the incumbent. So who is speaking the truth?

That incumbency didn’t favour Museveni because he had to divide his time for campaigns and national duties: Because he was a candidate and a president at the same time, he couldn’t distinguish between Museveni the presidential candidate and Museveni the president. This gave him an unfair advantage over other candidates. He should account for the more than 600 billion shillings supplementary budget which was passed during the campaigns and hardly after a month the finance minister said, government was broke! The 20 million shillings given to MPs reportedly for supervising the NAADS programme in the heat of the campaigns was rightly construed to be a bribe.

That incumbency is a disadvantage is a blatant lie. He should know that the people he was addressing – religious leaders are very informed people. Some of them have PhDs. Because of incumbency, he began and has always began his campaigns before other candidates in the guise of “prosperity for all”, monitoring government programmes and so forth using taxpayers’ money. In fact, during these tours, the president hands over brown envelopes containing cash to a number of people which is also construed to be a bribe to the electorate.

I don’t think the president has the moral authority to talk about politicians who lie. This really is a case of a pot calling a kettle black. Sadly, whoever speaks the truth, Museveni labels such a person a liar.

I think careerists in politics are people who look at politics as a career. I would want to know, apart from politics, what other office has Museveni ever occupied since he finished university in 1969 if I am not mistaken? He has been in power for quarter a century now; twenty five years down the line, he is still talking of the vision. I don’t know whether his vision will be realized in 2050. If president Museveni is not a career politician, he should kindly tell us which other Ugandan is a career politician.

That the culture of giving money to voters has been started by these young careerists:

Again, the president is at it. His cadres in Bushenyi – Nasser Bassajabalaba, Hassan Basajabalaba, Willis Bashasha were openly buying votes for him and for themselves. So who does he blame? Does he want to say that the opposition had more money to buy votes than the NRM? In every cell, at least in my home county Ruhinda a chairman was given 120,000 thousand shillings and there were thirty people each of whom was given 5,000 shillings. This is the amount of money that everyone knows about. But also on the eve of voting and on the voting day, NRM cadres were distributing cash and other valuables. So who are these careerists buying votes?

If the president doesn’t want people to call the gifts and brown envelopes bribes, he should stop using taxpayers’ money. He should use his own money. Otherwise, taxpayers are entitled to know the criterion followed while giving those gifts. I would also need to know whether it is a constitutional duty for the president to give gifts to religious leaders. And, incidentally, we would wish to know whether the groups or people that the president often gives gifts are the neediest people. When a president gives a Land Cruiser to a bishop, it follows that many of his shepherds may be swayed by the act of charity to the bishop.

That the president wants to push for the amendment of the constitution to deny certain categories of offenders bail raises suspicion. I know some opposition figures may soon be charged with treason and terrorism and this amendment could be aimed at denying them bail. The president again wants the people who are presumed innocent to continue being penalized like the practice is. If he abhors the practice of giving bail to the murderers he should begin by locking up Ofwono Opondo who killed a person at Kampala Parents Primary school sometime back and he continues walking with his head high.

About term limits: I am amazed that the man who stated in black and white that Africa’s problem are the leaders who overstay in power is the one praising the desecration of our constitution by removing the most sacrosanct provision. The Banyankore say, nowahinga ahorobi ayinuka which means, even if one is tilling a soft ground, time reaches when they have to retire. I want to state, like Shakespeare stated, the world is a theatre; man comes, plays his part and then goes. In our neighbourhood here in Tanzania, Hassan Mwinyi is alive, Ben Mkapa is alive; Nyerere didn’t die in power; Daniel Arap Moi is around in Kenya; what’s so unique with us here?

On unemployment: There seems to me, to be a deliberate move by the regime to keep many Ugandans jobless. I have stated elsewhere that in Uganda, the biggest unemployment problem we are facing is graduate unemployment. Yet all Ugandan universities have produced not more than 300,000 graduates. Out of these, a sizeable number is from neighbouring countries – Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan, among others because Uganda was and still is an education hub. These foreigners often go back after finishing their studies. We also have very few people studying from outside Uganda – notably those from topnotch families. Accordingly, genuine Ugandans with university degrees are not more than 200,000 (two hundred thousand). Why they don’t get jobs is simply because jobs are given on patronage basis to friends, relatives and in-laws of the political elites most of who forge academic documents from Nasser Road. The president was recently quoted in the New Vision saying the unemployed should sell juice and fruits! I have stated before that those that are not well educated are comfortably employed as Boda Boda cyclists, shoe shiners, barbers, wheel barrow pushers, fruit vendors, house maids and house boys and so forth. Now you see the the solution that the president has for the unemployment problem!

Way forward

On the problem of graduate unemployment, the government must ask all the employers whether in the private sector or public sector to verify the credentials of the people they employ with the respective institutions those people claim to have studied from. If you get a Makerere University transcript from Nasser Road, you will be unearthed if your document is taken to Makerere for verification and you don’t appear in Makerere University database. If you have a forged A or O level certificate, government must check with UNEB and the schools named. As things unfold, Besigye’s tormentor may have forged documents to obtain a degree. Otherwise, what describes a discrepancy between the names he used in the lower levels of education and the ones he uses now?

Government must make sure higher education including university education is accessible on merit not on the basis of affluence. University fees in public universities are too much to bear by the ordinary person but also by most employees including civil servants. Accordingly, government must reduce tuition fees as the president promised during his campaigns but also increase funding to the universities for research and enhancement of the academic staff salaries.

The government promised to launch a students’ loan scheme which the president promised even before he started his campaigns. This loan scheme is long overdue and it should cater for all those that have dropped out of universities on account of failing to raise tuition fees. I am sure, since other countries have managed it, Uganda also can.

Government must increase the salaries of all employees and urge the private employers to increase the remuneration for their employs to match with the rising costs of living.

Government must intervene by cutting the fuel taxes but also taxes on all other commodity prices. I find the argument that when government reduces taxes, there will be no money for roads and electricity lame. The state is there for the good of its citizens. There are immediate needs that need to be prioritized and these are survival needs.

Government must bring to book all regime supporters that have flagrantly abused the law. We cannot accept a situation where criminality is condoned as long as it is done in support of the sitting regime. There must be a distinction between the state and the regime. Accordingly, Gilbert Arinaitwe Bwana who tortured, tormented and traumatized Dr Besigye should immediately be brought to book; Ofwono Opondo who shot a person in broad day light should also be prosecuted; Kale Kayihura a man under whose supervision Gilbert Arinaitwe Bwana works should also be brought to book.

The dialogue that government is proposing with the opposition is meaningless if the above issues are not handled. We demand to live in a country where our dignity as human beings is respected.

Finally, if shillings 1.7 trillion that has been unconstitutionally appropriated to buy fighter jets, (I don’t know what for) was to be distributed among 100,000 unemployed graduates, each one would get 17million shillings to be able to begin a job for himself/herself. It is nauseating and disgusting to find that our graduates have become paupers and criminals of all sorts just because they cannot get what to do when the government misallocates resources.

The recommendations I have given are by no means exhaustive but they will inevitably endear the government to the citizens if they worked upon. If they are disregarded, the government will further alienate itself from the citizens and calls by the opposition to withdraw the social contract will always attract public attention. It is futile for the ruling party to think that it will continuously buy votes, manipulate and deceive the masses to stay in power. Even if that is successfully done, some of us who know what the government should do will continue to protest. Incidentally, some people have chosen to go to prison in protest. At least, Honourable Mao told me when I visited him in Luzira that even by being in prison, he is protesting. Please, never ever think of criminalizing protests against the government. Thomas Jefferson said, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism”. Accordingly, people who express dissent with the manner in which government is run are not saboteurs; they are not traitors but the greatest patriots.


Vincent Nuwagaba is a human rights defender

vnuwagaba@gmail.com

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