UWONET reacts to brutality and use of excessive force by security over COVID-19.
By Our Reporter
Uganda Women’s Network is gravely concerned about media reports, pictures and footage of the Uganda Police Force. Uganda Peoples Defence Forces, and Local Defence Units using excessive force against civilians, particularly women street vendors.
Uganda Women’s Network considers such conduct by the Security Forces whose mandate is to serve, defend and protect all Ugandans to be unlawful, unprofessional, unfortunate and unacceptable.
Such behaviour goes against the dictates of our Constitution particularly Articles 24 of the Republic of Uganda which guarantees the freedom of every Ugandan citizen from any form of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. And Article 33(3) which mandates the state to protect women and their rights, taking into account their unique status and natural maternal functions in society.
While we commend the government of Uganda for the swift measures taken to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19, we are also not oblivious of the economic impacts of some of the measures on women who form the bulk of workers in insecure labour. The complexities of these women’s realities ought to be put into consideration in implementation of the Presidential Directives on COVID-19 so as not to exacerbate already existing gender inequalities.
Therefore, in line with our mandate of promoting gender equality and rights of women for a Ugandan society free from gender- based discrimination, we recommend that;
Human rights and gender perspectives are central to the response to COVID-19. “Lockdowns, quarantines and other such measures to contain and combat the spread of COVID-19 should be carried out in strict accordance with human rights standards and in a way that is necessary and proportionate to the evaluated risk.
Mitigation strategies that specifically target the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on women and build women’s resilience for future shocks are developed and implemented by Government. We particularly propose at least two months moratoriums on evictions due to rent, mortgage and loan arrears for people belonging to vulnerable groups; and provision of universal basic income for those who have lost their livelihoods, giving priority to women in the informal sector, the elderly, homeless, refugees, and women living with disabilities.
The Security Forces curtail on the excessive use of force. We encourage the security forces to make necessary adjustments in their approach in enforcing the presidential directives on COVID-19. We recommend the use of persuasion techniques as opposed to brutalising civilians.
Full investigations into the incidents of security forces’ brutality are conducted and a report issued in this respect; and
The officers who perpetrated the use of excessive force and acts of brutality be held accountable.
We also appeal to the general public to follow the Presidential Directives and Guidelines by the Ministry of Health to protect their health and to contain the spread of COVID-19.
We further enjoin all Ugandans to avoid stigmatization of covid-19 Patients. Stigma will undermine social cohesion and prompt social isolation which might contribute to a situation where the virus is more, not less, likely to spread. The only way we will beat COVID-19 is by working as a team.