n African Human Rights Law Journal - Jurisdiction of the Uganda Human Rights Commission : making sense of the ambiguity in the jurisprudence

Volume 10, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1609-073X
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2096



In the first decade of its existence (1998-2008), the Uganda Human Rights Commission has dealt with a significant number of complaints and, in doing so, has invariably had to bear in mind its competence in terms of - although this terminology has never been employed - its jurisdiction . The jurisdiction of the Commission as a tribunal is primarily to deal with complaints alleging violations of human rights. This should not have been contentious since the bulk of complaints lodged with the Commission since 1998 concern human rights. However, from 2006, the uncertainty regarding the Commission's jurisdiction has been manifested in several decisions, especially in respect of complaints alleging violations of the rights to life and property. The Commission's jurisdiction has been contested in such complaints through preliminary objections raised on the part of the state and, although rejected in the early decisions up to 2005, the Commission has since 2006 exhibited a willingness to uphold the objections. The discourse over the Commission's jurisdiction has had implications for other aspects of the Commission's mandate (including its jurisdiction and the limitation period for presentation of complaints). Ultimately, the ambiguity over the Commission's jurisdiction is essentially a conceptual one pertaining to the nature (and content) of claims presented before the Commission and its quasi-judicial character.

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