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THE SPOTLIGHT HRAPF’S WORK AIMS AT ACHIEVING EQUALITY, NON-DISCRIMINATION, AND ACCESS TO JUSTICE FOR THE MOST AT RISK POPULATIONS AND MARGINALISED PERSONS IN UGANDA

Dear Reader

We are delighted to present to you the third issue of the Spotlight Newsletter. This issue covers the second quarter of 2021 - 1st April to 30th June 2021. In this issue we share a round up of our highlights, interventions and activities during the period.

Under the HRAPF Strategic Plan 2018-2022, HRAPF has four programmes which are:

  1. The Access to Justice Programme whose mandate is to provide free and quality pro bono legal services to marginalised and Key Populations as well as engaging communal justice systems and supporting the community paralegal program
  2. The Research and Advocacy Programme whose key objective is to enhance research, advocacy and networking for a just and fair legal and policy environment that promote rights, equality and non-discrimination in order to achieve systemic changes towards the realisation of the rights of marginalised persons and Key Populations informed by evidence-based advocacy
  3. The Community Capacity Enhancement Programme which is mandated with enhancing the capacity of rights holders and duty bearers to effectively advocate for and protect the rights of marginalised persons and Key Populations in Uganda.
  4. The Institutional Development programme which strengthens HRAPF’s institutional capacity, financial independence and operational efficiency to deliver on its mandate and ensure an efficient, effective and sustainable human rights advocacy organisation

Our interventions during the quarter were hinged on the above mentioned programs and their strategies. We hope that you enjoy reading this edition of The Spotlight!

LEGAL AID SERVICE PROVISION

HRAPF handles cases through the following channels: the main legal legal clinic at the HRAPF secretariat in Kampala; the Central regional legal aid centre hosted by HUREED Initiative in Lugazi; the Eastern regional legal aid centre hosted by HOPE Mbale in Mbale; the Northern regional legal aid centre hosted by Health and Rights Initiative in Lira; and the western region legal aid centre hosted by Mbarara Rise Foundation in Mbarara; and at the legal aid desks - the one for LBQ women hosted by FARUG in Kampala and the one for Transgender/Gender non-conforming persons hosted by Tranz Network Uganda (TNU) in Kampala. The other cases were handled by community paralegals under the guidance of HRAPF lawyers.

During the second quarter, a total of 409 cases were received and handled by the Legal aid Clinic. 135 cases were handled at the legal aid clinic in Kampala, 55 by the regional legal aid centres, 34 at the legal aid desks, and 185 by the community paralegals.

The cases can be categorised as follows: Sex work cases - 151; LGBTI cases - 148; Cases involving persons who use and inject drugs - 80; cases of survivors of Gender based violence -13 from the Bidi Bidi refugee settlement; cases involving Persons Living with HIV/AIDS - 10; cases of persons with land justice issues - 4; and cases of persons in conflict with abortion laws - 3.

A case that stood out was the arrest of 44 persons from a shelter run by Happy Family Youth Uganda (HFYL). They were taken to Nansana Police Station, charged with doing 'a negligent act likely to spread infection of disease' and charged at the Nansana Magistrates Court. They were all released on bail and HRAPF also took charge of post release processes including relocation of the 44.

These cases handled benefited a total of 598 individuals who were both direct and indirect beneficiaries. These were: sex workers - 206: 193 were female and 13 were indirect beneficiaries mainly children of sex workers; LGBTI persons - 198. 77 gay men, 49 transgender persons, 34 bisexuals, 29 lesbians, 5 organisations, 2 Intersex persons, and two Queer persons; PWUIDs- 114: 90 male, 2 female and 22 indirect beneficiaries; Persons living with HIV - 41: 14 women and girls, 9 men and 18 indirect beneficiaries; Victims of GBV - 20: 18 female refuges and 2 male refugees; Persons with land justice challenges - 16: 6 women, 5 men and 5 indirect beneficiaries; Abortion cases -3: 2 women and 1 health worker.

The HRAPF lawyers and paralegals provided the clients with different services including: police interventions, legal advice, alternative dispute resolutions, securing plea bargains and court representation.

During the quarter, we also recorded 59 incidents of human rights violations faced by our clients. Of these LGBT persons suffered 29; sex workers -16 and PWUIDs- 14. The most prevalent rights violations were the: right to liberty - 29; right to equality and freedom from discrimination - 13; freedom from cruel and degrading treatment - 9; the right to privacy - 2; the right to property - 3; right to life- 2 and the right to health - 1.

HRAPF also responded to 21 cases involving safety and security emergencies of LGBTI persons in different parts of the country. In responding to these cases, verification exercises were conducted, clients were given emergency medical assistance, in some cases clients were relocated to secure places and referred to crisis shelters.

HRAPF operates a toll free helpline for the legal aid clinic through which clients can contact us in case of legal assistance and advice. During the quarter, a total of 24 cases were handled through the toll free line.

HUMAN RIGHTS AWARENESS IN THE COMMUNITY

During the quarter, we conducted one mobile legal aid camp in Mbale that was attended by 18 LGBTI persons. We also conducted a total of 5 awareness sessions with LGBTI persons and sex workers from Ntungamo, Rukungiri, Kisenyi,Kibuye and Kayunga

ENGAGEMENTS WITH THE INFORMAL JUSTICE SYSTEMS

Through our work with local council leaders to ensure access to justice for marginalised and most at risk persons, we conducted a dialogue with local council leaders on the rights of sex workers in Mbarara.

Two cases were handled with local council leaders and police. One case involving LGBTI persons in Mbarara district was handled as well as a case involving sex workers in Nakulabye.

COMMUNITY PARALEGAL TRAININGS

We conducted the first module of the paralegal training for a new batch of 15 community paralegals that will be serving PWUIDs, Sex workers and MSM communities.

This module focused on the roles of a community paralegal, the skills of a community paralegal, the role of paralegals in monitoring and documentation of human rights violations, concepts of the law in Uganda as well as the structures of law enforcement, the judiciary in Uganda and other key bodies in the legal system of Uganda.

SUPPORT TO COMMUNITY PARALEGALS

We would like to congratulate Arthur Mubiru, a HRAPF trained community paralegal who beat all the odds to graduate with a Diploma in Law from the Law Development Center on 11th June 2021. Arthur is the first successful product of HRAPF's sponsorship of community paralegals for professional law studies.

We also congratulate Sultan Muyomba, a HRAPF trained community paralegal who completed his internship at the Chief Magistrates Court of Jinja. Sultan is also currently pursuing his diploma at the Law Development Center with HRAPF sponsorship.

POLICE TRAININGS ON MARGINALISATION

We acknowledge that the journey of promotion and protection of human rights for all requires a number of stakeholders on board and therefore, during the quarter we conducted a total of 5 training workshops with police officers from various regions across Uganda. A total of 91 police officers were engaged in these trainings which were organised in collaboration with the Uganda Police Force.

The police officers were trained on the concepts of marginalisation and non-discrimination, and the legal and human rights framework governing marginalised persons in Uganda. During the training, the police officers also had an opportunity to appreciate the experiences of marginalised persons with the judicial system and their role in the protection and promotion of human rights of all persons without discrimination

These engagements were aimed at creating more awareness on human rights based approaches towards policing as well as the effects of marginalisation on the observance of human rights for sexual and gender minorities in Uganda

HEALTH WORKERS TRAININGS

We conducted two training workshops for health workers on the health rights and lived realities of sex workers and LGBT persons in the Eastern region of Uganda. These trainings reached out to a total of 60 health workers who were trained on the concepts of marginalisation, the right to health and they also had an opportunity to listen to the experiences of LGBT persons and sex workers with regards to access to health services

TRAINING ON DOCUMENTATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

We conducted a training on documentation of human rights violations during the period. The training was attended by 20 representatives from the LGBTI and sex worker movements.

The participants were trained on the prevalent human rights violations among LGBTI persons and sex workers, the differences between violations, abuses and crimes, how to monitor and document HR violations and the key components of a human rights violations report

INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT TO MARGINALISED AND MOST AT RISK GROUPS

One of our mandates is to offer legal support to organisations that serve most at risk and marginalised populations through enabling them to meet statutory obligations like organisation registration, filing annual returns as well as filing resolutions to open bank accounts. We assisted a number of organisations during the period to meet their statutory obligations

During the quarter, we also conducted a training for staff of Hope Mbale and Tranz Network on NGO Compliance. The participants were oriented on a number of compliance duties like registration practicalities, statutory obligations among others

We also conducted a total of 30 assessment visits to selected KP organisations serving LGBTI and sex worker communities. During these visits, the organisations were assessed on their level of compliance with statutory obligations and given legal advice on how to meet statutory obligations.

COALITION TO DECRIMINALISE AND DECLASSIFY PETTY OFFENCES IN UGANDA

Founded in November 2019, The Coalition to Decriminalise and Declassify Petty Offences in Uganda (CODPO) is a multidisciplinary coalition comprised of: statutory commissions, government MDAs, legal aid service providers, professional associations, media, civil society organisations, citizen groups and individual members. The Coalition seeks to raise awareness on the disproportionate impact of petty offences on the poor and vulnerable people in society with the end goal of removing these laws and punishments from the laws of Uganda and Africa as a whole.

HRAPF hosts the Coalition. During the quarter we conducted a quarterly coalition meeting to update the Coalition members on the previous quarter's activities as well as set goals for the next quarter. The Coalition website www.codpouganda.org was also launched during this meeting.

DIALOGUE WITH DISTRICT HEALTH OFFICIALS IN NORTHERN UGANDA

In order to combat stigma and discrimination in health service provision for LGBT persons, HRAPF conducted a dialogue on with District Health Officers (DHOs), HIV/AIDS Focal persons and LGBTI persons from Northern Uganda to discuss the policy gaps in access to SRHR for LGBT persons.

The DHOs were introduced to the concept of marginalisation and the findings of HRAPF‘s study on SRHR policy gaps in respect to LGBT persons and the legal framework on access to SRHR services for LGBT persons in Uganda. They also got an opportunity to listen to the first hand experiences of LGBT persons regarding the challenges they meet at health centers.

The district health officials acknowledged that after the dialogue, they gained insight into the concept of marginalisation as well as the Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) needs of LGBT persons in Western Uganda. There was a commitment from them to consciously contribute to enhancing access to SRHR services for LGBT persons as well as to share the new knowledge they acquired in the various districts of operation.

KP CSO CONSULTATIVE MEETING ON THE GLOBAL FUND PROJECT

HRAPF with support from Uganda Network on Law, Ethics and HIV/AIDS (UGANET) and The AIDS Support Organisation (TASO) is currently implementing a project aimed at promoting the human rights of Key Populations through reducing legal and human rights barriers to access to HIV/TB prevention and care services. HRAPF held a consultative meeting with various leaders from Key Population Civil Society Organisations.

This consultative meeting was held to introduce HRAPF’s interventions under the project and for partners to share innovative ways of implementing the project activities.

RESEARCH

During the quarter, we commissioned a number of researches on a wide range of issues that affect our key constituents. The following are the researches we are currently undertaking;

  1. A rapid assessment of key SRHR needs of LGBT+ persons
  2. SRHR budgetary allocation monitoring for LGBTI persons
  3. The study on the opportunities presented by the legal framework to enhance access to harm reduction measures to people who use and inject drugs within the criminal justice system in Uganda with a specific focus on women who use drugs
  4. The study into the impact of COVID-19 directives on Access to Justice for the LGBTI persons in Uganda
  5. An in-depth analysis on the Domestic Violence Act

SUPPORT TO OUR PARTNERS

During the quarter HRAPF paid courtesy visits to our partners at Hope Mbale, Mbarara Rise Foundation, Trans Youth Initiative, Kuchu Shiners, Women with a Mission, TRIUMPH Uganda, Wave of Legacy Alliance Initiative, OGERA, Kuchu shiners and Health Rights Initiative Gulu. We donated office equipment to Lived Realities Uganda, Tomorrow women in Sports and Youth Initiative for Health and a power generator to Freedom and Roam Uganda as part of our contribution to their efforts in delivering quick services to their constituents. We are committed to strengthening our partnerships through contributing to organisational growth.

IDAHOBIT TRAINING

In commemoration of #IDAHOBIT2021, HRAPF conducted a two-day Values Clarification Training for all HRAPF staff on LGBT issues as part of our commitment to ensuring access to stigma-free and affirming legal aid services for every single client who approaches us

This training was organised to commemorate the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) and reinstate HRAPF’s commitment to serve all the target groups without marginalisation and discrimination. The major focus was on provision of legal aid services to the LGBTI Community, assessment of the quality of services provided HRAPF from the community perspective as well as the possible ways for improvement in areas of weakness.

The training had LGBTI persons the main facilitators and it concluded with a reflection session where LGBTI leaders were invited for a round table discussion with HRAPF staff about the quality and sufficiency of HRAPF services. The feedback session greatly helped HRAPF to restrategise on how to serve the LGBTI community better.

The client feedback session at the training during IDAHOBIT, 17th May 2021
SMUG Executive Director Dr. Frank Mugisha (2nd row centre) and other leaders of the LGBTI community with HRAPF staff following the end of the feedback session
REMEMBERING THE LATE LICINIA AKIRAPA

We ended the second quarter on a very sad note as we lost one of our team members, the Late Ms. Licinia Akirapa who was murdered tragically on 24th June 2021. We are greatly committed to ensuring that we obtain justice for Licinia.

MAY HER SOUL REST IN ETERNAL PEACE

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Credits:

Created with images by CQF-avocat - "justice right legal" • Hermann - "books education school" • Zorro4 - "wing angel swan"