By Andrew Irumba
Kampala: The sexual abuse scandal involving a Director at the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, and a Senior Attorney at the Ministry of Health, is being investigated by the Solicitor General Francis Atoke.
Samantha Mwesigye, who works with the Ministry of Health’s legal department, accuses Christopher Gashirabake, the Director of Legal Affairs in the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ministry of subjecting her to sexual harassment for over 10 years. Mwesigye claims that despite trying everything possible to seek justice from all concerned government authorities, she has never been helped. However, after the sexual abuse scandal going viral in the media, government, through the office of the Solicitor General, has responded to Mwesigye’s allegations of sexual harassment by Gakirabake. Mr. Atoke, the S.G, on Tuesday issued a statement indicating that he constituted a Committee as required by the Employment (sexual harassment) regulations 2012 on February 6th 2019 to investigate the complaints. “The committee is chaired by the Administrator General and other senior officials from the Ministry e.g. the Secretary Law Council, the Acting Undersecretary Finance and Administration and the Assistant Commissioner Human Resources Management,” reads the statement in part.
He says that the Committee has since reviewed the evidence that Mwesigye submitted to his office in line with the Employment Act 2006 and Employment (Sexual harassment) Regulation 2012. On April 29th, 2019, the Committee requested Mwesigye to submit additional evidence, if any, related to the allegations. She provided the said evidence on May 5th, 2019 inform of emails and WhatsApp messages between her and Gashirabake. “The Committee has similarly written to the accused to tender in his response to the allegations,” the statement reads. Atoke says that the Justice Ministry has taken every effort to address the allegations through established structures and will continue to handle the matter to its conclusion.
“The Ministry remains firm that the committee will do a thorough job and as soon as its investigations are complete, a report will be submitted to the top management of the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, with recommendations for appropriate action,” he said. Mwesigye said that she had reported the matter to different agencies but wasn’t helped. A conversation she had with the Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda on March 3rd on social media has since gone viral. “I know this is a break in protocol but am at work ends. I have done everything to follow protocol but the system seems orchestrates to frustrate me” she wrote. She claimed that she had reported the matter to the Solicitor General in September last year and requested a sexual harassment committee be set up to investigate the matter but nothing was done. Mwesigye noted that she had exercised restraint in ensuring that the matter doesn’t become public to protect the institution but that she also needed to be protected. She explained that she was even being frustrated and that she had intended to attend a UN procurement course in Washington using her own funds but the Ministry denied to recommend her as her employer. It should however be noted that several women in Uganda are being sexually violated by their employers and many of them prefer to keep silent for fear of losing their jobs an being stigmatized.