Article 22 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda protects an individual’s right to life to the extent that no one must be intentionally deprived of the right to life. This goes without saying that the right to life is a qualified right in as much as the state can interfere with it as authorized by the law.
However, the parameters under which such interference may be done is strictly spelt out under this Article and this includes a scenario which involves execution of a sentence passed in a fair trial by a Court of competent Jurisdiction for criminal offences and the conviction and sentence is confirmed by the highest appellate Court.
The same article also goes ahead to protect the lives of unborn children to the extent that an unborn child’s life can only be terminated as authorized by the law. Such reasons may include health wherein either the unborn baby or the mother’s life is at risk.
The right to life is a non – derogable right accorded to people and this means that this right cannot be suspended in cases where a country declares a state of emergency.
The right to life is also protected by a number of international treaties to which Uganda is party. To begin with is the African (Banjul) Charter on Human and People’s Rights.
Article 4 to be specific of this treaty states that the right to life is inviolable and as such, every human being is entitled to respect for his life and integrity of his person.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) under Article 6 also provides for the inherent right to life and also goes ahead to restrict circumstances under which the death sentence should be imposed which is only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law. In its furtherance to protect the right to life, the covenant permits anyone sentenced to death to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence.
The covenant also protects the lives of vulnerable people in regards to the death sentence and such people include offenders under the age of 18 years and pregnant women. This seeks to protect children and unborn babies from the death sentence.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in a bid to protect this right expressly spells it out under article 3 that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
The state therefore has a constitutional duty to protect the lives of its citizens as provided for under the law. Uganda having ratified the above covenants is bound by them and must therefore protect the right to life as a fundamental human right.