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6th October 2018 - Uganda's human rights history

Today’s title is not wholly accurate, but it is not a lie either; and, more to the point, it fits the space! It concerns, to give it the full mouthful: “The Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Violations of Human Rights in Uganda: Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations.”

It was put in place by the so-called “Movement Government”, immediately following its winning of the so-called Six Year Bush War at the beginning of 1986. Worldwide, Uganda followed Argentina in this, and the two were in turn followed by other nations, one of which was South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
This Columnist was one of the six Commissioners chosen, under the chairmanship of Judge Arthur Oder. The others, in no particular order, were: Dr Jack Luyombya, Dr Edward Khiddu-Makubuya, Joan Kakwenzire, and John Baptist Kawanga, younger brother of Paulo Ssemogerere, leader of the Democratic Party then. The Lead Counsel was senior Lawyer Edward Ssekandi, who later became Speaker of Parliament, and is currently Uganda’s Vice President. He was assisted by State Attorneys B.C. Barishaki, now a Judge of the Appeal Court, and Tabu Jogo. The longest serving chief administrators were Ms B.N. Kalanzi and A.B. Okello. The bosses of the Police Investigation team were: M. Ntambi, Ms Joyce D. Mawa, M. Okwalinga and L. Ruyu. So many others will never be named:  the same way as the smallest fry in Armies. But they genuinely played their parts as they always will! 
I had earlier been asked what part I wanted to play in Uganda by my friend Eriya Kategaya (de facto No 2 in the Movement), now late, and had swiftly asked for any part in a body looking into the human rights of the population during the previous Uganda governments, going back to Independence. When the names were duly announced, mine wasn’t among them. I accosted Kategaya, who was gracious enough to say he had forgotten. The matter was soon set right!
How wonderful to have played our parts! The Commissioners were employed at the start for 300 shillings daily: which was the exact sum to pay for a bottle of coca cola! Of course we knew that many people had fought and died for less than that. What kept us going was to have been given this chance to be doing our bit for Nation and Country. Towards this we worked tirelessly to gather information about the poor souls who had been endlessly abused. And we gave them the impression that what had been done to them would be avenged in the Courts. I very much doubt many of these godforsaken people would have travelled to our meeting places only for the joy of witnessing the horror on our faces at what they had gone through!
Allow me the pleasure to preach to you and everyone else with ears to hear that Humanity has mostly slipped through God’s mighty Hands and landed on earth to wreak havoc to His weaker creations, born and to be born! Each of the Six Commissioners, and many others beside, is the proud owner of a complete set of our Commission Report. Just as well that we do! Otherwise it is not impossible that each one of us as we leave this mortal coil and disappear, so would our Noble Report, and all that is carried in it!
It was tiring and onerous work putting it together. To those who sometimes survived that they give their precious burden to us to put in words and pass them on to others (as we promised them and had ourselves been promised) a million abject apologies that we misled you, as we ourselves had been misled. But surely where there is breath in Humans a promise might grow overnight as a mushroom does, and the promise after all be born.
And there is yet another, though baser, reason. In our Report we had given another reason how and why our Report, plus thousands of itself in dialects across Uganda might see the Light of Day. Because millions of our people would read and see why a War had to take place (which it did!) to rid the curse from our land! Ironically enough some, especially those newly-born, see our Land today and compare what they see as being on the scale of what brought about the Six Years War! Not in a million years is that true.
Which brings me towards the Finish Line! If back in 1994, as the ink was drying on the last page of the Commission of Inquiry into Violations of Human Rights, all the other publications arising out of it were starting to be published, and distributed, what a different picture would make itself clear! The first to become a common truth would be that some ingrained views which equate one view with another are far from the truth!
This would sort the grain from the chaff in a hurry. All is not lost: it hardly ever is. But new preaching, very much including what is the great difference between The Movement’s serious sermons and those of mere Opportunists, must be clearly shown! Do we hold them still? Time to switch on the key and find out! And of course it is all down to Human Rights; right?

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