Jim Spire shortlisted for EU human rights award after social media activism

Kampala, (UG):- Makerere University lecturer and renowned cartoonist, Dr Jimmy Spire Ssentongo has been shortlisted for the EU Human Rights Defenders Award 2024, DailyExpress understands.

Spire, a vocal activist known for his social media campaigns against injustices and corruption in government has been shortlisted alongside two other Ugandan individuals; Jesca Ruth Ataa and Doreen Kyazze in the popular awards organised by the European Union in Uganda in partnership with the Norwegian embassy.

The award, which is now in its 13th year, is given to a human rights defender in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the advancement of human rights in their community over the past 12 months. Agather Atuhaire is the latest Ugandan to receive the award.

In a statement announcing the shortlisted candidates, the EU said Dr Ssentongo was shortlisted for using his social media platform X (formerly Twitter) to demand accountability from the government.

“In the past year, Spire has used his public platform to highlight issues of accountability through “exhibitions” on social media. This has earned him significant praise but also threats due to his exposure of wrongdoing in public life,” the EU said in a statement issued Tuesday.

“Despite the risks, he has continued to share information and take part in public debates aimed at improving the quality of public service in Uganda,” the statement adds.

On the other hand, Jesca Ruth Ataa, a human rights defender from Kotido, who heads Nakere Rural Women Activists (NARWOA), an umbrella community-based organisation for women groups also saw herself shortlisted for the award.

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NARWOA responds to humanitarian crises and addresses cross-border and inter-ethnic political instability, the rise of warlords, domestic violence and discrimination of women in society. The organization has reached over 15,000 women and 250,000 children through programmes aimed at appropriate and viable income-generating activities.

The EU also shortlisted Doreen Kyazze, a lawyer and human rights activist, who has campaigned against the death penalty. “During the past fourteen years, including her time at Penal Reform International, Doreen has campaigned against the death penalty and worked hard to secure the rights of women in detention,” said the EU in a statement.

“She has worked across the region to push for a model law on crime prevention in Africa and has also trained police, prison staff and others in the justice sector. She has also been active in drafting progressive laws and policies in Uganda,” the statement added.

“We salute each of the HRDs for their excellent work in defence of the rights of others.”

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The winner of the EU Human Rights Defenders Award 2024 will be announced during a ceremony in Kampala hosted by the Embassy of Denmark on 2nd May 2024.

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