UPR submission Uganda
On 15 July 2021, Lawyers for Lawyers submitted a report for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Uganda. The next UPR of Uganda will take place in January 2022.
In the report, Lawyers for Lawyers highlights that Uganda is currently not consistently upholding the necessary guarantees for the proper functioning of the legal profession and is therefore not fulfilling the requirements set out in the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.
Lawyers for Lawyers expresses concern on various issues with regards to the effective guarantees for the functioning of lawyers. The first issue that lawyers in Uganda brought to the attention of Lawyers for Lawyers is the lack of access to clients. Lawyers reported that it is customary to pay guards in order to gain access to their clients in prison. Also, especially lawyers who are defending clients from the LGBTQ+ community often face intimidation from prison staff. Another issue of concern is that a result of the recently passed Sexual Offences Bill 2019 there is a fear that same sex-relationships will be further stigmatized, and thereby justify the hindrance and mistreatment of lawyers defending LGBTQ+ clients.
Further, Lawyers for Lawyers is concerned about the regular occurrence of break-ins where information carriers are stolen from offices, causing issues for lawyer-client confidentiality. Besides, Lawyers for Lawyers received reports from Ugandan lawyers that lawyers working on politically sensitive cases face arbitrary arrests, intimidation and hindrances in carrying out their professional duties. The office break-ins and the lack of investigation into these break-ins by the authorities are examples of this.
Lastly, due to the NGO Act that was passed in 2016 lawyers working for NGOs face further difficulties when exercising their professional activities. For example, lawyers working for NGOs have increasing difficulty in obtaining a license to work as a lawyer.
Lawyers for Lawyers has made multiple recommendations to the government of Uganda.