Two Ugandan lawyers Eron Kiiza and Primah Kwagala, have been shortlisted for the prestigious 2022 Human Rights Defenders Award by the European Union.
They were shortlisted alongside another local human rights defender Kayinga Yuddu Misito, the Coordinator of Community Transformation Foundation Network-COTFONE, which operates in the Greater Masaka sub-region.
Eron Kiiza, a city lawyer and the co-founder and managing partner of Kiiza and Mugisa Advocates Attorneys was shortlisted in recognition of his contribution towards human rights and environmental protection in the country.
On top of his experience in public interest litigation and active participation in human rights enforcement and standing up against gross violations by state agencies and government officials, Kiiza recently also came into the limelight when he defended and secured the release of satirical Novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija.
He was also part of the legal team that secured the release of renowned human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo in 2021 after he was arrested on allegations of money laundering.
His other notable highlights include his stance to lead a campaign against the degradation of Bugoma forest in Hoima district, leading a suit against the Uganda National Environment Authority for giving away the nature forestland illegally.
Kwagala, the chairperson of female lawyers in the Uganda Law Society and Executive Director of the Women’s Probono Initiative-WPI, was nominated for her strong resolve in defending girls and women faced with violence and discrimination.
According to the nomination statement issued by European Union on Thursday, Kwagala was partly nominated over her recent achievements that include realizing the repatriation of Ugandan women trafficked in the Middle East, uncovering the use of children by an American volunteer in Busoga, and securing the release of women unfairly imprisoned during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The European Union & the Embassy of Norway today announce the shortlist for the EU Human Rights Defenders Award 2022!
1.Human rights lawyer Eron Kiiza,
2.Women’s rights advocate Primah Kwagala, and
3.Environmental rights HRD Kayinga Yuddu Misito.
Congratulations to all. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/A1qJyJoaLV
— EU in Uganda (@EUinUG) April 28, 2022
Owing to her tremendous contributions, Kwagala was also named by the US embassy in Uganda as one of Uganda’s outstanding women of courage.
Kayinga Muddu Yisito, was nominated for his unrelenting focus on ensuring access to basic social services, youth unemployment, oil and gas management, child protection, and land property ownership.
He was specifically shortlisted for being instrumental in raising the voices of households in greater Masaka sub regions who will be affected by the development of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline-EACOP project.
“The past year, Kayinga has been particularly active in advocating on behalf of people affected by EACOP and is an active and outspoken member of the global Stop EACOP coalition. As a result of his human rights work, he has faced a number of risks.
In late February 2022, the offices of COTFONE were broken into by unknown individuals, and equipment and data, including that related to their EACOP work, were stolen, the statement reads in part.
Kayinga indicated that he was energized to continue doing human rights advocacy campaigns.
“We have been doing this work for some time, but there are people that have usually discouraged and frustrated our efforts of standing with people whose rights are violated.
Now that our contribution has been recognized, it has given us more encouragement to continue doing our activists despite the attempts to frustrate us,” he noted.
The overall winner of this year’s Human Rights Defender award will be announced on May 23rd at a ceremony that will be hosted in Kampala by the Embassy of Belgium.