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The Observer Monday, May 8 - 9, 2017 EUROPE DAY 19

Government should implement

political opposition, we are seen
more as an alternative opposition
to the establishment. The media
is also in the same category. This
means that whatever we do is
interpreted according to the

civil society recommendations

political beliefs of the person in
question, and this is not good for
democratic development.
The third challenge is the
increasing poverty among the
population which makes it
difficult for them to appreciate
The government has been asked to implement recommenda- the rights that we are advocating,
say health, social security, right
tions put to it by civil society. Foundation for Human Rights to employment and education.
Initiative (FHRI) is an organisation that has benefited from So much of our advocacy
remains abstract if it is not
support from the European Union. Its executive director DR translated into concrete actions
LIVINGSTONE SEWANYANA in an interview at the organisa- in favour of the poor. Issues of
tion's offices in Kansanga, told Jonathan Kamoga that these access, availability, quality and
affordability of social services
recommendations will bring about national development and remain farfetched.
promote human rights. We also have a challenge of
limited funding yet all our

activities need to be resourced
e are wait for people to kill and rape? adequately. Locally, we hardly
celebrating Address the root cause of the have people who can contribute
European crime instead of this reactionary to these services. Even if the rich
Union at 60. approach. people were willing to pay, the
What are economy cant allow them since
some of the projects of your FHRI has been around for their businesses are also not
organisation funded by the EU? over 25 years now; what doing well. We have scaled down
As the EU celebrates 60 years, achievements do you pride our human resource and with
we want to express solidarity yourselves with? the reduction in manpower, our
with them and appreciate the FHRI, being a human rights outreach becomes limited. All
support that they have given advocacy organisation, has these affect our ability to deliver
the civil society sector and the sought to deepen understanding effectively.
country as a whole. and the observing of human
As an organisation, our rights in Uganda and beyond In your capacity as Dr
cooperation with the EU has and seeks to contribute to our Sewanyana, what is that
been mainly in the area of social, political and economic Uganda you would like to see?
good governance, access to transformation. Much of our My dream is to see a
justice, campaign for electoral work revolves around building democratic Uganda where the
reforms and improving women consciousness of the people citizen is supreme, majority of
participation in politics. about their rights as well as the population are employed
They have supported us in the promoting democratic reforms. and earn a decent living, where
area of rights awareness through We have been in the forefront Dr Livingstone Sewanyana, the executive director of Foundation for Human leaders listen to the population
to monitoring the human rights of promoting judicial, political, Rights Initiative (FHRI) and act according to their
situation and advocacy for electoral, police and prison aspirations.
reforms through the Democratic reforms; the idea is to ensure I want to see a Uganda where
Governance Facility (DGF). As that the institutions of the state independence is yet to be and in maintaining law and police are friendly and not seen
of now, two of our activities deliver services as expected of realised. Our human rights order but because of the need to as an enemy, a Uganda which has
supported by the EU stand out. them by the population. Through record remains poor, based on preserve the status quo, most of proper transition of power every
That is the campaign against the specialised studies, partnership low levels of enjoyment of social, these institutions find it difficult five years, a Uganda where civil
death penalty and [the demand with the judiciary and legislative economic and civil liberties. to make these changes since they society organisations are valued,
for] electoral reforms. advocacy, we have sought to Much as we have been credited (changes) may empower the a Uganda where the youth are the
ensure that there are genuine for being accommodative on the population to demand change. drivers of change, more skilled
How far has the campaign reforms. issue of refugees, it will be still There is a tendency to go slow graduates and more investments
against the death penalty gone? On the general awareness inconceivable for to say that because of the consequences in technical education.
It has registered a lot of of the population, people are there is progress in the field of that they think will come as I want to see a Uganda where
progress the last couple of years. increasingly knowledgeable transitional justice. a result of rapid reforms. So everyone is not worried about
As I speak now, public opinion about their rights, only that they the challenge lies within the what they will eat tomorrow and
is increasingly in favour of have a weakness of claiming Civil society organisations current nature of politics in the whether their child will go to
abolishing the death penalty and them. We are proud to have made have been defending human country. The nature of politics school or hospital and everyone
now stands at 64 per cent as per some inroads in certain areas, rights for some time; why do we have cannot allow rapid feels safe.
the 2016 opinion poll. There have especially the campaigning we still have all these abuses? transformation because not More importantly, I want to
been legislative changes and against the death penalty with Generally, we face a challenge of many people are innovative. see a Uganda that is not based
now mandatory death sentences public opinion increasingly very limited efforts to translate This doesnt mean that all is lost, on ethnic division, but where
are unconstitutional in Uganda. in favour of abolishing it. rhetoric into action and yet we as there is progress in certain areas everyone is free to realise their
We have also seen increased We have also trained leaders human rights defenders, our role and we hope with time, there potential with equal opportunity
reluctance of the Judiciary in from local, parliamentary, and is to promote awareness, monitor will be a general improvement. for all.
issuing death sentences, and now judiciary, whom we think will and expose abuses. Despite the
the number of people on death be instrumental in bringing the efforts we have, the failure of the What are some of the What is your message to the
row has come down from over desired reforms. state to strengthen its structures challenges you are facing as EU?
500 to 176. and act as recommended from civil society in Uganda? I encourage the EU to continue
Many people thought we were What is your general time to time has rendered us There is a challenge of public supporting civil society and state
condoning crime and trying to assessment of the human rights more vulnerable. Much of perception; because as we institutions and also help in
exonerate murderers but this situation in the country? our progress has also been advocate for changes in policy, brokering cooperation between
campaign is about promoting I think there havent been undermined by the fast-growing practice and legislation, people the state and these non-state
effective punishment and this dramatic improvements over population in the country. expect better quality of life. actors because the primary
is life imprisonment. Effective the last couple of years generally All that leaves us without When they do not see that, their responsibility to defend and
punishment is not death because because of the poor performance significant achievements we confidence gets eroded and they protect lies with the state. I also
death occurs to anyone; it is about of the economy. Poverty is on the would otherwise have recorded. perceive us as paper tigers. encourage the countries in the
creating opportunities for people rise and this adversely impacts on Because of the way the state is EU not to break away from the
to learn from their mistakes. This the general welfare of the people. Reports have been made designed, even the polarisation union because there is strength
is about encouraging the state The crime rate has increased and implicating police as the main of our society, we are perceived in unity. The EU member
to appreciate that a reactionary state institutions are very poor human rights violators year in, more as opposition-leaning states have made tremendous
approach to problems of society at social service delivery from year out; arent you worried because as we try to initiate progress because of the power
is not effective because if the electricity and roads. There is that you are being ignored? reforms, whether electoral or of collective action. They have
state prides in killing its citizens, still a lot of corruption which As an advocacy organisation, fighting against corruption, we undoubtedly made significant
it is being reactionary instead is eroding public confidence in we impress upon them the need are seen as accusing the state; impact on world development.
of preventing the commission the state. The media freedom is to make changes in terms of so they perceive us as detractors
of these crimes. Why do you also under threat and judicial policies, disciplinary procedures and in the absence of a strong