Freedom Uganda was initiated in October 2020 to provide information about Human Rights & Democracy in Uganda. We are taking action to raise awareness and build a new Uganda that is inclusive of all Ugandans through effective dialogue.
Our continued desire to have a peaceful transition of power and to have a democratic political system has been costly. Uganda is still sluggish at the first steps of democratization since 2005 when the National referendum was passed to legalize a multi-political party system. This long process has not only costed the Uganda’s reputation in the international community as a growing-fast peaceful country in the East African region after years of civil conflicts and tyranny, but, it has also led to internal political fragmentation, gross violations of human rights and the lack of rule of law. Therefore, we are committed to supporting and empowering local communities, monitoring, and trucking human rights violations, political accountability, free and effective electoral process, and the rule of law. By organizing weekly webinars and other grass level mobilization tools and approaches we are building a reliant, peaceful, and united Ugandan society that is ruled by the principles of rule of law and democracy.
Our desire to build a democratic political system has been costly. Uganda is still sluggish at the first steps of democratization since 2005 when the National referendum was passed to legalize a multi-political party system. This long process has not only costed the Uganda’s reputation in the international community as a growing-fast peaceful country in the East African region after years of civil conflicts and tyranny, but, it has also led to internal political fragmentation and the lack of rule of law with power centered in a few families.
This period has been challenging to many Ugandans and especially the young people who have tried to exercise their fundamental freedoms and rights. The government has suppressed whoever has tried to build democratic platforms and hundreds have been tortured and disappeared as many lost their lives in the struggle. For instance, in the past years including the recent riots in Kampala, over 55 innocent civilians died due to police brutality and excessive use of force by heavily armed personnel.
Further, despite the discovery of natural resources and the indication of economic growth, the available studies show that there is a rapid growth of economic disparities across the country with many people living under absolute poverty. This has increased organized crimes and higher levels of corruption and lack of accountability from public officials.
Therefore, the idea of Freedom Uganda was inspired by these factors and is trying to make strategies on how to build a nation that is resilient and ruled by law. We are much aware of all structural, security, and financial constraints but we are determined to ensure that our objectives of empowering the local communities, ensuring democracy and rule of law are achieved in Uganda.
What we do:
Promotion and protection of Human Rights:
Human rights are not created or granted by any State, rather, they exist by virtue of our existence as human beings and protect our inherent human dignity. They are regarded as universal, innaliable, and interrelated because, they are not limited to state borders, and they apply to all human beings regardless of their nationality, color, ethnic group, language, religion, sex, among others. In fact, human rights aim at promoting the integral development of a human being and that is why, it is Important for a comprehensive interpretation of civil and political rights as well as economic, social, and cultural rights. The entire world affirmed to these rights in the United Nations Declaration for Human rights in 1948 and in its preamble, it emphasizes that, “the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”. The affirmation on fundamental rights was later transformed into state commitments and obligations under the seven core human rights treaties. Therefore, in whatever governments do, the important aspect must be the centrality of human beings and countries must be committed to the Four-Fold Human Rights Principles of respecting, promotion, protection and fulfilment of its international obligations towards those fundamental rights and freedoms.
However, since 2011, Uganda as a member of the U.N and a signatory to the core-international treaties on human rights has witnessed a horrible period of excessive police brutality such as torture, unlawful arrests, beating, unlawful killings, and the establishment of safe houses across the country. These violations continue to desecrate the sanctity of human dignity through public humiliation and torture. Throughout the years, security agencies (Police officers, special forces, UPDF, and Local Defense Units) repeatedly used excessive force while arresting suspects, especially women, and unlawfully deployed heavy weapons like tear gas, heavy sticks, and rubber bullets against protesters. There have been cases of indiscriminate killings of civilians and their properties , and on many occasions, there have been reported cases of kidnap and disappearances, torture in detention places and a curtail to the freedom of expression and access to justice.
Despite the available reports on these gross violations, often, there are no procedures to bring to justice those officers who shoot to kill unarmed civilians and there is no remedy to those who have been humiliated and tortured by security forces. Therefore, our overall goal is to ensure that each person in Uganda lives in the dignity that he or she deserves, to ensure that the Ugandan government improves the protection of the fundamental rights, to ensure that civilians and law enforcers know their rights and duties, and to bring to account those acts that contradicts the law.
Thus, Freedom Uganda focuses on two main objectives:
(1) Advocacy and rule of law: Understanding the idea that advocacy is necessary for policy reform, capacity building on the basic human rights principles, Freedom Uganda is taking a bottom-up approach by empowering local populations and institutions to ensure that all peoples live in dignity and respect human rights. This is done through regular webinars, dissemination of information and materials, and human rights training.
(2) Human rights database: We are convinced that having statistical records is key to improving human rights protection and it increases credibility to recommendations and policy reform in a country. Therefore, with the help of our team and volunteers, we maintain a database on first- hand human rights violations in Uganda. We record and report incidents directly from victims and eyewitnesses across the country.
Every two weeks Freedom Uganda organizes webinars related to these subjects.
Meet the team
Dr. Nico Schoonderwoerd is a physicist, works in the financial industry, and is one of the co-founders of Freedom Uganda.
Ugandan Human Rights Activist, co-founder Freedom Uganda, Unite Here Local 25 leader, and organizer, Workers’ and Labor Rights Defender.
Uganda Human Rights Activist, co-founder Freedom Uganda, Broker commissions Analyst, HN/CA. The dire state and increased violation and gross abuse of human rights in Uganda pushed her to stand up for those that are voiceless.