Human Rights Commission urged to engage stakeholders on nuclear weapons treaty

MPs on the Committee of Foreign Affairs have tasked the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) to engage more stakeholders on the ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The committee wants UHRC to establish why Uganda has taken a slow pace in considering the ratification of this treaty, which they say will inform Parliament in its decision on the matter.

“It is not only Uganda, but also other African countries that have not moved fast in signing this treaty. Super powers that have nuclear weapons and energy have been slow on this treaty. Let us first find out why this is so before our country commits to this treaty,” said Hashim Sulaiman (NRM, Nebbi Municipality).

“What do we gain or lose if we sign or not sign the treaty?” he asked.

Committee Deputy Chairperson, Hon Boaz Ninsiima reiterated concerns related to absence of super power countries in the treaty.

“Countries like China, United States and France among others who are the masters of human rights issues have not ratified this Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Treaty but Uganda is being urged to ratify it,” said Ninsiima.

The MPs made the comments while receiving recommendations from UHRC that made recommendations for the government to sign and ratify the treaty.

Nakasongola County MP, Noah Mutebi said the human rights commissions of countries party to the East African Community ought to be engaged so as to get a common voice on the signing and ratification of the treaty.

“What is the position of the Human Rights Commission of South Sudan, Rwanda, Kenya or Tanzania? Do you have a common position? These are your sister agencies in those countries,” Mutebi said.

Jenifer Muheesi (NRM, Kazo) said the views of other stakeholders will play well in the recommendations made by the Uganda Human Rights Commission on ratifying the treaty.

“You could have a meeting with all stakeholders like the Ministry of Defence and then come up with one position that will help us to understand it more before we make our final communication on the Floor of Parliament,” said Muheesi.

In her presentation, UHRC Commissioner, Shifrah Lukwago, also urged the government to ratify the UN Arms Trade Treaty that came into force on December 24, 2014, which regulates international trade in conventional weapons.

“Government should ensure continued international commitment to the non-proliferation treaty which prohibits the use of materials and technology that are a threat to international and national security,” said Lukwago.

She cited human rights concerns that could be affected with delayed ratification progress, including security, right to health, right to life and health, as well as right to freedom from torture.

Lukwago also recommended that the Ministry of Internal Affairs should strengthen cross border cooperation and coordination to avoid infiltration of illegal firearms.

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