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Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, Chapter 4 – Human Rights and Freedoms

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Uganda’s Constitution: Chapter 4
Uga.gif (7466

The Constitution
of the Republic of

Chapter 4 Human Rights & Freedoms
Main Page

Fundamental and other human rigths and freedoms.
20. (1) Fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual are inherent
and not granted by the State.
(2) The rights and freedoms of the individual and groups enshrined in
this Chapter shall be respected,
upheld and promoted by all organs and agencies of Government and by all

Equality and freedom from discrimination.
21. (1) All persons are equal before and under the law in all spheres
of political, economic, social and
cultural life and in every other respect and shall enjoy equal protectio
n of the law.
(2) Wthout prejudice to clause(1) of this article, a person shall no
t be discriminated against on the
ground of sex, race, colour, ethnic origin, tribe, birth, creed or relig
ion, or social or economic standing,
political opinion or disability.
(3) For the purposes of this article, “discriminate” means to give dif
ferent treatment to different
persons attributable only or mainly to their respective descriptions by
sex, race, colour, ethnic origin,
tribe, birth, creed or religion, or social or economic standing, politic
al opinion or disability.
(4) Nothing in this article shall prevent Parliament from enacting law
s that are necessary for-
(a) implementing policies and programmes aimed at redressing social, e
conomic or educational or
other imbalance in society; or
(b) making such provision as is required or authorised to be made unde
r this Constitution; or
(c) providing for any matter acceptable and demonstrably justified in
a free and democratic society.
(5) Nothing shall be taken to be inconsistent with this article which
is allowed to be done under any
provision of this Constitution.
Protection of right to life.
22. (1) No person shall be deprived of life intentionally except in ex
ecution of a sentence passed in a
fair trial by a court of competent jurisdiction in respect of a crirnina
l offence under the laws of Uganda
and the conviction and sentence have been confirmed by the highest appel
late court.
(2) No person has the right to terminate the life of an unborn child e
xcept as may be authorised by

Protection of personal liberty.
23. (1) No person shall be deprived of personal liberty except in any
of the follow
(a) in execution of the sentence or order of a court, whether establis
hed for Uganda or another
country or of an international court or tribunal in respect of a crimina
l offence of ~ hich that person has
been convicted; or of an order of a court punishing the person for conte
mpt of court;
(b) in execution of the order of a court made to secure the fulfilment
of any obligation imposed on that
person by law;
(c) for the purpose of bringing that person before a court in executio
n of the order of a count or upon
reasonable suspicion that that person has committed or is about to commi
t a criminal offence under
the laws of Uganda; fd) for the purpose of preventing the spread of an
infectious or contagious
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Uganda’s Constitution: Chapter 4
(e) in the case of a person who has not attained the age of eighteen y
ears, for the purpose of the
education or welfare of that person;
(f) in the case of a person who is, or is reasonably suspected to be,
of unsound mind or addicted to
drugs or alcohol, for the purpose of the care or treatment of that perso
n or the protection of the
(g) for the purpose of preventing the unlawful entry of that person in
to Uganda, or for the purpose of
effecting the expulsion, extradition or other lawful removal of that per
son from Uganda or for the
purpose of restricting that person while being conveyed through Uganda i
n the course of the
extradition or removal of that person as a convicted prisoner from one c
ountry to another; or
(h) as may be authorised by law, in any other circumstances similar to
any of the cases specified in
paragraphs (a) to (g) of this clause.
2) A person arrested, restricted or detained shall be kept in a place a
uthorised by
(3) A person arrested, restricted or detained shall be informed immedi
ately, in a language that the
person understands, of the reasons for the arrest, restriction or detent
ion and of his or her right to a
lawyer of his or her choice.
(4) A person arrested or detained-
(a) the purpose of bringing him or her before a court in executution o
f an order of a court; or
(b) upon reasonable suspicion of his or her having committed or being
about to commit a criminal
offence under the laws of Uganda, shall, if not earlier released, be bro
ught to court as soon as
possible but in any case not later than forty-eight hours from the time
of his or her arrest.
(5) Where a person is restricted or detained-
(a) the next-of-kin of that person shall, at the request of that perso
n, be informed as soon as
practicable of the restriction or detention;
(b) the next-of-kin, lawyer and personal doctor of that person shall b
e allowed reasonable access to
that person; and
(c) that person shall be allowed access to medical treatment including
, at the request and at the cost
af that person, access to private medical treatment.
(6) Where a person is arrested in respect of a crirninal offence-
(a) the person is entitled to apply to the court to be released on bai
l and the court may grant that
person bail on such conditions as the court considers reasonable:
(b) in the case of an offence which is triable by thc High Court as we
ll as by a subordinate court, the
person shall be released on bail on such conditions as the court conside
rs reasonable, if that person
has been remanded in custody in respect of the offence before trial for
one hundred and twenty days;
(c) in the case of an offence triable only by the High Court the perso
n shall be released on bail on
such conditions as the Court considers reasonable, if the person has bee
n remanded in custody for
three hundred and sixty days before the case is committed to the High Co
(7) A person unlawfully arrested. restricted or detained bv any other
person or authority, shall be
entitled to compensation from that other person or authority whether it
is the State or an agency of the
State or other person or authority.
(8) Where a person is convicted and sentenced to a terrn of imprisonme
nt for an offence, any period
he or she spends in lawful custody in respect of the offence before the
completion of his or her trial
shall be taken into account in imposing the term of imprisonment.
(9) The right to an order of habeas corpus shall be inviolable and sha
ll not be suspended.

Respect for human dignity and protection from inhuman treatment.
24. No person shall be subjected to any form of torture, cruel, inhuman
or degrading treatment or
Protection from slavery, servitude and forced labour.
25. (1) No person shall be held in slavery or servitude.
(2) No person shall be required to perform forced labour.
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(3) For the purposes of this article, “forced labour” does not include

(a) any labour required in consequence of the sentence or order of a c

(b) any labour required of any person while that person is lawfully de
tained which, though not required
in consequence of the sentence or order of a court, is reasonably necess
ary in the interests of
hygiene or for the maintenance of the place at which the person is detai
(c) any labour required of a member of a disciplined force as part of
that member’s duties as such or,
in the case of a person who has conscientious objections to service as a
member of a naval, military
or air force. any labour which that person is required by law to perform
in place of that service;
(d) any labour required during any period when Uganda is at war or in
case of any emergency or
calamity which threatens the life and well-being of the community, to th
e extent that the requiring of
the labour is reasonably justifiable in the circumstances of any situati
on arising or existing during the
period or as a result of the emergency or calamity, for the purpose of d
ealing with that situation; or
(e) any labour reasonably required as part of reasonable and norrnal c
ommunal or other civic

Protection from deprivation of property.
26.(1) Every person has a right to own property either individually or
in association with others.
(2) No person shall be compulsorily deprived of property or any intere
st in or right over property of any
description except where the following conditions are satisfied-
(a) the taking of possession or acquisition is necessary for public us
e or in the interest of defence,
public safety, public order, public morality or public health; and
(b) the compulsory taking of possession or acquisition of property is
made under a law which makes
provision for-
(i) prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation. prior to the tak
ing of possession or acquisition
of the property; and
(ii) a right of access to a court of law by any person who has an inte
rest or right over the property.

Right to privacy of person, home and other property.
27. ( 1 ) No person shall be subjected to-
(a) unlawful search of the person, home or other property of that pers
(b) unlawful entry by others of the premises of that person. property.

(2) No person shall be subjected to interference with the privacy of t
hat person’s home,
correspondence, communication or other property.
28. (1) ln the determination of civil rights and obligations or any cr
iminal charge, a person shall be
entitled to a fair, speedy and public hearing before an independent and
impartial court or tribunal
established by law.
(2) Nothing in clause (l) of this article shall prevent the court or
tribunal from excluding the press or the
public from all or any proceedings before it for reasons of morality, pu
blic order or national security, as
may be necessary in a free and democratic society.
(3) Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall-
(a) be presumed to be innocent until proved guilty or until that perso
n has pleaded guilty;
(b) be informed immediately, in a language that the person understands
of the nature of the offence;
(c) be given adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his o
r her defence:
(d) be permitted to appear before the court in person or at that perso
n’s own expense, by a lawyer of
his or her choice;
(e) in the case of any offence which carries a sentence of death or im
prisonment for life, be entitled to
legal representation at the expense of the State;
(f) be afforded, without payment by that person, the assistance of an
interpreter if that person cannot
understand the language used at the trial:
(g) be afforded facilities to examine witnesses and to obtain the atte
ndance of other witnesses before
the court.
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(4) Nothing done under the authority of any law shall be held to be in
consistent with-
(a) paragraph (a) of clause (3) of this article, to the extent tha
t the law in question imposes upon any
person charged with a criminal offence, the burden of proving particular
(b) paragraph (g) of clause (3) of this article, to the extent tha
t the law imposes conditions that must
be satisfied if witnesses called to testify on behalf of an accused are
to be paid their expenses out of
public funds.
(5) Except with his or her consent. the trial of any person shall not
take place in the absence of that
person unless the person so conducts himself or herself as to render the
continuance of the
proceedings in the presence of that person impracticable and the court m
akes an order for the person
to be removed and the trial to proceed in absence of that person.
(6) A person tried for any criminal offence, or any person authorised
by him or her, shall, after the
judgment in respect of that offence, be entitled to a copy of the procee
dings upon payment of a fee
prescribed by law.
(7) No person shall be charged with or convicted of a criminal offence
which is founded on an act or
omission that did not at the time it took place constitute a criminal of
(8) No penalty shall be imposed for a criminal offence that is severer
in degree or description than the
maximum penalty that could have been imposed for that offence at the tim
e when it was committed.
(9) A person who shows that he or she has been tried by a competent co
urt for a criminal offence and
convicted or acquitted of that offence, shall not again be tried for the
offence or for any other criminal
offence of which he or she could have been con victed at the trial for t
hat offence, except upon the
order of a superior court in the course of appeal or review proceedings
relating to the conviction or
(10) No person shall be tried for a criminal offence if the person sho
ws that he or she has been
pardoned in respect of that offence.
(11) Where a person is being tried for a criminal offence, neither tha
t person nor the spouse of that
person shall be compelled to give evidence against that person.
(12) Except for contempt of court, no person shall be convicted of a c
riminal offence unless the
offence is defined and the penalty for it prescribed by law.

Protection of freedom of co-science, expression, movement, religion, ass
embly and

29. (1) Every person shall have the right to-
(a) freedom of speech and expression, which shall include freedom of t
he press and other media:
(b) freedom of thought, conscience and belief which shall include acad
emic freedom in institutions of
(c) freedom to practise any religion and manifest such practice which
shall include the right to belong
to and participate in the practices of any religious body or organisatio
n in a manner consistent with
this Constitution;
(d) freedom to assemble and to demonstrate together with others peacef
ully and unarmed and to
petition; and
(e) freedom of association which shall include the freedom to form and
join associations or unions,
including trade unions and political and other civic organisations.

(2) Every Ugandan shall have the right-
(a) to move freely throughout Uganda and to reside and settle in any p
art of Uganda;
(b) to enter, leave and return to, Uganda; and
(c) to a passport or other travel document.

Right to education
30. All persons have a right to education.
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Rights of the family.
31. (1) Men and women of the age of eighteen years and above, have the
right to marry and to found
a family and are entitled to equal rights in marriage, during marriage a
nd at its dissolution.
(2) Parliament shall make appropriate laws for the protection of the r
ights of widows and widowers to
inherit the property of their deceased spouses and to enjoy parental rig
hts over their children.
(3) Marriage shall be entered into with the free consent of the man an
d woman intending to marry.
(4) It is the right and duty of parents to care for and bring up their
(5) Children may not be separated from their families or the persons e
ntitled to bring them up against
the will of their families or of those persons, except in accordance wit
h the law. Affirmative action in
favour of marginilised groups
32. (I) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, the State shall
take affirmative action in favour of
groups marginalised on the basis of gender, age, disability or any other
reason created by history,
tradition or custom, for the purpose of redressing imbalances which exis
t against them.
(2) Parliament shall make relevant laws, including laws for the establ
ishment of an equal opportunities
commission, for the purpose of giving full effect to clause (1) of thi
s article.

Rights of women
33. (1) Women shall be accorded full and equal dignity of the person w
ith men.
(2) The State shall provide the facilities and opportunities necessary
to enhance the welfare of women
to enable them to realise their full potential and advancement.
(3) The State shall protect women and their rights, taking into accoun
t their unique status and natural
maternal functions in society.
(4) Women shall have the right to equal treatment with men and that ri
ght shall include equal
opportunities in political, economic and social activities.
(5) Without prejudice to article 32 of this Constitution,women shall h
ave the right to affirmative action
for the purpose of redressing the imbalances created by history, traditi
on or custom.
(6) Laws, cultures, customs or traditions which are against the dignit
y, welfare or interest of women or
which undermine their status. are prohibited by this Constitution.

Rights of children
34. (1) Subject to laws enacted in their best interests, children shal
l have the right to know and be
cared for by their parents or those entitled by law to bring them up.
(2) A child is entitled to basic education which shall be the responsi
bility of the State and the parents
of the child.
(3) No child shall be deprived by any person of medical treatment, edu
cation or any other social or
economic benefit by reason of religious or other beliefs
(4) Children are entitled to be protected from social or economic expl
oitation and shall not be
employed in or required to perform work that is likely to be hazardous o
r to interfere with their
education or to be harmful to their health or physical. mental spiritual
, moral or social development.
(5) For the purposes of clause (4) of this article, children shall b
e persons under the age of sixteen
(6) A child offender who is kept in lawful custody or detention shall
be kept separately from adult
(7) The law shall accord special protection to orphans and other vulne
rable children.

Rights of persons with disabilities
35. (1) Persons with disabilities have a right to respect and hurnan d
ignity and the State and society
shall take appropriate measures to ensure that they realise their full m
ental and physical potential.
(2) Parliament shall enact laws appropriate for the protection of pers
ons with disabilities.

Protection of minorities
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36. Minorities have a right to participate in decision-making processes
and their views and interests
shall be taken into account in the making of national plans and programm

Right to culture and similar rights
37. Every person has a right as applicable, to belong to, enjoy, practis
e, profess, maintain and
promote any culture, cultural institution, language, tradition, creed or
religion in community with

Civic rights and activities
38. (I) Every Uganda citizen has the right to participate in the affai
rs of government, individually or
through his or her representatives in accordance with law.
2) Every Ugandan has a right to participate in peaceful activities to i
nfluence the policies of
government through civic organisations.

Right to a clean and healthy environment
39. Every Ugandan has a right to a clean and healthy environment.
Economic rights.
40.(1) Parliament shall enact laws-
(a) to provide for the right of persons to work under satisfactory. sa
fe and healthy conditions;
(b) to ensure equal payment for equal work without discrimination: and

(c) to ensure that every worker is accorded rest and reasonable workin
g hours and periods of holidays
with pay, as well as remuneration for public holidays.

(2) Every person in Uganda has the right to practise his or her profes
sion and to carry on any lawful
occupation, trade or business.
(3) Every worker has a right-
(a) to form or join a trade union of his or her choice for the promoti
on and protection of his or her
economic and social interests;
(b) to collective bargaining and representation; and
(c) to withdraw his or her labour according to law.
(4) The employer of every woman worlcer shall accord her protection du
ring pregnancy and after
birth, in accordance with the law.

Right of access to information
41. (1) Every citizen has a right of access to information in the poss
ession of the State or any other
organ or agency of the State except where the release of the infor matio
n is likely to prejudice the
security or sovereignty of the State or interfere with the right to the
privacy of any other person.
(2) Parliarnent shall make laws prescribing the classes of inforrnatio
n referred to in clause (1) of this
article and the procedure for obtaining access to that information.

Right to just and fair treatment in administrative decisions
42. Any person appearing before any administrative official or body has
a right to be treated justly and
fairly and shall have a right to apply to a court of law in respect of a
ny administrative decision taken
against him or her.

General limitation on fundamental and other human rights and freedoms
43. (I) In the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms prescribed in this
Chapter, no person shall
prejudice the fundamental or other human rights and freedoms of others o
r the public interest.
(2) Public interest under this article shall not permit-
(a) political persecution;
(b) detention without trial;
(c) any limitation of the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms prescri
bed by this Chapter beyond what
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is acceptable and demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic soci
ety, or what is provided in this
Prohibition of derogation from particular human rights and freedoms
44. Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, there shall be no der
ogation from enjoyment of the
following rights and freedoms-
(a) freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or pun
(b) freedom from slavery or servitude:
(c) the right to fair hearing;
(d) the right to an order of habeas corpus.

Human rights and freedoms additional to other rights
45. The rights, duties, declarations and guarantees relating to the fund
amental and Human other
human rights and freedoms specifically mentioned in this Chapter shall n
ot be regarded as excluding
others not specifically mentioned.

Human Rights and Freedoms During a State of Emergency
46. (1) An Act of Parliament shall not be taken to contravene the righ
ts and freedoms guaranteed in
this Chapte, if that Act authorises the taking of measures that are reas
onably justifiable for dealing
with a state of emergency.
(2) The provisions of any enactrnent other than an Act of Parliament d
ealing with a state of
emergency declared under this Constitution shall apply only to that part
of Uganda where the
emergency exists.
(3) Without prejudice to clause (1) of this article, an Act enacted
in accordance with that clause may
make provision for the detention of persons where necessary for the purp
oses of dealing with the

Detention under emergency laws
47. Where a person is restricted or detained under a law made for the pu
rpose of a emergency state
of emergency, the following provisions shall apply-
(a) he or she shall. within twenty-four hours after the commencement o
f the restriction or detention, be
furnished with a statement in writing specifying the grounds upon which
he or she is restricted or
(b) the spouse or next-of-kin of or other person named by the person r
estricted or detained shall be
informed of the restriction or detention and allowed access to the perso
n within seventy-two hours
after the cormnencement of the restriction or detention;
(c) not more than thirty days after the commencement of his or her res
triction or detention, a
notification shall be published in the Gazette and in the media stating
that he or she has been
restricted or detained and giving particulars of the provisions of the l
aw under which his or her
restriction or detention is authorised and the grounds of his or her res
triction or detention.

Review by Uganda Human Rights Commission
48. (1) The Uganda Human Rights Commission shall review the case of a
person who is restricted or
detained and to whom article 47 of this Constitution applies, not later
than twenty-one days after the
commencement of the restriction or detention, and after that, at interva
ls of not more than thirty days.
(2) A person who is restricted or detained shall be permitted and affo
rded every possible facility-
(a) to consult a lawyer of his or her choice or any group of persons w
ho shall be permitted to make
representations to the Uganda Human Rights Comrnission for the review of
his or her case;
(b) to appear in person or by a lawyer of his or her choice at the hea
ring or review of his or her case.
(3) On a review of the case, the Uganda Human Rights Commission may or
der the release of that
person, or uphold the grounds of the restriction or detention.

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Report to Parliament
49. (1) in every month in which there is a sitting of Parliament, the
Minister responsible shall make a
report to Parliament in respect of-
(a) the number of persons restricted or detained under the state of em
ergency; and
(b) the action taken in compliance with the findings of the Human Righ
ts Commission.
(2) The Minister responsible shall publish every month in the Gazzette
and in the Media-
(a) the number and names and addresses of the persons restricted or de
(b) the number of cases reviewed by the Uganda Human Rights Cornmissio
n; and
(c) the action taken in compliance with the findings of the Uganda Hum
an Rights Commission.

(3) For the avoidance of doubt, it is declared that at the end of the
emergency declared under this
Constitution, any person in or under restriction, detention or custody a
s a result of the declaration of
emergency, shall be released immediately, unless charged with a crin~ina
l offence in a court of law.

Enforcement of Rights and Freedoms by Courts
50.(1) Any person who claims that a fundarnental or freedom guaranteed
under this Constitution has
been infringed or threatened, is entitled to apply to a rights and compe
tent court for redress which
may include compensation.
(2) Any person or organisation may bring an action against the violati
on of another person’s or group’s
human rights.
(3) Any person aggrieved by any decision of the court may appeal to th
e appropriate court.
(4) Parliarnent shall make laws for the enforcement of the rights and
freedoms under this Chapter.

Uganda Human Rights Commission
51. (1) There shall be a Commission called the Uganda Human Rights Com
(2) The Commission shall be composed of a Chairperson and not less tha
n three other persons
appointed by the President with the approval of Parliament.
(3) The Chairperson of the Commission shall be a Judge of the High Cou
rt or a person qualified to
hold that office.
(4) The Chairperson and members of the commssion shall be persons of h
igh moral character and
proven integrity and shall serve for a period of six years and be eligib
le for re-appointment.

Functions of Human Rights Commission
52. (1) The Commission shall have the following functions of Human
(a) to investigate, at its own initiative or on a complaint made by an
y person or group of persons
against the violation of any human right;
(b) to visit jails, prisons, and places of detention or related facili
ties with a view to assessing and
inspecting conditions of the imnates and make recommendations;
(c) to establish a continuing programme of research, education and inf
ormation to enhance respect of
human rights;
(d) to recommend to Parliament effective measures to promote human rig
hts. including provision of
compensation to victims of violations of human rights, or their families
(e) to create and sustain within society the awareness of the provisio
ns of this Constitution as the
fundamental law of the people of Uganda;
(f) to educate and encourage the public to defend this Constitution at
all times against all forms of
abuse and violation.
(g) to formulate, implement and oversee programmes intended to inculca
te in the citizens of Uganda
awareness of their civic responsibilities and an appreciation of their r
ights and obligations as free
(h) to monitor the Government’s compliance with international treaty a
nd convention obLigations on
human rights; and
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(i) to perforrn such other functions as may be provided by law.
(2) The Uganda Human Rights Commission shall publish periodical report
s on its findings and subrnit
armual reports to Parliament on the state of human nghts and freedoms in
the country.
(3) ln the performance of its functions, the Uganda Human Rights Commi
ssion shall-
(a) establish its operational guidelines and rules of procedure;
(b) request the assistance of any department, bureau, office, agency o
r person in the performance of
its functions; and

(c) observe the rules of natural justice.

Powers of the Commission
53. (1) In the perforrnance of its functions, the Commission shall hav
e the powers of a court-
(a) to issue surnrnons or other orders requiring the attendance of any
person before the Commission
and the production of any document or record rele vant to any investigat
ion by the Coommission;
(b) to question any person in respect of any subject matter under inve
stigation before the commission;
(c) to require any person to disclose any information within his or he
r knowledge relevant to any
investigation by the Commission
(d) to commit persons for contempt of its orders
(2) The Cornmission may, if satisfied that there has been an infrinaem
ent of a human right or
freedom. order-
(a) the release of a detained or restricted person;
(b) payment of compensation; or
(c) any other legal remedy or redress.
(3) A person or authority dissatisfied with an order made by the Commi
ssion under clause (‘) of this
article, has a right to appeal to the High Court.
(4) The Commission shall not investigate-
(a) any matter which is pending before a court or judicial tribunal; o
(b) a matter involving the relations or dealings between the Governmen
t and the Government of any
foreign State or international organisation; or
(c) a matter relating to the exercise ot the prerogative of mercy

Independence of the Commission
54. Subject to this Constitution, the Commission shall be independent an
d shall not, in the
perfomance of its duties, be subject to the direction or control of any
person or control authority.
55. (1) The Commission shall be self-accounting and all the administra
tive expenses including
salaries, allowances and pensions payable to persons serving with the Co
mmission shall be charged
on the Consolidated Fund.
(2) The Chairperson and other members of the Commission shall be paid
such salaries and
allowances as Parliament may prescribe.

Removal of Commissioners

56. The provisions of this Constitution relating to the removal of a Jud
ge of the High Removal of Court
from office shall, with the necessary modifications, apply to the remova
l from office of a member of the

Staff of Commission
57. The appointment of the officers and other employees of the Commissio
n shall be Staff of made by
the Commission in consultation with the Public Service Commission.

Parliament to make laws regarding functions of Commission
58. Parliament may make laws to regulate and facilitate the performance
of the functions of the
Uganda Human Rights Commission.
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Uganda’s Constitution: Chapter 4
Chapter 5 Contents
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