THE EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES ACT
The powers of the Commission are provided under sections 14 and 15 of the Equal Opportunities Commission Act, 2007.
They are as follows:
The functions of the Commission are to monitor, evaluate and ensure that policies, laws, plans, programs, activities, practices, traditions, cultures, usages and customs of:
- Organs of state at all levels;
- Statutory bodies and agencies;
- Public bodies and authorities;
- Private businesses and enterprises;
- Non governmental organizations, and
- Social and cultural communities,
Are compliant with equal opportunities and affirmative action in favour of groups marginalized on the basis of sex, race, colour, ethnic origin, tribe, creed, religion, social or economic standing, political opinion, disability, gender, age or any other reason created by history, tradition or custom.
Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) the Commission may:
- Investigate or inquire into, on its own initiative or on a complaint made by any person or group of persons, any act, circumstance, conduct, omission, programme, activity or practice which seems to amount to or constitute discrimination, marginalization or to otherwise undermine equal opportunities;
- Examine any law, proposed law, policy, culture, tradition, usage, custom or plan which is likely to have effect of nullifying or impairing equal opportunities to persons in employment or enjoyment of human rights.
- Develop, conduct and manage information and educational programs to facilitate and promote public awareness, understanding and acceptance of equal opportunities and treatment in employment, occupation, education and all social services;
- Undertake research and organize, coordinate and promote workshops, seminars, conferences and public discussions on equal opportunities and treatment in employment, education, social services or social and cultural construct of roles and responsibilities in society;
- Consider such recommendations, suggestions and requests concerning the promotion of equal opportunities as it may receive from any source;
- Prepare and publish, guidelines for implementation of equal opportunities and the avoidance of acts, practices, usage, customs, tradition or cultures that undermine equal opportunities;
- Monitor the compliance, in Uganda, with the provisions of international and regional conventions, treaties and other instruments to which Uganda is a party, that relate to or are relevant to the functions and objects of the Commission;
- perform such other functions that are incidental or conducive to the above functions.
The Commission may rectify, settle or remedy any act, omission, circumstance, practice, tradition, culture, usage or custom that is found to constitute discrimination, marginalization or which otherwise undermines equal opportunities through mediation, conciliation, negotiation, settlement or other dispute resolution mechanism.
Subject to subsection (3) the Commission may hear and determine complaints by any person against any action, practice, usage, plan, policy programme, tradition, culture or custom followed by any organ, body, business organization, institution or person which amounts to discrimination, marginalization or undermines equal opportunities.
In the performance of its functions under this Act, the Commission shall have the powers of a court to:
- Require the attendance before the Commission of any person;
- Require the production of any books, papers or documents;
- Inspect any books, papers, materials or documents produced before it or otherwise and;
- Retain any such books, papers, materials, or documents for such reasonable period as the Commission deem fit;
- Make copies of any of them, or their contents;
- Require any person to make oath or affirmation to answer truthfully all questions put by member s of the Commission relating to any matter being inquired into by the Commission;
- Require any person appearing before the Commission, including the person whose conduct is subject to an inquiry, whether summoned to appear or not, to answer any question put by any member of the Commission, or by any other person appearing before the Commission.
Subject to subsection (3), where a person:
- Who has been served with a summons to attend before the Commission fails without reasonable excuse to attend in obedience to the summons; or
- Who has been served with a summons to produce any books, papers, materials or documents fails without reasonable excuse to comply with the summons;
- Misbehaves before the Commission, willfully insults the Commission or a member of the Commission, or interrupts the proceedings of the Commission;
- Refuses to be sworn or to affirm or to answer a question when required to do so by the Commission, that person commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred currency points or imprisonment not exceeding nine months or both.
In the course of its proceedings, the Commission may:
- Receive in evidence the transcript of evidence in proceedings before a court or tribunal and draw such conclusions of fact from that evidence as it considers proper; or
- Adopt, as in its discretion it considers proper, any findings, decision or judgment of a court or tribunal that may be relevant to the proceedings.
In the discharge of its functions, the Commission may:
- Refer any matter to any other institution, body, tribunal or authority which, in the opinion of the Commission can best handle that matter;
- Recommend to or order any institution, body, authority or person to adopt or take particular steps or action which, in the opinion of the Commission will promote equal opportunities;
- Recommend to any Minister, institution, body or authority to adopt a new legislation which is promoting equal opportunity, and the institution, body, authority, person or Minister shall implement or cause the implementation of the recommendation within six months from the date of communication of the recommendation. Powers of the Commission
The Commission may, in writing, delegate to a member of the Commission any of its powers or functions under this Act other than this power of delegation.
The Commission shall not investigate:
- Any matter which is pending before a court or judicial tribunal or is under investigation by another constitutional commission.
- A matter involving the relations or dealings between the Government of Uganda and the government of any foreign state or international organization;
- A matter relating to the exercise of the prerogative of mercy; or.
- Any matter involving behaviour which is considered to be:
- Immoral and socially harmful, or
- Unacceptable, by the majority of the cultural and social communities in Uganda.
In the performance of its functions, the Commission:
- May establish its opera tional guidelines and rules of procedure;
- May request the assistance of any department, bureau, office, agency or person in the performance of its functions; and
- Shall observe the rules of natural justice.
If the Commission is satisfied that there has been marginalization or discrimination on the basis of sex, age, race, colour, ethnic origin, tribe, birth, creed or religion, health status, social or economic standing, political opinion or disability, it may order: payment of compensation, or any other legal remedy or redress. However any person or authority dissatisfied with an order made by the Commission has the right to appeal to the High Court.