The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda provides for a class of fundamental rights which cannot be taken away irrespective of any circumstance. The law refers to them as non–derogable rights and these include;
- freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,
- freedom from slavery or servitude,
- the right to fair hearing, and
- the right to an order of habeas corpus.
In regards to freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the law was created to protect the people from any form of torture even in the worst of situations for example during civil wars. As a result, most violators of these freedoms during times like civil wars are usually answerable to the Courts in the land or the International Criminal Court. It is therefore unlawful to violate this right.
The right to freedom from slavery or servitude is another non-derogable right and this emphasizes the fact that all human beings deserve to be free under any circumstance. The only time a person may not be free is if they have been apprehended under the law. This goes without saying that the law sought to put away the haunting era of slave trade which saw man as more of a slave and did not offer them a dignified life which is everyone’s right. Therefore, even in the worst of cases, no one deserves to be taken in as a slave.
The right to fair hearing is also another of the non -derogable right which cannot be violated under any circumstance. This right must be upheld at all times irrespective of the circumstance. This follows our criminal presumption of innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, the right to fair hearing gives a person a chance to defend themselves.
The last of the non-derogable rights is the right to an order of habeas corpus which simply means the right to the production of a body to Court hearings. This emphasises that an accused has a right to be produced in Court at all times unless the accused physical condition does not aid him or her to be in Court. This helps to avoid the issues of detentions without hearings and imprisonments without being produced in Court.
It is important to note that the mere fact that these are non- derogable rights does not mean that they are not violated. It so happens that they are the most violated rights in this country. It is therefore a question of holding the perpetrators accountable for such violations a step which few Ugandans are willing to take.