No, human-rights defenders are not imperialist agents
IN A letter President Yoweri Museveni wrote to the Speaker of Parliament last month, about claims of torture by security personnel, he refers to human-rights defenders as agents of imperialism and their local lackeys. This is quite unfortunate. A human-rights defender works for the protection and promotion of human rights in a peaceful manner. His or her actions include speaking on the situation of human rights at any one time, assisting citizens to gain access to justice, writing articles on human rights, creating awareness and informing the citizenry about their rights and responsibilities, speaking out against such ills as bad governance, impunity, corruption, nepotism, sectarianism, poor service delivery, and unemployment.
Human-rights defenders derive their legitimacy from the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda under Article 38 that provides for civic rights and activities hence:
•Every Ugandan citizen has the right to participate in the affairs of government, individually or through his or her representatives in accordance with the law.
•Every Ugandan has a right to participate in peaceful activities to influence the policies of government through civic organisations.
Clearly, the above description does not constitute being “agents of imperialist interests.”
On the same page, the president assures the Speaker of a country with capable systems and institutions. One could write a long essay on this assertion.
UPDF being a competent and professional army is now debatable. To categorise the Special Forces Command, at this point, as being competent and professional, is to really push it.
Last but not least, the president tries to even defend the use of torture as reasonable force. The president is wrong.
Bob Kirenga University of Columbia, US