Parliament has passed a motion urging government to recognize and protect the unique languages, culture and customs of minority communities in Uganda.
The motion was moved by PWD Eastern Representative, Hellen Asamo Grace and seconded by Bbaale County MP, George Wilson Nsamba Kumama.
Asamo urged government to clearly define and recognize ethnic minorities in the country as well as put in place specific laws and guidelines for the protection of ethnic minorities.
Asamo said that despite Article 36 of the 1995 Constitution providing for the rights of minorities and guarantees their right to participate in decision-making processes, these groups still suffer numerous challenges and if not protected are likely to become extinct.
“These minority groups suffer from negative perceptions of their ways of life, traditional livelihoods, occupations and land use leading to the loss of their identity, language, cultures and customs as well as their subjugation by their more dominant neighbors,” Asamo said.
The legislator highlighted other challenges that threaten the existence of these indigenous groups, including the lack of security in land tenure, marginalization in terms of political representation, exclusion from government programs, human rights violations among others.
These violations include forced evictions from their ancestral lands, violence, intimidation and destruction of their properties and historical injustices such as the demarcation of national boundaries as well as the creation of national parks and game reserves during the colonial period, she said.
Unless remedial measures are undertaken to address the challenges and historical injustices suffered by the minority communities in Uganda, she told the House, these communities will lose their unique culture, language and identity resulting in their extinction.
Government was urged to address historical injustices suffered by ethnic minorities in Uganda and ensure their right to access and occupy their historical sites especially those located in protected areas is recognized and protected.
Abim District MP, Janet Grace Okori-moe who seconded the motion said that these minorities are ignored yet they have people who are as capable as those from other tribes.
“Through hardships, engineers and doctors among other professionals have emerged from these minorities but have not been recognized when it comes to things like political appointments,” she said.
Padyere county MP, Joshua Anywarach called for the recognition of all the ethnic minorities as indigenous groups and citizens by decent under the Registration Act.
He said that the acknowledgment of the minorities elevates their status on the international scene for them to benefit from the forms of affirmative action meant for them.
“In a UNESCO conference, it was proposed that these minority groups are recognised by their home states so that they can benefit from projects, resources and other amenities tailored for minority groups,” Anywarach added.