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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 our 2021 First Quarter Newsletter. In this issue we share a round up of our highlights, interventions and activities during the first three months of 2021 - January to March 2021. Under the 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 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 program 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

Ensuring access to justice for all marginalised and most at risk populations is one of our core mandates as HRAPF. Through the access to Justice Programme, we offer quality pro-bono legal aid services to LGBTI persons, sex workers, Persons who use and Inject Drugs and Women and girls living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, women and elderly facing land justice issues, women, girls and health workers in conflict with the law on abortion, Refugees facing gender based violence in Bidi Bidi camp in Yumbe District .

During the first quarter, a total of 423 new cases were handled under the access to justice programme. Of these, 174 concerned sex workers, 149 concerned LGBTI persons, 41 concerned Persons who use and inject drugs, 34 cases of persons living with HIV/AIDS, 18 cases of Gender based violence from the Bidi Bidi camp Bolomoni in Yumbe, six cases of persons with land justice issues, one case of a person in conflict with abortion laws, and one case of a health worker in conflict with abortion laws. These cases were handled by the main legal aid clinic, the regional legal aid centers as well as by the various community paralegals trained by HRAPF.

The interventions made include; police interventions, representing clients in court, securing bond, bail applications, dismissals and mediations.

During the quarter, we also recorded 73 incidents of human rights violations that happened to our various constituents and the most prevalent violations were: the right to equality and freedom from discrimination, freedom from cruel and degrading treatment, the right to liberty, the right to privacy, and the right to property.

HUMAN RIGHTS AWARENESS IN THE COMMUNITY

During the quarter 28 awareness sessions were conducted reaching out to 423 LGBTI persons, 347 sex workers and 78 persons living with HIV/AIDS and 4 community paralegal outreach sessions reaching out to 88 LGBTI persons. The discussions were centered on security and COVID-19 and the role of community paralegals in ensuring access to justice for community members as well as how to resolve conflicts within the community. The participants were also taught about how to report Human rights violations to authorities as well as how to avoid and deal with conflict with law enforcement officers. During these awareness sessions, the participants also shared their experiences on how COVID-19 and the measures that were put in place to curb the spread of the virus affected their livelihoods.

AWARENESS SESSIONS ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

HRAPF also conducted 20 awareness sessions on domestic violence targeting female sex workers and LGBT persons from various districts in Uganda namely; Gulu, Kasese, FortPortal, Jinja, Mbale, Soroti, Serere, Kampala, Wakiso, Iganga and Mbarara. These were supported by our partners Frontline AIDS under the Zero Violence Project.

These awareness sessions were co-convened with various partners and partner organisations also working with LGBTI persons and sex workers. These sessions were used as safe spaces for learning and sharing on the concept of domestic violence (DV) and Intimate partner violence (IPV) and its manifestation in these communities as well as the various interventions and strategies that are in place to reduce, respond to and report GBV and IPV faced by female sex workers and LGBTI persons in Uganda. These conversations were important because IPV and GBV are rampant but silent issues in these communities that need to be made visible and ably dealt with.

AWARENESS SESSION FOR INTERSEX PERSONS

During the quarter, we held an awareness session with intersex persons and parents of intersex children in partnership with SIPD Uganda.

We discussed human rights violations and legal challenges intersex persons face as well as the avenues for accessing justice when their rights are violated.

2ND MODULE OF THE COMMUNITY PARALEGAL TRAINING PROGRAM FOR PWUIDS

During the quarter, we held one paralegal training session for 10 paralegals working with Persons Who Use and Inject Drugs (PWUIDs). The paralegals were taken through the second module of the training which covered criminal law and procedures for handling criminal matters. The trained paralegals were also involved in practical engagements with the police as well as the steps of the trial process.

COMMUNITY PARALEGAL REFRESHER TRAININGS ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

During the quarter, we successfully completed 10 paralegal refresher trainings on Domestic violence reaching 101 paralegals working with LGBTI persons and sex workers in the various regions in Uganda. These were with the support of Frontline AIDS under the Zero Violence Project. The paralegals were trained on the concept of Domestic violence, it’s causes and effects, the human rights implications of domestic violence, the manifestations of Intimate partner violence among LGBT persons and sex workers, as well as its implications on the mental health and wellness of survivors of domestic violence. The paralegals were also taken through sessions on the legal framework on domestic violence and their role as community paralegals in redressing domestic violence in their communities.

The aim of the refresher trainings was to mobilise action to reduce violence against women and girls and sexual and gender minorities in Uganda through creating awareness on the legal and policy framework on domestic violence

LOCAL COUNCIL LEADERS TRAINING

We held a training for local council leaders in Luwero. The LC leaders were trained on the procedures and decision making required under the Local Council Courts Act 2006 by HRAPF lawyers as well as on the Local Council Courts Regulations 2007 facilitated by Grade One Magistrate His Worship John Paul Obuya.

The LC leaders were also engaged on their roles in the administration of land justice in Uganda

LC leaders mainly handle cases of land justice but many of them do not have a clear idea of the power they hold and how they can exercise their power. They are therefore trained on the composition of Local Council Courts as well as the remedies and punishments they can provide in case of land justice issues.

POLICE OFFICERS TRAINING ON THE LAW ON ABORTION

We held a training with police officers in Luwero District on the laws governing abortion. The training had 30 participants and the discussions were centered around the laws on abortion and how police officers can enforce abortion laws while still being cognisant and respectful of the human rights of those affected by these laws.

During the training, a Values Clarification and Attitudes Transformation session was conducted to assess the knowledge and perceptions of the police officers on abortion. The police officers were also enlightened on the provisions in the Penal Code and Constitution of Uganda to help them realise that not all abortions conducted are illegal because of allowable circumstances. This training was also an opportunity to influence attitude transformation with regards to abortion and the enforcement of abortion laws.

BOOK LAUNCH

Dr. Adrian Jjuuko launched his new book "Strategic Litigation and the struggle for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Equality in Africa.'' Dr. Jjuuko argues that the law and the general public should treat LGBT persons the same way that heterosexual persons are treated and that for LGBT strategic litigation to spur social change, activists have to design litigation that better fits the actual social and political conditions in their countries. The book is available for purchase/ free download at https://darajapress.com/publication/strategic-litigation-and-the-struggle-for-lesbian-gay-and-bisexual-equality-in-africa

INTERNATIONAL, REGIONAL AND NATIONAL ADVOCACY AND NETWORKING

Legal Timeliness/Ripeness’ in International Human Rights Law

HRAPF was was invited by the Center for Strategic Litigation to facilitate at an emerging public interest advocates programme in Arusha, Tanzania. The presentation was made by Dr. Adrian Jjuuko on the topic of ‘Legal Timeliness/Ripeness’ in International Human Rights Law and highlighted its importance. The programme empowered advocates through rigorous skills-based training and practical experience in Public Interest Litigation which was was vital to building public interest advocates in East Africa to enhance promotion of Social Justice and democratic values.

Regional High Level Convening on Strategic Litigation towards decriminalization of same sex relations

HRAPF was invited to facilitate a session at the Regional High Level Convening on Strategic Litigation towards decriminalization of same sex relations organized by Network of African National Human Rights Institution (NANHRI). This session aimed at bringing multidisciplinary experiences, techniques and topics that steer an increased understanding of all participants on regional jurisprudence on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGIE) matters and the significance of strategic litigation in the protection of human rights. The convening was also a space to discuss the legal architecture on SOGIE matters across Africa and regional precedence on SOGIE matters that can be applied across the other states.

Meeting with US Ambassador to Uganda

HRAPF represented by Dr. Adrian Jjuuko and other leaders of LGBTI organisations were part of a meeting with the US Ambassador to Uganda , Ms. Natalie E. Brown on the situation of LGBT and Intersex persons in Uganda.

Righting a wrong!

HRAPF was part of the virtual convening “Righting a wrong” that was organised by The Open Society Foundations in collaboration with partners from the Regional Campaign to Decriminalise Petty Offences in Africa that HRAPF is a part of. The convening was an opportunity for duty bearers and rights holders to reflect on the implications for practice of the landmark directive from the African Court on Human and People's Rights which issued an advisory opinion which holds that colonial-era Vagrancy Laws that overwhelmingly target the poor and most marginalized, violate rights enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, including the rights to equality, dignity and freedom from cruel and inhuman treatment, among others. The convening was also a space to provide guidance to states on strategies for domestication of the directive at national levels. The finding places a positive obligation on African States to reform their criminal laws and halt unlawful arrest practices.

UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW PROCESS

HRAPF as the co-convener of the sexual minorities cluster under the Uganda Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Stakeholders Forum. HRAPF held two consultative meetings in Eastern and Northern Uganda. These meetings were held with sex workers and LGBT persons on the issues affecting them in the run up to the next review of Uganda's human rights record at the UPR.

During the consultative meetings, the participants developed recommendations to be included in Uganda's shadow report as well as the advocacy opportunities presented by the UPR process.

This review is important because it provides an opportunity to hold the Government accountable and to follow up on its promises from the last reporting process in regards to upholding the equal rights and dignity of all persons.

DIALOGUE WITH DISTRICT HEALTH OFFICIALS IN WESTERN 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 Western Uganda to discuss the policy gaps in access to SRHR for LGBT persons.

The District Health Officials 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 Reproductive Health and Rights 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.

JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE FOR CSOs ON HEALTH BUDGET CUTS

HRAPF hosted and participated in the joint press conference for CSOs challenging the proposal by the Government of Uganda to cut funds allocated to Health in the 2020/21 budget. The Uganda budget proposed cuts on the 2020/21 health budget at an unfortunate time when the country is grappling with the devastating economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The press conference was convened by various partners under the Joint Advocacy for Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (JAS Programme) and other health activist and the joint press statement https://www.akinamamawaafrika.org/this-is-not-the-time-for-uganda-to-have-a-health-budget-cut/ was read out. With regards to next steps, the partners are looking to have interactions with the Health Committee at parliament and with the Ministry of Health to influence the ongoing budget cycle and build consensus. In the longer term, we are looking at a broader campaign on health financing encouraging governments to move towards the commitments made in the Abuja Declaration.

RESEARCHES

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

#ChoosetoChallenge21

In March, we took part in a Tweet chat with partners of the Zero Violence project. The tweet chat was in commemoration of Women's Month to highlight the urgent need to address violence and to build a movement for change that can extend across national borders to influence global conversations and progress.

The conversations were centered around the national legislation that exist in the partner countries (Kenya, Tanzania, India, Nigeria and Uganda) to protect marginalised women and girls in your country, the gaps in the legislation that ensure protection is given to all women and girls who experience violence, The key barriers that prevent women and girls from seeking justice, The gaps that marginalised women and girls face in accessing health services as well as the recommendations to ensure violence against marginalised women and girls is realised in national and global action against violence

SUPPORT TO OUR PARTNERS

During the quarter HRAPF paid courtesy visits to our partners at Kasese Women’s Support Initiative (KWSI), Ice Breakers Uganda (IBU) and Triumph Uganda and donated a bicycle to IBU and KWSI to contribute to their efforts in delivering quick services to their constituents. We are committed to strengthening our partnerships through contributing to organisational growth.

Retreat. Rethink. Relearn: HRAPF's Annual Staff Retreat

As it is HRAPF annual custom, HRAPF held her unprecedented annual staff retreat early this year in January to kick start the working year 2021. Unlike recent retreats, where we would go out of town to unwind and plan away from the hustle and bustle of town, we had our 2021 staff retreat at our new home, The HRAPF HOUSE.

The retreat was an opportunity to step away from day-to-day work to celebrate our past year’s success, reflect on working relationships, reorient staff on HRAPF culture, goals, and objectives as well as gather staff input on ways to improve our organisation. 

Fire fighting training

The time to think of how to best prevent and respond to an emergency is not during the actual event. Preparation is key. In a bid to ensure safety and security of HRAPF staff, we convened two refresher trainings on first aid and firefighting for all HRAPF staff during the quarter. The staff were trained on fire prevention, emergency fire response and how to prevent fire outbreaks at the office premises as well as the different types of accidents and the first aid that can be given to mitigate the effects.

LEARNING RESOURCES

Follow the links below to read all the statements, reports, analyses and researches we published this quarter.

CATCH UP WITH US VIA OUR SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS

Credits:

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