Corruption: Uganda’s biggest form of human rights abuse


The only consistency of this government through the 37 years of its rule is that the endemic corruption has persisted. All because public funds are siphoned off by the leaders downwards to the bureaucrats and petty officials.

The corruption at the top is so endemic that officials down the line think nothing apart from following their leaders in lining their own pockets.

When Ugandans come out “en-masse” to vote this government into power, they are taken by the candidate’s ‘‘change’’ campaign, and his promises to rid the country of corruption. Eradicating corruption has always been the mantra of every campaign manifesto of this government.

It is important to note that the government doesn’t seem to approach the issue with such urgency until such days like the International Anti-corruption day approaches to be “celebrated” and “make merry” on 9th December by the same corrupt public officials. Definately there’s no evidence that China, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan or Thailand first reduced corruption and then developed but again tackling corruption is a pre-condition for economic growth and poverty reduction.

On this International Anti-corruption Day,  corruption must be categorised as the greatest human rights violation ever. It must be considered not merely a white collar crime but a criminal violation with intent of the worst kind.

The effects of corruption manifest in the suffering, deprivation and death of citizens. The diversion of public funds into the pockets of a few has a domino effect. When public funds meant for the development and maintenance of certain infrastructure is abused, the citizens bear the brunt.

For the masses of our people, the millions still wallowing in want and diseases, corruption is a major reason why they cannot go to school; why they cannot be gainfully employed; and why there are few doctors, nurses and drugs in their hospitals and health centres.

Internationally, billions of shillings that could have benefitted the poor have been sent to tax havens by corrupt and greedy public servants or politicians. If tax havens could be deemed illegal by international law then the corrupt would be severely penalised and imprisoned.

Corruption is a pervasive and pernicious social problem— a structural obstacle to economic growth and threat to global security.

Governments and international bodies have widely adopted principles, laws and tools for countering corruption both domestically and transnationally.

In order to place anti-corruption norms upon a stronger conceptual foundation, prioritise anti-corruption enforcement as a matter of policy, and focus that enforcement on improving the lives of corruption’s victims, we MUST acknowledge freedom from official corruption as a fundamental and inalienable human right.

The global community now widely recognises corruption involving public officials as a principal cause of human suffering and deprivation, but not as a violation of a human right.

The major rights conventions, including the United Nations and regional conventions adopted in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia, do not include freedom from “official corruption” among their enumerated rights.

Official corruption has long been treated as a transnational phenomenon that must be addressed by international bodies through treaties and cooperation by law enforcement authorities. It is a major obstacle to the spread of democracy and political freedom, balanced and sustained economic growth, and reduction of poverty across the globe.

As stated by the former head of the United Nations, The Late Kofi Annan;

“Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish. This evil phenomenon is found in all countries—big and small, rich and poor—but it is in the developing world that its effects are most destructive.”

Now is the time for governments(especially in the developing world) to empower the populace and protect them from bribery demands.

Additionally, unless the world recognizes corruption as a human rights problem and gives it the urgent importance it deserves and heavily criminalises it, corruption will continue and the poor of the world will remain poor and without justice. The corrupt will go back to Kololo or wherever on 9th December next year to “celebrate” and “make-merry”.

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