In December 1998, the United Nations General Assembly (in its Resolution 53/111) established an open-ended and ad-hoc intergovernmental committee to develop a comprehensive international convention against transnational organised crime. Two years later, following eleven sessions and the participation of more than 120 states, the committee concluded its work with a solemn document that came to be known as the ‘United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.’ Adopted by the UN General Assembly Resolution 55/25 of 15 November 2000, it was subsequently open for signature at a High-Level Intergovernmental Meeting convened in the city of Palermo,Italy, in December 2000.
Trafficking in Persons remains a pervasive global issue with significant consequences for the physical and psychosocial wellbeing of victims/survivors. Pushed into trafficking situations by a wide range of circumstances, victims of human trafficking often end up in cycles of (forced) migration and (lethal) exploitation with far-reaching and often underestimated medical, psycho-social, economic and political consequences. Uganda, with its very youthful demographic profile,1 has seen many of its young people (including boys and girls) trafficked to the Middle East and beyond under poorly regulated Externalisation of Labour Companies schemes.
Every 21st day of September, the World comes together to commemorate the International Day of Peace. As noted by the United Nations, this year it has been clearer than ever that we are not each other’s enemies. Rather, our common enemy is a tireless virus that threatens our health, security and very way of life. In 1981 the United Nations General Assembly established the International Day of Peace, and in 2001 it unanimously voted to designate the day as a period of non-violence and cease-fire. It is perhaps this spirit that prompted the Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres on the 23 March 2020 to appeal for a global ceasefire amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Every 21st day of September, the World comes together to commemorate the International Day of Peace. As noted by the United Nations, this year it has been clearer than ever that we are not each other’s enemies. Rather, our common enemy is a tireless virus that threatens our health, security and very way of life. In 1981 the United Nations General Assembly established the International Day of Peace, and in 2001 it unanimously voted to designate the day as a period of non-violence and cease-fire.
As an institution working with forced migrants and people affected by conflict, we interface with and support victims of torture by providing medical rehabilitation and psychosocial support. The 26th June, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, is an thus an important date in our annual calendar. Proclaimed by the UN General Assembly by resolution A/RES/52/149, the annual day was established with a view to the total eradication of torture and the effective functioning of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. 22 years later, and in the midst of a pandemic, we are not yet there. The focus, instead, is on how torture has in some respects increased in the era of COVID-19.
As a refugee serving organisation with 20 years of unstinting support to forced migrants and 20 years of continuous advocacy on issues of forced migration, we warmly welcome the theme of this year’s World Refugee Day: “Every Action Counts”. We join the Uganda Government through Office of the Prime Minister and UNHCR, in sharing successes realised in the protection and promotion of rights of forced migrants, and in renewing our commitment to work together to tackle the barriers impeding refugees and asylum seekers from leading dignified lives.
19 June 2020 marks the 5th year since the United Nations General Assembly established (through resolution A/RES/69/293) the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict to sustain support for ending sexual violence in conflict, and to honour millions of victims and survivors globally. This year the focus is on Empowering Survivors of Sexual Violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, COVID-19 has heightened the challenges of survivors/victims of sexual violence. Recently dubbed the ‘shadow pandemic’ due to the heightened challenges that survivors/victims grapple with amidst global lockdown, the need to eliminate sexual violence cannot be overstated.
It’s 44 years since black South African students from Soweto protested the 1953 Bantu Education Act (also known as Education of black people), a predatory law that ‘legalised’ enforcement of racially separated education in South Africa. Commemorated every year since 1991, this day reminds Africa of the need to step up the protection of its children, an important day in the quest for a free and fair world for children.
Since June 20 was declared World Refugee Day by the UN General Assembly in 2000 the number of refugees and other forced migrants has escalated dramatically. 105 years since the World Day of Migrants and Refugees was instituted by Pope Pius X in 1914, and 68 years since the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees was established, Uganda is currently hosting 1,257,729 refugees and asylum seekers (figures as of 30 April 2019) – the highest in Africa and equivalent to the population of Mauritius.
This year’s theme, “Take a Step #WithRefugees - Protect the Environment”, which is being commemorated at Alaba Primary School Football Ground in the country’s largest refugee settlement, Bidibidi in Yumbe District, is very timely!
We are happy to share the translated versions of the press statement in the languages below (Alphabetically arranged)
“Torture is real, speak up, take actions”, the theme of this year’s UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (every 26th June since 1998) rallies all of us, whether government, civil society, academics, media or ordinary citizens, to recognise the emergent reality of what torture is, to strategically identify, name and speak out against the multiple forms torture can take, and to take the actions we can to dignify and create pathways to healing for victims of torture.