I will ‘Carefully’ consider the proposal to serve on Human Rights Commission -Crispin Kaheru

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Crispin Kaheru nominated to the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC); Courtesy Photo

Civil rights activist and former coordinator for CCEDU, Crispin Kaheru, has said he welcomes the spirit of confidence with which he has been nominated to serve on the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), but he will consider the proposal “very carefully”

President Museveni nominated Mr Kaheru to serve as a member of UHRC alongside other nominees including Fr Simon Lokodo, Ms Shifra Lukwago and Ms Aatuheire Jacklet. Earlier, President Museveni nominated Ms Wangadya Mariam as the new Chairperson of UHRC who is set to replace Dr Meddie Kaggwa who died in November 2019.

Kaheru says, given his background, he understands the voluminous role attached to his appointment and the work that needs to be done to improve Uganda’s Human Rights record and rating, but believes UHRC working with other stakeholders has an important role to play in the Human Rights context.

The Uganda Human Rights Commission is a national Institution responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights in Uganda. It draws its mandate from Article 51(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda. In execution of its mandate, the commission carries out human rights education in communities and undertakes training of law enforcement officers. It also receives, registers and investigates complaints of human rights abuse, mediates cases through its tribunal redress mechanism, and inspects places of detention to monitor the human rights situation of inmates.

Of late, Uganda’s Human Rights record has been questioned with local and International bodies citing a rise in cases of Human Rights violations mainly by security forces. The 2021 report by Human Rights Watch highlights gross violations of freedoms of expression and assembly, arrests and harassment of opposition members and supporters, majorly committed ahead of and during the January 2021 general elections.

Asked what he thinks about the performance of the commission in execution of it’s constitutional mandate, Mr Kaheru said the commission has authored “sharp” reports but he did not speak about whether the reports have been of impact in influencing the Human Right’s record for Uganda.

According to a letter from the Clerk to Parliament, the nominees will face the parliamentary appointments committee for vetting on Wednesday 25th August 2021.

CRISPIN KAHERU’S BREIF BIOGRAPHY

Crispin Kugiza Kaheru, 38, is a distinguished Ugandan civil rights activist, a champion and defender of human rights and liberties. He has over fifteen years of international experience in designing, implementing and evaluating community level election, human rights, accountability, peace building and conflict resolution initiatives in Africa, Asia, and parts of Europe.

Kaheru holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration and Management from Makerere University Kampala (2013), a Bachelor’s degree in Political
Science from Makerere University Kampala (2005) and a Post Graduate Diploma in Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies from the Complutense
University of Madrid, Spain (2009). Kaheru also holds a Certificate in the Practice of Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) from the John F.
Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America (2018). In 2019, he completed a
United Nations’ sponsored Insider Mediators’ course at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael) in The Hague. Besides,
Kaheru has trained and practiced in NGO and corporate governance, public sector management, administrative law, and strategic management. Kaheru
spent part of his childhood in Glasgow Scotland, UK where he underwent home schooling. He is grounded in influencing teams, leading positive
change, community organizing as well as mediating and resolving conflict.

He is passionate about the nexus between governance and inclusive, sustainable and innovative development. He began his professional career in 2005 at the International Republican Institute (IRI), a US democracy promotion NGO. He worked at IRI’s Uganda, Pakistan and Bangladesh offices rising from an Intern to a Program Officer posting within three (3) years. He had a short stint at the IRI Washington DC
Office in 2009.

Between 2009 and 2019, Kaheru was the National Coordinator of the largest civic coalition in Uganda/Eastern and Southern Africa, the Citizens’
Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU). As the project head, Kaheru technically led a civic education and advocacy portfolio focused on
increasing citizens’ knowledge and participation in democratic processes. Ahead of Uganda’s 2011 elections, Kaheru led a ground breaking voter
mobilization campaign called Honour Your Vote which mobilized 59% voter turnout amidst high levels of voter apathy as well as a political boycott.

In 2016, Kaheru spearheaded the Votability voter education campaign that inspired a record 90% of eligible Ugandans to register to participate in the 2016 general elections. He later championed the implementation of the Topowa (don’t give up) multi-media messaging project that increased voter
participation from 59% in 2011 to 68% in 2016. His voter education campaigns not only received local and international recognition but
positively impacted Ugandans to meaningfully participate in elections.

Kaheru has over the past decade made significant contributions including successfully influencing legislative reform processes in Uganda, and
educating people about their civic responsibilities. He has also provided oversight to peace-building and electoral support processes in Uganda and
other countries including: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Namibia, Lesotho,
Mozambique and South Africa. Kaheru has built an extensive international network of influencers especially on issues around citizen’ participation in democratic governance, rule of law and development. Actors including the United Nations, African Union, among others, recognize Kaheru as a key
interlocutor.

Kaheru currently serves on governing boards of reputable local and international organizations. He is: Chairperson of the East and Horn of
Africa Election Observation Network (E-HORN) since 2018; Secretary of the National Initiative for Civic Education in Uganda (NICE-UG) since 2019;
Member of the African Union (AU) team of election experts since 2014; and a Member of the International Board of Media Focus International (MFI) since 2014. Kaheru was also a Member of the Board of Directors of the Anti-Corruption Coalition of Uganda (ACCU), a national entity supporting the
anti-graft crusade in Uganda (2014 – 2019).

In addition, through his broad network of civic organizations in Uganda, Kaheru has since 2016 sat on the “Working Group of Seven” government
and non-government institutions mandated to organize the National Dialogue Process for Uganda to adaptively address root causes of conflict
that have continuously threatened sustainable peace, security and development for the country and the region. Kaheru has demonstrated remarkable commitment to transforming citizen participation in governance and defending human rights. He was a nominee
for the 2017 Human Rights Defenders Award of the European Union.

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