Refugees in Isingiro and Arua districts find it
hard to access justice due language barrier, a new report by the Legal Aid
Service Providers Network- (LASPNET) has revealed.
The report titled, “Report on Rule of Law,
Access to Justice, and Security Needs of Refugees and Host Communities in Arua
and Isingiro Districts,” reveals that many refugees fail to get justice due to
language barrier among other factors.
The report was compiled from a study conducted
by LASPNET in conjunction with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees
and United Nations Development in the two districts.
The study shows that many cases involving
refugees flop because they are unable to unable to speak English and other
local languages yet only a few translators are available.
The survey that was conducted between January
and October 2018 shows that some refugees have been exploited by people who
take advantage of their situation with cases of sexual assault topping the
The report notes that despite the fact that government
has taken special steps to respond to the justice and security needs of
refugees and host communities such as increased deployment of Police and
military personnel, the use of mobile courts and legal awareness sessions in
refugee settlements, Language barrier remains a serious challenge.
Sylvia Namubiru Mukasa, the Executive Director LASPNET,
says cases like sexual assault; theft and trespass are on the increase among
the refugee host communities.
She says they are advocating for the provision of
platforms for effective networking to ensure that refugees are protected
and their rights are observed.
//Cue in: “the network does…
Cue out:………of law issues:”//
Mbarara Resident judge, Dr. Flavian Zeija has
challenged government to partner with United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other
agencies to address the challenge of inadequate interpreters to support the
He says that some cases have been abandoned due
to language barrier or when some of the key witnesses opt to return to their
‘’We are at times forced to leave the cases not
only because of this, but also some witnesses go back to their countries before
justice is delivered,” he said.
The gaps identified in the report include;
shortage of facilities and human resources. For instance, Isingiro district has
1 police officer for every 2,780 people, far below the recommended
international ratio of 1:450.
Apparently, Uganda hosts the largest number of
refugees in Africa with over 1.2 million refugees mainly from South Sudan DR
Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Eritrea.
Nakivale refugee settlement in Isingiro
district, which sits on 71.3sq Km of land, hosts 109,000 refugees.