Early this week, Muslim Center for Justice and Law (MCJL) held the first Muslim Human Rights Conference in Uganda at Hotel Africana under the theme; “Enhancing the capacity of Muslim Civil society: Towards an all inclusive approach to strengthening CSOs’ work for human rights”
It will be annual event aimed at building a momentum for the celebrations of the Human Rights Day which falls on every 8th of December.
Hundreds of participants turned up at Hotel Africana to be part of this historical event which is aimed at increasing networking and collaboration between MCJL, Muslim based civil society and other human rights actors in Uganda.
Participants included representatives of Development Partners, Diplomatic Corps, heads of human rights organisations and networks in Uganda, religious leaders, members of parliament, academia, representatives from the private sector, media practitioners and key government officials from the Justice Law and Orders Sector (JLOS).
Rt. Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga, the Speaker of Parliament and a renowned human rights defender was the guest of honour. Her speech was delivered by the State Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Hon. Godfrey Kiwanda Suubi, who represented her at the conference.
In her speech, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga hailed MCJL for coming up with the annual Muslim Human Rights Conference noting that it is a major step towards promoting and protecting human rights in Uganda.
She acknowledge the commendable services offered by MCJL in complementing existing efforts of the Government of Uganda in promoting human rights as well as enhancing access to justice for the indigent, vulnerable, and marginalized persons through a faith based approach.
The key presenters at the conference were Dr. Abdul Hafiz Walusimbi and Dr. Livingstone Sewanyana.
During plenary discussions, participants raised key human rights issues which included the growing fear among Muslims that they are being targeted by security agencies not because they are suspected extremists but because they are Muslims.
The Police Spokesperson Emilian Kayima responded to some of the concerns raised especially in regard to the police force conduct and promised to follow up on several others. He also encouraged Muslims to report all incidents in which their rights are violated or threatened, as well as the perpetrators.
The MCJL President Jaffer Senganda reassured participants that MCJL will continue to offer free legal aid to Ugandans in areas where it is operating.
During the conference, MCJL recognised various human rights defenders and inspirational personalities with special awards.
There were four award categories; the Overall Human Rights Award category, the Inspirational People’s Award category, the Community Excellence Award category and the Media Excellence Award category.
The overall Human Rights Award went to Counsel Ladislaus Rwakafuzi. He was recognised for his extra ordinary commitment and achievement in defending human rights in Uganda.
The Inspirational people’s awards went to Counsel Mayanja Twaha, Margaret Sekagya, Hajji Nsereko Mutumba, Dr. Zahara Nampewo, Justice Mukiibi Moses, Hon. Latif Sebagala and Dr. Livingstone Sewanyana.
The community Excellence award was won by the US Embassy Kampala, Trocaire, DGF, UMYA, LASPNET and the JLOS Secretariat.
Hon. Godfrey Kiwanda Suubi, Hon. Nakiwala Kiyingi and the 2nd Deputy Mufti of Uganda Shk. Ali Muhammad Waiswa presented the awards to the winners.