By Olive Mukahirwa

According to President Kaguta Museveni of Uganda, government institutions have been restructured, and Uganda does not need the United Nations to maintain a Human Rights Office in Uganda anymore. Uganda can protect the human rights of its own people, Museveni said. The United Nations Human Rights Office in Uganda is pushing back on Museveni’s decision.

Museveni is 78 years old and has been in office since 1986. His government has been widely accused of abusing, imprisoning, humiliating, and killing political dissidents over a period of many years. Ugandan authorities deny these allegations and say that any security forces who violate human rights are severely punished. 

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Uganda, which was established in 2006, was responsible for monitoring the observance of human rights, especially in the northern and northeastern parts of Uganda – the area which suffered from the conflict between the Ugandan army and the fighters of the Lord’s Resistance Army. 

Though the Ugandan government shows no will to renew the UNHuman Rights Office, it confirmed it will continue to work with the UN at its permanent office in Geneva, Switzerland. 

The decision has been strongly criticized by Muwada Nkunungi, one of the members of the opposition party led by Robert Kyagulanyi, known as Bobi Wine. Nkunungi said the Ugandan government made the decision because it wants to continue to violate human rights without any accountability. 

In November 2022, a high-level official of the UN Human Rights Office said that the abuse and killing of women continues to escalate in Uganda. In their 2022 annual report, Uganda was ranked 132 out of 180 countries in freedom of the press. 

Uganda plans presidential elections in 2026, but already there are reports that Museveni is demolishing all organizations he thinks will oppose his desire to remain in power.  Museveni himself has not yet said if he plans to run again.