n African Human Rights Law Journal - A step forward in the protection of urban refugees : the legal protection of the rights of urban refugees in Uganda

Volume 17 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1609-073X
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2096



Forced displacement and rising numbers of urban refugees over the past three decades have emerged as a burning human rights concern. The rights of refugees and their protection by states have long been recognised by international law. The primary international human rights instruments that promote and protect the rights of refugees in Africa are the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, its 1967 Protocol, and the 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa. Uganda, a state party to the 1951 Convention and the 1969 Convention, has adopted laws to promote and protect the rights of refugees in this country. These include the 1995 Constitution, the Refugees Act of 2006 and the Refugees Regulations of 2010 which guarantee the rights of refugees to reside in on-camp settings, and to work and make a living. However, it is argued that one of the gaps in the national framework is the protection of the rights of refugees residing in urban settings. The international and regional refugee laws are not clear on the benchmark against which to appraise state compliance. In light of the foregoing, the article explores the normative content of the 1995 Constitution and Ugandan Refugee Act of 2006, and observes that these laws and policies are progressive and yet generally fall short of most international human rights standards and best practices. Therefore, it argues that the progressive legal framework is not sufficient if not backed by a responsive and appropriate administrative system that is procedurally fair and just.

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