UPDF forces and officials of other government-related military security agencies have committed multiple abuses of the rights of northern Ugandans, including summary execution, torture, rape, child recruitment, and inhuman conditions of detention in unauthorized detention locations. They are rarely prosecuted for crimes committed against civilians. Even when UPDF abuses have been investigated, the investigations have sometimes been kept internal and therefore have created an appearance of impunity, which has not improved public trust.
UPDF responses to allegations of abuses against civilians, such as rape, unlawful killing, and torture, range from the crime going unpunished, to being "punished" by transferring the accused, to the court martial of some individual soldiers without proper investigation, all the way to the rare court martial. Often it appears that the action followed, or the punishment meted out is at the sole discretion of the individual field commander.196
The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) began seeking monetary damages against the Attorney General for some torture victims, although the amounts awarded by the Uganda Human Rights Tribunal were not quickly paid.197 In 2003 several victims of human rights abuses sought damages for torture through civil suits in the court in Gulu against the Attorney General.198
The best-known case of summary execution occurred on September 16, 2002, when four UPDF mambas (armored vehicles) full of UPDF soldiers raided Gulu Prison. The raid was conducted under the command of the head of military intelligence of Operation Iron Fist, Lt. Col. Charles Awany Otema. According to eyewitness reports by prison inmates and confirmed by the assistant superintendent of Gulu Central Prison,199 prison authorities (wardens) refused entry to the soldiers after the UPDF officers failed to produce a search warrant or any other document permitting them to enter.
The UPDF soldiers beat and pushed aside the prison wardens, as they forced their way into the prison. Captain Rugadia, of the intelligence division of Internal Security, ordered twenty-three prisoners by name out of their cells.200 A UPDF officer singled out a prisoner known as "Yumbe," Peter Oloya, who was accused of planning to escape from the prison. That officer then ordered the soldiers to shoot Peter Oloya.
The prison wardens rejected this accusation and tried to stop the killing, arguing with the UPDF that no one would try to escape from the prison with so many soldiers present, and therefore there was no reason to shoot any prisoner. Nevertheless, the UPDF soldiers shot Peter Oloya in the back, with the bullet exiting his chest. Everyone panicked and another prisoner was almost shot.
The soldiers hastily loaded the twenty-two prisoners, together with the dead body of Peter Oloya, on the mambas, ordering them to lie down flat. They took the prisoners straight to the quarter guard at the army barracks detention center in Gulu. The UPDF took Peter Oloya's body away and has not released it to his relatives for burial as of the writing of this report. This event, and the subsequent torture of the prisoners at the Gulu barracks, has generated a number of civil suits, and actions by the UHRC.
The UPDF claimed it had to move the prisoners from Gulu Prison based on military intelligence's discovery of a planned rescue attempt by the LRA.
Torture and Ill-Treatment by the UPDF
In early October 2002 Colonel Otema allegedly told the prisoners that they would be released from the barracks and from custody if they gave evidence that Kiiza Besigye (presidential candidate for the 2001 presidential elections202) was supporting and financially supplying the LRA and was recruiting an army to fight against the government. Most of the prisoners were suspected of supporting the political opposition. 203 Some were relatives of LRA commanders, including the lone woman who was gang-raped; she was the maternal aunt of Joseph Kony.204
On November 14, 2002, after public protests against the UPDF action, the prisoners were again loaded into military trucks and transferred back to Gulu Prison. Three remained there and the nineteen others were taken to Kigo Prison between Kampala and Entebbe.205
In February 2003 members of parliament visited Kigo Prison and interviewed, among others, two of these nineteen, who said that the UPDF tortured them during their stay in the UPDF Gulu barracks.206 Aida Lagulu claimed that she was gang-raped during her detention there.207 Tony Kitara, the local councilor-III of Bungatira, Gulu district, reported that he was tortured in Gulu barracks. He also alleged that the army kept snakes in the torture cell.208 The prisoners were also interviewed by the UHRC, which later sought damages from the Tribunal of the UHRC on their behalf on account of the UPDF abduction and torture of the prisoners from the Gulu Prison.209
The remaining nineteen prisoners in Kigo Prison were transferred back to Gulu Prison, where they were charged with treason and where they must remain on remand for a total of 360 days before they can present their case to any court and apply for bail. 210
In a separate case, Stephen O., a twenty-five-year-old man from Laibi in Gulu municipality, lost a leg after UPDF soldiers shoot him outside a shop and later came back to make sure he was dead. According to him, on September 15, 2002, he went on his bicycle to the trading center to buy paraffin. Just before he entered the shop some UPDF soldiers ordered the shopkeeper to close up. Two of the soldiers came up to him, placed him under arrest, asked him about his home, and started beating him with the butts of their guns.
One soldier, addressing the victim in Kiswahili, ordered him to run but the victim did not understand him and ignored the order. The other soldier, from Teso in eastern Uganda, told him (in a language he understood) to run "otherwise I would be shot. I started to run and they shot at me. They hit me in my leg."
The Teso soldier ordered the many people around the shop to leave. The victim lost consciousness and woke up three hours later and started crawling into a nearby hotel. He heard the soldiers coming back to check on him and one said, "I told you the guy's leg was not shot properly, so he escaped."
The victim hid under a bed in a hotel room but the soldiers, after more searching, found him and took his identification card. He played dead. More soldiers came in and argued over whether the victim was dead or not. Searching his belongings, they took 1,000 Ugandan shillings (U.S. $ 0.60) from his pockets, and left. Two soldiers came back, dragged the victim from the room, and threw him into the bush. Early in the morning, he managed to reach a nearby house and ask for help.
The victim's leg was amputated in Lacor hospital in Gulu but he did not take his medical form, describing his injuries, to the police afterward. He did not see any reason for doing this because, "There are so many people who were shot by UPDF in my area and nothing happened, nothing will happen when I bring the form to the police." 211
Torture is inflicted on some people held in military detention facilities by UPDF soldiers. After David O. was arrested for alleged collaboration with rebels on January 22, 2003, UPDF soldiers under the command of a second lieutenant, whose name the victim provided, allegedly burned David O. by pouring melting plastic from a jerry can over his shoulders and back.
The incident was reported to a local human rights organization. According to the report, David O. was initially arrested by members of the Kalangala Action Plan, and the torture allegedly took place in their presence. Subsequently the case developed its own momentum. The UPDF arrested and reportedly tortured members of David O.'s family inside the army detachment to force them to disclose the name of the person who had reported the case to the human rights group. Under coercion, they provided the name of the paralegal of Olwal IDP camp, who was then arrested and kept in detention at the army detachment in Olwal camp.
David O., the torture victim, was asked to pay 35,000 Ugandan shillings (U.S. $ 21) for his release, but he refused. He was later sent to the hospital for treatment of his back, which was badly injured.
Lt. Paddy Ankunda, public relations officer of the Fourth Division, told Human Rights Watch that there was no statement recorded on the allegation of torture of David O. Later he said that the second lieutenant allegedly in charge of the torture was in the field. Three days later the accused paralegal was released.
A lawyer for David O. filed a civil complaint for damages against the attorney general on March 24, 2003.212
A sixteen-year-old abductee LRA soldier, Peter O., was shot at by the UPDF when he approached a roadblock, still wearing his LRA uniform, to surrender. The soldiers shot at him three times, but failed to hit him. "I started rolling and then raised my hands in surrender, so the commander ordered them to stop shooting."213
The UPDF beat him badly. The soldiers asked where his guns were, removed his uniform, and gave him very dirty clothes. "They started beating me in the barracks, loaded me on a vehicle and took me to Miajakulu detachment" where he said he was kicked and beaten "until I was sure my backbone was broken. I was tied in the three-point way and kicked. I really regretted my decision to surrender. [LRA leader Joseph] Kony told us that the UPDF will kill you and I felt it was true."214
Sexual violence, including rape and defilement,215 appear to have risen in the north as a result of the current conflict, with adolescent girls at greatest risk. A 2001 survey found that in Gulu, girls identified "rape and defilement" as their third most important concern behind "insecurity, abduction and murder" and "displacement."216
The apparent increased incidence of rape is associated with the increased presence of the UPDF and the vulnerability of the displaced population. Girls are vulnerable to sexual assault when traveling from IDP camps to work in the fields of their original homes, and when traveling into town in the evenings as "night commuters." Young boys are also at risk.
There is a social stigma attached to being raped. The perception that abused women should feel guilty and might have seduced the rapists is still prevalent in Acholiland, according to the program coordinator of Caritas' women's desk, Sister Margaret Aceng. People's Voice for Peace reports documented several cases where women were abandoned by their husbands or communities after they reported being raped to the police.
The case of Mrs. Paska, forty-eight years old, mother of eleven, and a widow, exemplifies the dilemma of many raped women. She found herself grief-stricken over being raped and also over the death of one of the twins born as a result of the rape. She was pained by her in-laws' comments that "`I knew the soldier or else how could he come to me.'" She stated, "My in-laws do not want this child and even my older children do not want this child."217
Even when the family of the rape victim is supportive, the perpetrators identified, and the case reported to the police, the result is discouraging because many women do not want to draw more attention to themselves. In addition, women may be discouraged from reporting cases of rape by soldiers because most reports are not followed through, the violators are transferred to another unit, and the case might be stuck at the local police or army detachment where it was reported.
Human Rights Watch interviewed two cousins, ages thirteen years and nineteen years, raped by two UPDF soldiers on October 12, 2002. Joanna A. and Alice O. went with Joanna's mother from the displaced persons camp where they lived to their garden in the early morning to work. Returning to the camp at about ten o'clock in the morning, they met two uniformed soldiers at a junction in the road. The soldiers told them to sit on the ground. Then they asked if they had chickens at home. The mother replied in the affirmative, and one soldier then said, "If they are there, let's go and get them."
Although the mother wanted to return to the camp on the regular path, the soldiers wanted to move through the bush. At a certain point, one of the soldiers stopped and began to prepare the ground, stepping on the grass. According to one of the teenagers, Joanna A.,
Upon release, Joanna A., Alice O., and Joanna's mother immediately reported the rape to the camp's local councilor, the local army commander, and the local police.219 One of the soldiers was apprehended and taken back to the barracks, where he was reportedly beaten. The other returned to the barracks that night and family members of the rape victims were told he was beaten also. However, two days later, the unit was transferred out of the area.
Family members lodged two complaints with the Fourth Division of the UPDF, as well as with the UHRC. Although the names and the army identification numbers of both soldiers are known, to date, no legal or disciplinary action has been taken.220
The soldiers did not use condoms, and both survivors were fearful that they were infected with the HIV virus. Joanna said, "People tell us we will die. They say the soldiers may be infected. I think about it a lot."
Both Joanna and Alice were tested for the HIV virus after the rape, and the results were positive.
The ARLPI received reports of more than twenty-seven women and girls raped by UPDF soldiers in Kitgum and Pader districts between June and December 2002. Among the incidents reported to ARLPI were gang rapes of three different women by three different groups of UPDF soldiers in Kalongo on August 25; rapes of several young girls and women in Lagile Parish on September 22; the rape of a young girl by two UPDF soldiers at Puranga trading center on October 28; and rapes of several women by UPDF soldiers from Aptongo barracks on November 1.221
Lt. Paddy Ankunda, the public relations officer (PRO) for the Fourth Division of the UPDF in Gulu, denied that there was a lack of legal redress for the rape victims. He insisted that, "In all cases of harassment of civilians by the army the culprits are brought to the book. We take action and follow the case. There are no cases where rapists were transferred."222
In Matere, Kitgum district, according to a women's rights activist, a group of women visiting a mother and her newborn were gang-raped by twenty UPDF soldiers on January 16, 2003. They had been followed to the home of the new mother by the group of soldiers. The soldiers entered the compound and ordered the women to lie down, at gunpoint. They raped the women there and threatened them with death if the women reported the rapes: "Should we hear anything about you, you are all dead."
Even when the perpetrator has been identified, according to a local credible source, women fear reporting crimes committed by the UPDF. In the case of a woman raped in October 2002 while she had her newborn baby tied on her back, the rape was reported, and the soldier was arrested.225 The police started the investigation but the woman withdrew her statement, telling the credible source after leaving the police station that she was afraid of UPDF reprisals.226
Abuses by Government-Related Paramilitary Organs
One example is the question of chain of command and reporting and accountability for Local Defence Units (sometimes referred to as home guards). LDUs are officially under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, yet receive their orders from the UPDF and may be deployed by the UPDF far from home-although the army does not accept responsibility for the activities of members of LDUs (see below).
Suspected supporters of the political opposition as well as civilians at large have been subjected to arrests and detention by the UPDF, LDUs (home guards), the Presidential Protection Unit (PPU), the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), and the Internal Security Organization (ISO). The Director General of the ISO, Brig. Henry Tumukunde, made it clear, in a statement issued in September 2002, that the authority of the security and paramilitary agencies was restricted and that only the police had the authority to arrest people. No other security organ, including ISO, was allowed to arrest suspects, he said.227
There are other security-paramilitary organs whose legal status is unclear but which have reportedly threatened suspected political opposition supporters, carried out arbitrary arrests, and have been involved in unlawful killings. The most prominent paramilitary group is the Kalangala Action Plan, formed by the senior presidential advisor, Kakooza Mutale. Another organization operating in Gulu municipality is locally known as the Labeca (also spelled Labeja) group.
These two paramilitary groups active in northern Uganda arbitrarily arrested people suspected as rebels, rebel collaborators, thugs, thieves, or robbers. They have operated without a legal mandate but were believed by locals to have been supplied by the army with arms and vehicles. The Local Councilor for Gulu District, Walter Ochora, tried to justify this by citing the need for "community" policing and protection for the population to supplement gaps in what the established authorities provided.
The creation of new security organs and policing structures will not solve the problem of the lack of accountability in existing structures.
There are no reported cases in which members of paramilitary groups (linked to the government) stood trial on allegations made against them of human rights abuses, however.
I. Kalangala Action Plan (KAP)
The KAP was instrumental in President Museveni's 2001 presidential election campaign. During the campaign, members of the KAP allegedly committed several arbitrary arrests, detained people without legal authority, and committed violent attacks, according to reports in both government and independent newspapers based in Kampala.231
The UPDF reportedly funded the KAP as a Special Operations Unit and the state house officially requested the UPDF to arm the KAP.232 The State Minister for Security, Muruli Mukasa, denied these reports yet explained, "Mutale as a presidential advisor draws his salary from the President's Office, while those working under him, most of whom are soldiers, are paid by UPDF."233 Earlier in 2001 the public relations officer of KAP claimed that President Museveni was chairman of KAP, an allegation that was questioned but not denied by Museveni's spokesman.234
KAP does not have an official status as a government security organ, yet it arrests and ill-treats civilians, including threatening political opponents of the Movement system.235
II. Labeca Group
Dennis U. was shot dead by members of the Labeca group while his mother and other bystanders watched from a short distance away, on October 20, 2002.236 Dennis' parents reported the case to the police, to human rights organizations, to the regional district commissioner, and to the army, but did not receive any response. Their son was apparently killed because of allegations that he had stolen a bicycle, but there was no investigation, no evidence, and no warrant for his arrest-and certainly no trial.
The parents said that on October 20, 2002, in Obiya west, nineteen BodaBoda (local motor bicycle taxi) men came to collect their son, Dennis U., twenty-two years old. A woman had alleged that he stole her bicycle. Dennis U. was beaten and knifed by the BodaBoda men, although he remained alive. The BodaBoda men telephoned for orders, following which a white pickup truck arrived with three armed men from the Labeca group. The family could give no more information about any relationship between the Labeca group and the motor bicycle taxi group.
Before the arrival of the armed men in the white truck, the local commissioner-I of the Laipi area took Dennis U. to his house for protection. The three armed men, in standard plain green UPDF uniforms, came to the house of this local commissioner and took the young man away in the pick-up.
A young BodaBoda member told Dennis U.'s parents, "You should be assured that your son will be killed." The mother ran outside but the women there took her aside. She heard gunshots. She saw the white pickup parked in the open ground opposite Lacor hospital. Her son was shot in front of the house of Steven O., while the mother was standing by. The men in the truck shot him in the leg and asked, "Did you steal the bike?" the mother, who could hear them, reported.
The parents complained that even if their son were a thief, there should be an investigation by the police, and even if guilty, the boy should not be shot by somebody, "just like that." 237
On January 8, 2003, the parents finally reported the case to the police at Gulu station. There the father was told to come back the next week. He went back. He was told to come back at the end of the month. On January 30 a researcher from a Ugandan human rights organization accompanied the father to the police station. The police did not take down the complaint.238
One leader of the Labeca group allegedly participated in a case of mock-execution reported by the victim to a human rights organization. The victim, John O. (not his real name), was a resident of Pece II in Gulu municipality. The Labeca group arrested him in April 2002. John O. said that the arrest was made by six men in plainclothes, one armed UPDF soldier, and a boy, who went in the company of the Labeca group leader to investigate a case of robbery in which John O. was accused as a participant.
John O. denied the allegations, but was ordered to lie flat on the bed of the Labeca leader's pick up truck,239 together with another suspect in the robbery, who was beaten after he admitted that he had a gun which he had hidden. The two suspects were taken by the Labeca group to the hiding place of the gun in Pece, where the second suspect was forced to dig up the gun. Although he denied involvement in the robbery, John O. was beaten seriously.
After the mock-execution, John O. was taken with the other suspect to Koro army detachment where they were held in detention. According to John O., they were accompanied by this Labeca group leader to the headquarters. The second suspect was ordered out of the cell in the army detachment by a soldier and was tied three-piece(kadoya). 241 John O. said,
That evening on Friday April 19, 2002, the commanding officer of the detachment told them they were to be released the next day. The same Labeca group leader was present when John O. was released; he was released without any document evidencing his arrest or release. He affirmed in a written complaint to a local human rights organization that he had abrasions on his back and scars from cigarette burns.243
Arrests of Alleged Rebel Collaborators
The picture that emerged was that suspects were kept in military instead of police detention, investigations and collection of evidence were rare, torture and ill-treatment of suspects were rampant, living conditions were unsanitary and overcrowded in many cases, and some of the persons carrying out the arrests had no authority to do so. Suspects have been arrested by the UPDF, the LDUs, the police, the KAP, the CMI, and officers from various intelligence agencies connected to the Internal Security Organization (ISO). Many people arrested for alleged rebel collaboration in northern Uganda were arrested in their villages or fields, pursuant to an order of October 2, 2002, whereby the government restricted movement from the internally displaced persons camps as described above.
This order resulted into a precarious situation for the population of northern Uganda. They were restricted to camps where they were vulnerable to LRA attacks and famine (food shortages due to little space in which to garden and LRA attacks on relief food convoys), or they risked arrest for alleged rebel collaboration for trying to return to their homes and fields to plant or harvest food crops.
Many detainees were supporters of the political opposition. In a region where the support for President Museveni in the last presidential elections allegedly did not exceed 20 percent,244 the arbitrary practice of the UPDF and security organs of arresting and incarcerating civilians created an atmosphere of fear and political repression. According to one of the Gulu prisoners mentioned above,
Others detained for treason or on collaboration charges also belong to political opposition organizations. Some were reportedly members of Uganda Young Democrats, campaigners for Kiiza Besigye's losing presidential campaign, supporters of opposition candidate Lt. Col. Okot Alenysio in his electoral campaign for local councilor-V, or campaigners for government opponent Kerobino Uma for the district chairmanship elections.246
A credible source from Palatjera IDP camp reported that more than sixty people from that camp were arrested on allegations of rebel collaboration. According to him there was an arrest list in circulation with an additional 400 names on it.247 A human rights defender from the Luwal IDP camp in Lamogi sub county told Human Rights Watch that arrests from the camp increased after Operation Iron Fist started, and that there were ten Luwal people charged with treason being held in the Fourth Division barracks in Gulu. The ten, all males, were arrested on January 28, 2003.248 According to a credible source from Atiak camp, "In Atiak camp every week somebody is picked up as a rebel collaborator. Some are released, others remain in the military barracks." 249
Several people who acted as messengers between the government's appointed peace team and the Acholi traditional and religious leaders peace team have reportedly been arrested and harassed. This appears to be in violation of the Anti-Terrorism Act, which exempts those involved in peace negotiations from being defined as terrorists.250 A contact person for the ARLPI peace team was arrested on September 23, 2002, and charged with rebel collaboration. Only after Pader district leaders pleaded with President Museveni was he released from Gulu barracks, on October 2.251 He reported that he had been kept in a unipot (metal hut), denied food for five days, and told that he could be set free without charges if he would refrain from further activities.
In early January 2003, another peace meeting organizer was detained in Pajule. He was held in the headquarters of the Fifth Division of the UPDF in Achol-pii. He had helped organize two meetings between a traditional chief and the LRA.
A credible source from Palatjera IDP camp associated with the reconciliation initiatives told Human Rights Watch,
According to the Rwot (traditional) paramount chief in northern Uganda, almost all meetings he held with the rebels were attacked by UPDF. According to ARLPI records, many meetings with the LRA were either attacked or aborted by the army.
According to a representative of ARLPI, there are conflicting messages sent by the government. "Whereas Museveni is supporting the peace efforts and promotes meetings between ARLPI and the LRA, hardliners, and including some UPDF officers on the ground, do not support peace talks."253 The LRA also gave mixed signals about the peace talks: one UPDF captain on the government negotiation team, Okech Kuru, was killed by the LRA at Lapul, in Pader district during a peace mission in early March 2003.254
Treason and Terrorist Charges
In cases to be tried only by the High Court, which includes treason and most anti-terrorist cases, the police have 360 days after receiving the suspect (usually from the UPDF, which has conducted a military intelligence interrogation but not a police investigation) to finish the investigation and commit the case to the trial (High) court, or release the accused. 256 During this time, the suspect is not allowed bail nor is he charged with any offense before an impartial tribunal. This procedure is said by Ugandan authorities to be permitted under the Uganda Constitution, article 23 (6) (c).257 This interpretation of the Uganda Constitution, article 23 (6) (c) conflicts with another constitutional guarantee under article 23 (4) (b), which requires that a person detained on suspicion of having committed a criminal offense be brought to court not later than forty-eight hours after the detention. 258
The 360-day period of detention without bail or charges is unreasonably long under international human rights law also. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), article 9 (3) provides that anyone detained on a criminal charge shall be brought
The practice in Uganda, where the detainee suspected of treason or terrorism is brought before a magistrate to be charged, but these offenses are not triable by a magistrate's court, but by a High Court, as they carry the death penalty. The detainee is not allowed to enter a plea with the magistrate's court (as it is not the trial court) or allowed bail for almost one year, 360 days, is a violation of ICCPR, article 9 (3). The High Court may grant a petition for bail, but most of the detainees are poor and therefore do not have an attorney, and in most cases they do not even appear before the High Court until their 360-day period of detention has run. Even in these death penalty cases, the accused does not have a state-provided attorney until the time of trial.
Although detention without bail or a judicial hearing might, under international law, be justified during a state of emergency, the requirements of the ICCPR for derogating from certain rights have not been met. Derogation is only justified when two requirements have been met: a time of public emergency that threatens the life of the nation, and an official declaration of a state of emergency. Even then, derogations may only be made "to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation." 261
Indeed, the requirement that the rights of personal liberty and fair trial are derogable only under specified circumstances such as a "public emergency which threatens the life of the nation"262 is violated by the enshrinement of the 360-day provision in the Ugandan constitution. Such a public emergency is by its nature temporary. However, no state of emergency has been declared either by the Parliament or by an enactment "other than an Act of Parliament" as defined in the constitution.263
The Ugandan constitution also provides specifically for detentions during a time of emergency.264 Even under emergency provisions, however, a suspect is to be provided with a written statement specifying "the grounds upon which he or she is restricted or detained." From our interviews, it appears that this provision is not honored by the UPDF or police.
The spouse or relatives of the suspect are also to be notified and allowed access to the detainee within seventy-two hours of detention according to the constitution. This provision is likewise ignored and many families are left entirely in the dark for long periods as to the whereabouts of their detained relatives.
More than 180 people suspected of treason were in Gulu barracks as of early 2003, according to the information of several nongovernmental organizations in Gulu. But a much smaller number, only twenty-six, treason cases were registered in the office of the Officer in Charge of Crime at Gulu police station as of January 2003. Detective Ochola admitted that many more persons suspected of treason than the twenty-six were in police custody, but it was difficult at times to charge them with treason or anything else, because the police had to investigate (and find evidence) before charging anyone.
"If there is no evidence we have to release them," he said. Sometimes "people give somebody's name and call him a rebel collaborator. After investigation we find out that it was because of a land dispute that they accused the person."265
The admission that many more persons than the twenty-six charged with treason were in police custody suspected of treason, but without being charged, is deeply disturbing. Without charges, there are no grounds for either the police or the UPDF to hold suspects longer than the forty-eight hours maximum specified in the Ugandan constitution, article 23 (4),266 and, even if the emergency detention provisions of the constitution were to apply, the relatives must be given notice and access to the detainee within seventy-two hours of detention.267
In April 2002 twelve people from Pabbo IDP camp were arrested for rebel collaboration, according to two credible sources working in the camp. They were taken away from the district. They were all adults including one woman charged with treason. Since their arrest, their whereabouts are unknown.268
This is a violation of the Ugandan constitution's provision that those arrested or detained shall be charged within forty-eight hours. In this case, the suspects' whereabouts were not known from the time of detention in April 2002 until the date of the interview, early February 2003.
Despite the high rate of LRA activity in the last six months of 2002 and in 2003, the number of treason cases transferred to the jurisdiction of the Gulu High Court in 2002 did not exceed five cases, according to High Court Registrar Maria Madrara.269 Prolonged detention without trial, often in military custody, seems to be the fate of many treason and terrorist suspects.
In 1992 an Anti-Terrorism Act was passed and signed into law.270 It provides for a mandatory death penalty on conviction of an offense directly resulting in the death of any person.271 "Terrorism" is broadly defined: a terrorist indiscriminately commits certain violent acts, with intent to cause injury or death, for purposes of influencing the government or intimidating the public or a section thereof and for political or other aim. 272 Some persons are charged with terrorism for possession of an unlicensed gun.
The Anti-Terrorism Act confers wide powers on those investigating acts of terrorism. The offense of terrorism and any other offense punishable by more than ten years imprisonment under this act are triable only by the High Court-and bail may be granted for those accused of these offenses only by the High Court. Thus the provisions of 360 days of detention without bail would apply also to many terrorist acts.273
Treason Charges Against Children
Uganda is also a state party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, which obliges the government to assist former child soldiers by providing "all appropriate assistance for their physical and psychological recover and social reintegration."275
Antonio E., age fourteen, was abducted by the LRA in 2000; his brother, abducted with him, was killed en route to Sudan because he could not march fast enough. Antonio was trained and stayed in Sudan, then in January 2002 was sent back to Uganda on operations. He surrendered to the UPDF in the area of Pakelle in Adjumani district on December 12, 2002. 276
Peter O., aged sixteen, was the other child charged with treason. He is from Amoro County, twenty miles west of Gulu. He told Human Rights Watch that he had been abducted on the way home from primary school to Amoro internally displaced persons camp. When after several years in Sudan his LRA unit returned to Gulu district, Uganda, fleeing Operation Iron Fist, he decided to walk to the UPDF roadblock and surrender. He was tortured by soldiers of the UPDF and then asked to join the UPDF, although he protested that he was only sixteen years old, younger than the eighteen-year-old minimum age of recruitment under Ugandan law.277
A member of LAPEWA278 was appointed custodian for the two boys and they were released on bail under LAPEWA custody. After trying and failing to find help for the boys from the rehabilitation centers, probation, welfare, and the district commissioner's office, the social worker said, "Now we feel that LAPEWA is looked at as the opposition since we took up the case. But we are not, we are only doing our duty as caretakers."279
Former LRA child soldiers who surrender are rarely charged with any crime, and James Awundo, the clerk of the Amnesty Commission-an independent government commission under the Ministry of Justice created by an act of parliament to process rebel applications for amnesty-in Gulu, said of these two former LRA abducted child soldiers charged in 2002 with treason, "We could not see any difference in [their] story to that of other abductees [who have been amnestied]." 280 The head of the Amnesty Commission, Peter Onega, told Human Rights Watch that these treason charges against ex-LRA combatants would undermine the work of the Amnesty Commission by sending the wrong signal to those still in LRA captivity and to those already granted amnesty. 281
In April 2003, the boys applied for amnesty with the Amnesty Commission, and it appeared that the government would drop the treason charges against them.282
Children who escape, are captured, or are released from the LRA usually stay in UPDF detachments or barracks for an average of one week before transfer to the Child Protection Unit (CPU) in Gulu or Kitgum towns, and finally, to the civilian-run rehabilitation centers. While at the barracks, before transport and safe passage to the CPU can be arranged, the children are questioned by the UPDF on their activities, the LRA structure, and recent LRA operations.
In the barracks in Gulu, Kitgum, and Pader districts, soldiers asked the majority of the formerly abducted boys - the youngest of whom was thirteen - interviewed for this report to enlist in their ranks. Soldiers knew the ages of the boys from their questioning. The boys, some of whom had spent years with the LRA undergoing the hardships detailed above, were tempted with promises of respect, money, new uniforms, and a better life. None of the boys interviewed by Human Rights Watch at the rehabilitation centers agreed to join the UPDF, but they gave credible information about others who did. One military detachment where this type of recruitment was repeatedly mentioned was Achol-Pii barracks in Pader district.
Most boys did not report the use of force against them, but one boy, Peter O., later charged with treason, was badly tortured during UPDF interrogation about his LRA activities. During this interrogation, a UPDF officer asked the boy if he wanted to join the Ugandan army. "If not, you will stay here in this prison forever," he threatened. The boy refused, although his father was in the army. "I want to go to school and not stay in the army," he later said. "I was not given enough food and was kept in the barracks for two months."284
Sixteen-year-old John W. spent nine days in the barracks at Achol-pii in January 2003. The soldiers tried to lure former LRA child soldiers held in the barracks into joining the armed forces of Uganda. "They would say things like, `we will treat you well, give you money and food and a new uniform. Why waste your time going home and doing nothing?'"
At one point, soldiers approached the sixteen-year-old with a newly pressed uniform and 80,000 Ugandan shillings (U.S. $ 45). "They told me that I could have this money and clothes right now, and more later if I agreed to join them." 285
Mark T. spent one week in early December 2002 at Achol-Pii barracks. When he arrived, he found twenty-four LRA escapees there, almost all of them boys under seventeen. They were all asked to join the UPDF. Five of the boys accepted, the youngest a fifteen-year-old named Michael. Mark T. refused. "Soldiers would tempt and taunt us, insulting us for being in an army like the LRA which only runs away during the fighting. `Be a real man, fight with a real army now like the UPDF. You will get money for your work, a gun and a uniform,'" they told him. 286
Former abductees were ordered to give military information about their time with the rebels. Some were ordered to guide UPDF units to their former LRA camps and training grounds,287 exposing them to great danger in violation of the army's duty under article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 to protect ex-enemy combatants who have laid down their arms.
This was reportedly carried to the extent of forcing seventeen former abductees to guide the UPDF all the way back to their former LRA camps inside Sudan. These seventeen boys had escaped from the LRA in October 2001 and returned to their homes in Pajule. In January 2002 the UPDF followed them to their homes and forced them into service in Sudan as guides. 288
In February 2002 the Justice and Peace Commission complained to the commander of the Fourth Division, Col. Gutti Muheesi, about several such cases. The commission alleged that a named UPDF soldier, who had been a former LRA commander himself, traced several former abductees. In two cases he reportedly offered money (200,000 Ugandan shillings or U.S. $ 120) to the former abductees to lure them into a UPDF operation inside southern Sudan. One of these was only sixteen years old.289
Thirteen-year-old Martin P. was subjected to UPDF pressure and initially agreed to "help" the UDPF find the LRA. Through the intervention of a UPDF commander, he was spared. "I spent two weeks at the UPDF detachment at Amuru. The soldiers there asked me lots of questions about the LRA, just like you," he told Human Rights Watch. They asked if he could take them to where the LRA was located. "Once the commander of the post learned I was going out with the soldiers he intervened . . . saying that this boy could not be taken back out there." Martin P. believed that the UPDF commander saw that he was reluctant to go.290
A journalist with the Monitor newspaper in Kampala told of a former LRA abductee forced to accompany the UPDF into southern Sudan to guide them to his former camp. The UPDF had also invited several journalists on this trip to accompany Operation Iron Fist to former LRA camps in southern Sudan. The journalists present argued with the UPDF when it became apparent that the former abductee was being left behind in Sudan with the remaining UPDF forces as the journalists were departing. Their complaints had no effect.291
Questioned about these allegations, the public relations officer of the UPDF, Lt. Paddy Ankunda, denied them.
Boys who return from the LRA are often seasoned fighters, knowledgeable of LRA activities, and are understandably valuable to the UPDF in the fight against the LRA. They are also malnourished and abused and often arrive with only the clothes on their backs. In a physically and psychologically weakened state, they may fall prey to temptations from the soldiers and the promise of money and a new life.
Recruitment of Children into Local Defence Units and Their Use by the UPDF
The LDUs were originally presented as a policing institution and not as a replacement for UPDF soldiers. The initial idea was to set up a long-term policing system with recruits trusted by the camp population because they were locally recruited and known to the people; the LDUs are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The LDUs do not receive proper military training but are only shown the most basic items, such as how to use and maintain a gun. They are not prepared to participate in military operations. However, after being trained, many children do not return to their home areas and are reportedly used to fight with the UPDF in other areas, including outside of Uganda.
The use of LDUs outside their home areas led one credible source to note, "It is the broadest definition of the word `local' when describing the activities of the LDUs in the Congo or the Sudan."294
The salary for a soldier in the LDUs is 40,000 Ush a month (U.S. $ 23) while a regular UPDF soldier receives between 90,000 and 150,000 Ush (U.S. $ 51 and U.S. $ 86). For many boys from families impoverished by the war and without a source of income, the promise of a salary entices them to join the LDUs.
The LDUs come under the military authority of the UPDF, although salaries for LDUs are paid through the Ministry of the Interior, while salaries for the UPDF come from the Ministry of Defence. According to reported received by Human Rights Watch, many LDU salaries are paid late or not at all.
According to Lt. Paddy Ankunda, the public relations officer for the UPDF's Fourth Division, candidates for the LDUs must be at least eighteen years old, have completed their education to level S4 (four years of secondary education) or above, be in good health, and have a recommendation from their LC-I (local councilor). He stated that the responsibility for the recruitment process lies with the local councilors- the sub county leaders (LC-IIIs)-and that verification of age is the responsibility of local leaders who presumably know the candidates and their families.295
According to local authorities questioned on LDU candidature, there is a both an official and unofficial recruitment process. The official recruitment is conducted much as described by Lt. Ankunda above, drawing largely from retired military and former security personnel. An unofficial recruitment process, however, bypasses the local councilors, with men and underage recruits reporting directly to military posts. Age and education verification as well as letters of recommendation are neither presented nor demanded.
One LC-I responsible for an area just outside of Gulu town became aware of this unofficial recruitment when parents berated him for recommending their children to serve-which he had not done. The youngest boy recruited from his parish in 2002 was twelve years old. When this local councilor approached the barracks on several occasions to protest, he was told that the boys were not there or were away fighting for the defence of their country.
The leader of an IDP camp outside of Gulu town also reported that boys approach the barracks directly for recruitment, skirting the recommendation requirement. However, the local councilor from the area was able to release some of the boys.296
Representatives of the Catholic Church of Uganda provided Human Rights Watch with details related to twenty-two boys and young men, aged fifteen to eighteen, who were recruited into the LDUs and subsequently escaped.297 The recruitment took place in Nebbi district (west of Gulu district) in March or April of 2002. Some of the recruits responded to radio announcements regarding LDU recruitment, and were promised that after training, they would be returned to their home areas. Others heard that the UPDF was offering scholarships for secondary boarding schools. Both groups were loaded into trucks together with up to 300 other boys, and taken to the Fourth Division headquarters in Gulu, where they reported that all of their documentation, including identification cards and birth certificates, were burned. The recruits were then taken to a UPDF training camp called "Waligo" and quartered in the barracks of Ngomoromo in Lamwo county in Kitgum district, near the Sudan border.
The boys told the church representatives that the military training lasted a month, and that during that time some trainees died from disease, lack of food, and other hardships. Over time, they said, they became weaker and weaker, and began making more mistakes, resulting in more frequent punishments. In some cases, recruits who tried to escape were reportedly killed. Trainees were given military uniforms, but no papers, matriculation number, or salary.
Eighteen of the twenty-two boys escaped from these training camps. The remaining four were sent to Sudan with other boys and young men to assist with Operation Iron Fist. These four were not used as fighters but carried communications and served as porters. They later made a rare escape from Sudan in June and July 2002.
Church leaders believe that the recruitment of children in early 2002 is linked to the beginning of Operation Iron Fist and news articles at the time alleging military corruption through empty payrolls and "ghost soldiers": "There is a strong connection here between Iron Fist needing manpower," they said, "and empty places on [military] payrolls, so people needed to fill the ranks quickly to cover themselves."298
Church leaders believed that large-scale recruitment of children, like that in Nebbi, may have ended, in part because of protests by the church. Other reports indicate that smaller-scale recruitment of children into the LDUs continues.
A local councilor (LC-I) representing an area near Gulu told Human Rights Watch that in December 2002 many boys responded to radio announcements calling for new recruits for the LDUs. He said they responded because of the promised salary and "out of frustration" with their situation. He saw boys being trained at a training camp in Binya parish, about forty kilometers east of Gulu town, and he knew of at least fifty boys recruited from Acet and Awer camps in December. He also provided specific details of seven boys between the ages of twelve and sixteen, from Omoro, Nwoya, and Aswa counties (Gulu district), whose parents reported that they had been recruited into the LDUs with the knowledge of local authorities.299
The councilor said, "I heard from families that some (boys) were killed by rebels in the bush. Parents are very tired of the insecurity and don't want their children to join, but children join without their parents' permission."300
The LC-I said that some parents try to get their children back through local officials such as LC-Is or LC-IIIs, but have been told by soldiers that if their son has been in training for two weeks or more, he cannot be released. He knew of some ten cases where boys had run away from the LDUs after enlisting, but were found and returned to the LDU by soldiers. 301
Forced Displacement of Civilians for Reasons Connected with the Conflict
Article 17 of the Additional Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions of 1977, which addresses the protections the warring parties must provide for civilians in non-international armed conflicts, prohibits the forced displacement of civilians for reasons connected with the conflict. It does, however, allow for such displacement if "imperative military reasons" or the "security of the civilians" requires-both of which are facts within the government's control. It has the burden of explaining them, which it has not done. But the length of the displacement-in some cases seven years (1996-2003)-the impact on civilians (in an economic and security sense), and the conditions under which the displaced have been received appear to fall short of what Protocol II envisions.
Nor has Uganda met the U.N. Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement which require the government to explore all feasible alternatives in order to avoid displacement, and which state that governments are obliged to protect against the displacement of peasants. Nor has Uganda complied with its own laws on displaced persons.
This forced displacement policy of the Ugandan government violates the ICCPR as it abridges the right to movement set forth in ICCPR, article 12. 302 The abridgment in this case is the forced movement or uprooting of 70 percent of the population of Acholiland. The Ugandan government may not abridge this right unless it meets the requirements of article 4 of the ICCRP for derogation of certain rights pursuant to an official declaration of a state of emergency.
Reasons for Displacement: "Imperative Military Reasons" or "Security of Civilians"
Article 17 (1) of Protocol II304 states in part: "1. The displacement of the civilian population shall not be ordered for reasons related to the conflict unless the security of the civilians involved or imperative military reasons so demand."305
The term "imperative military reasons" usually refers to evacuation because of imminent military operations. The provisional measure of evacuation is appropriate for example if an area is in danger as a result of military operations or is liable to be subjected to intense bombing or other military action. It may also be permitted when the presence of protected persons in an area hampers military operations. The prompt return of the evacuees to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area have ceased is implied in the article. 306
Displacement or capture of civilians solely to deny a social base to the enemy has nothing to do with the security of the civilians. Nor is it justified by "imperative military reasons," which require "the most meticulous assessment of the circumstances"307 because such reasons are so capable of abuse. One authority has stated:
Clearly, imperative military reasons cannot be justified by political motives. For example, it would be prohibited to move a population in order to exercise more effective control over a dissident ethnic group.308
The U.N. Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement state that, "prior to any decision requiring the displacement of persons, the authorities concerned shall ensure that all feasible alternatives are explored in order to avoid displacement altogether." 309 The principles state that states are under "a particular obligation to protect against the displacement of . . . peasants, pastoralists, and other groups with a special dependency on and attachment to their lands."310
The commander of the Fourth Division, Brig. Aronda Nyakairima, handing down the oral army evacuation order to the people of northern Uganda of October 2, 2002,311 stated:
This order suggests both "imperative military reasons" and the security of the population.
Forty-eight hours after this order was issued, the UPDF began shelling, bombing, and using helicopter gun ships to attack the areas around the camps. The government, interpreting the order broadly, reasoned that after the forty-eight hour ultimatum, everyone found outside the "protected villages" or IDP camps would be a rebel or a rebel collaborator----therefore converting almost the entire northern Uganda into a military operational zone in which civilian movement is sharply limited. This order, together with the LRA military campaign, has further crippled the rural economy of northern Uganda.
Whether the security of the civilians or "imperative military reasons" justify such massive disruption of life and the economy is a hotly contested issue. It remains to be established what the imperative military reasons are that would warrant forced displacement of 70 percent of the population for such a long period-some have been displaced since 1996. Nor is it clear why the government is unable to provide for the security of the civilians in any way other than such forced displacement, which is so drastic for the affected population that it should be the last resort. Because these facts are exclusively within government knowledge, the burden is upon the government to establish that its actions comply with international legal standards and its own policy on displacement.
While the government claims that it cannot protect persons living in far-flung rural areas from LRA attacks, there is also a hint of the "draining the sea" counterinsurgency strategy at work in northern Uganda. Pursuant to that doctrine, the rebels are the fish and the peasants the sea in which they swim. Dry up the sea by moving the peasants away, and the fish (rebels) die.
Some 70 percent of the population has been "dried up" or removed from places where they might, forcibly or willingly, be of material assistance to the LRA. To judge by the LRA attacks, which have continued at high levels before and after the October 2, 2002, displacement order, even high levels of displacement have not been an effective deterrent.313 Several months after the evacuation order, security has not been restored. As described above, the government security and military forces and paramilitaries have themselves become a source of insecurity for displaced civilians, even in "protected" villages and camps.
Duty to Receive Displaced Civilians under Satisfactory Conditions
Safety in IDP Camps
Civilians do not appear to be secure in the "protected" camps, which are regularly attacked by the LRA. Several people living in Pabbo, the largest camp in Gulu district, told Human Rights Watch that few soldiers - possibly 80 - guarded the estimated 45,000 camp population.317 This number of soldiers was confirmed by the senior mobilizer in the Regional District Commissioner's Office, Victor Apire,318 and further confirmed by the public relations officer of the Fourth Division, Lt. Paddy Ankunda.319
The government solution for the lack of security in the camps was to recruit LDUs, which often provide inadequate protection. These protectors are usually outnumbered by the attackers. The LDUs and, where there are UPDF soldiers deployed to protect the camp, the UPDF soldiers have been known on many occasions to throw down their weapons and run when the LRA attacks. Many displaced persons, who had to watch helplessly, made this comment to Human Rights Watch.
As a credible source from Atiak camp reported:
People were beaten to force them to join the LDU. "Adult men were beaten by young kids to join the LDUs, they also recruited underage [boys]. And still the rebels attack." 321
The situation deteriorated further when the Ugandan government increased its recruitment of LDUs without adequately paying them, according to credible sources from different camps and confirmed by different local organizations.
Because they do not get enough money, and the little money they were supposed to get never got to them, the LDUs as well as some of the UPDF soldiers go into the villages that people left and take whatever is there. They go to their fields and harvest whatever is there.322
The high numbers of LRA attacks, persons killed and injured, and property destroyed or looted during the last six months of 2002 and increasing in the first six months of 2003 indicates that the Ugandan government is not making progress but is falling behind in providing conditions of safety for the internally displaced.
Safety for Humanitarian Convoys Serving the IDP Camps of Northern Uganda
An NGO umbrella group composed of organizations working in northern Uganda wrote of its concerns to the prime minister in May 2003:
A group of donor countries had similar concerns about relief assistance in the north:
Even if provided with fuel and food, the UPDF will not go to the locations it deems too dangerous. 326 The WFP noted that it was unable to distribute food even to camps in Gulu district -due to lack of military escort-during the week of February 17-21, 2003.327 "This points to the inadequate security available for escort to the humanitarian organizations and agencies in northern Uganda,"328 U.N. OCHA said.
Although the government of Uganda's policy is that food must be secured for the internally displaced,329 it has not performed well in carrying out this policy in northern Uganda.
Conditions of Health and Nutrition
The causes of the high rates of malnutrition in the IDP camps, described above, are several: local food production has dropped because the UPDF restricts farming by displacing people, and by limiting their movement outside the camps; the WFP does not have adequate funding to cover all needs; and the LRA ambushes on vehicles in the northern area make all trade and relief deliveries uncertain and LRA attacks on civilians make farms insecure.
The farmers of northern Uganda also are restricted by the UPDF in a way that makes it difficult for them to remain self-supporting. Those inside the camps are restricted by the UPDF in their movements outside, and are often not permitted to cultivate, weed, and tend their fields, on pain of beatings or arrest. Many displaced have been arrested when bicycling to their gardens without written permission to leave the camps-a risk people take because of hunger when permits are refused. "People are afraid to leave the camps, but they are afraid to starve in the camps."330
The window of opportunity to plant seeds is limited to a few weeks in the first and second planting seasons,331 and if movement of civilians to their farms is impeded by UPDF restrictions on movement or LRA attacks, then the result is continued need for WFP food. The WFP noted that a mid-March 2003 assessment of Acet IDP camp in Gulu confirms fears that "IDPs in this region do not have much hope of accessing their gardens [farms] in order to utilize the first planting season. . . . The continuation of this situation for three more weeks would mean a wasted first rains for the IDPs."332
The result is that the WFP would have to extend the period of emergency food operations "for a period of not less than five months from now."333
Even those still living in villages outside the camps are restricted. Charles Moro, a local coordinator of production, said that food was cultivated but due to UPDF prohibitions on movement it could not be harvested.334
In addition to the burning of property by the LRA, the UPDF has burned crops in fields on occasion, possibly to clear the land for military operations, according to HURIPEC, a Ugandan nongovernmental human rights organization. 335 The type of burning is not the same as the dry season burning done by Acholi farmers and pastoralists to clear weeds and debris to prepare for the coming planting season.
According to OCHA, the WFP in January 2003 was feeding 395,000 IDPs in Gulu (thirty-three camps), 99,000 IDPs in Kitgum (seven camps), 271,000 in Pader (twenty camps) and another 47, 000 in Lira district immediately to the south in temporary camps. The total of IDPs in northern Uganda assisted by the WFP was 812,000 in early 2003; in contrast in July 2002 the total number assisted was 520,000. The U.N. OCHA noted that, "in addition, 150,000 [Sudanese] refugees in 66 settlements in eight districts are in need of food assistance" from the WFP.336
The government forty-eight hour evacuation order was accompanied by a plan that would ultimately make the economic and health conditions of the camps even worse. This was a plan to merge smaller internally displaced persons camps into larger ones. Many smaller IDP camps were spread out and fragmented to allow space for minimal food cultivation in small gardens inside the camp areas. Civilians were forced to desert the smaller camps and assemble in greater density in the remaining camp areas.
The forty-five camps in Gulu district before October 2002 were reduced in number-halved-to only twenty-two camps after the evacuation order. In the Pabbo camp, which was very densely populated prior to October 2002, with a population of 46,977, the population rose as of January 2003 to an estimated 70,000, an increase of almost 50 percent.
The displaced lived, by March 2003, in fifty-three densely populated, improvised camps, where living conditions were very poor, according to the WFP. In a best case scenario, all the IDPs would remain almost entirely dependent on WFP for food until the next harvest in August 2003, the U.N. news agency reported.340
In Pabbo camp, more than 2,200 homes burned down and more than 11,245 individuals were affected by two fires in early February 2003, during the windy dry season. "Congestion in the camps is the biggest fuel of the fires," the U.N. OCHA concluded.341
A paralegal from Amoro camp in Kilak county described the situation: "Since the camps were congested there is not enough security for the number of people in the camp. We have about 8,250 households in the camp. Food is not enough, the hygienic situation is very bad." 342
Forced Displacement as a Violation of the Right to Freedom of Movement
The Ugandan government may not violate the right to movement, unless it meets the requirements of article 4 of the ICCRP for derogation of this right. Article 4 specifies that it is necessary to issue an official declaration of a state of emergency explaining the reasons for and extent of the suspension of the derogable right. The Ugandan government has not declared any state of emergency.
196 "Three Soldiers Executed After Unfair Trial, Says AI,'' IRIN, Kampala, Uganda, March 6, 2003.
197 Human Rights Watch interview with Uganda Human Rights Commissioner Veronica Eragu Bichetero, Kampala, Uganda, June 13, 2003.
198 Human Rights Watch interview with James Otto, HURIFO chairman, Kampala, Uganda, June 14, 2003.
199 Human Rights Watch interview with assistant superintendent of Gulu Prison, Gulu, Uganda, February 2, 2003.
200 Oduho G. and Alex Otim reported from the first ward. Eighteen others charged with treason or misprision of treason were from the second ward. Peter Oloya was from the third ward.
201 Human Rights Watch interview with one of the twenty-three people taken from Gulu Prison to Gulu army barracks, Gulu, Uganda, February 2, 2003.
202 Kiiza Besigye headed the political opposition group Reform Agenda, but by this time was in exile in the U.S.
203 Human Rights Watch interview with Oduho G., Gulu, Uganda, January 30, 2003.
204 Human Rights Watch interview with Uganda Human Rights Commissioner Veronica Eragu Bichetero, Kampala, Uganda, June 13, 2003.
205 Two suspects remaining in Gulu Prison were charged with the murder of Alfred Bongomin, Movement (Museveni's party) sub county chairman of Pabbo in Kilak county. The director of public prosecution, however, dropped the charges against them on for lack of evidence of their involvement in the murder and they were released.
206 "Inmates Name 13 `Safe Houses,'" New Vision (Kampala), February 27, 2003.
207 See also Human Rights Watch interview with Uganda Human Rights Commissioner Veronica Eragu Bichetero, Kampala, Uganda, June 13, 2003.
208 "Inmates Narrate Snake Torture," New Vision (Kampala), February 20, 2000; "MPs Compile Torture Report," The Monitor (Kampala), February 20, 2003.
209 Human Rights Watch interview with Uganda Human Rights Commissioner Veronica Eragu Bichetero, Kampala, Uganda, June 13, 2003.
210 Another suspect, Oduho G., had been arrested several times before for political opposition activities. Bogomin, the movement's chairman in Pabbo, was killed. Before any police investigation into that murder had begun, the LC-V chairman of Gulu, Walter Ochora, announced on the radio that "Oduho G. and Yumbe got Mao's vehicle and killed the movement's chairman in Pabbo. We will use the jungle law against them." These actions prejudiced a fair trial for Oduho G. for the murder of Bogomin. Human Rights Watch interview with Oduho G., Gulu, Uganda, January 30, 2003.
211 Human Rights Watch interview with Stephen O., Gulu, Uganda, February 1, 2003.
212 Human Rights Watch interview with attorney, Kampala, Uganda, June 16, 2003.
213 Human Rights Watch interview with Peter O., Gulu, Uganda, February 6, 2003.
214 Human Rights Watch interview with Peter O., Gulu, Uganda, February 6, 2003.
215 In Uganda, the rape or sexual abuse of girls under the age of eighteen is legally categorized as "defilement."
216 See Women's Commission on Refugee Women and Children, Against All Odds: Surviving the War on Adolescents, Promoting the Protection and Capacity of Ugandan and Sudanese Adolescents in Northern Uganda (New York: Women's Commission on Refugee Women and Children, September 2001). More than 2,000 adolescents and adults were interviewed as part of this participatory research study with adolescents in northern Uganda.
217 Margaret Atim Tebere, "Report on Women's Experiences of War during armed conflict in northern Uganda - Gulu District," People's Voice for Peace, Kampala, Uganda, June 1999, p. 9.
218 Human Rights Watch interview with N.A., Gulu, Uganda, February 9, 2003.
219 The mother was not raped.
220 Human Rights Watch sent an e-mail query to Lt. Paddy Ankunda, public relations officer (PRO) for the UPDF Fourth Division on February 18, 2003, inquiring what steps authorities had taken to investigate and prosecute the case, but as of the writing of this report had not received a response.
222 Human Rights Watch interview with Lt. Paddy Ankunda, Gulu, Uganda, February 5, 2003.
223 Local Councils are elected bodies that start at the village level (LC-I), and progress through the parish (LC-II), to the sub-county (LC-III), county (LC-IV), and district level (L-CV).
224 Human Rights Watch interview with coordinator of the women's desk at Caritas, Gulu, Uganda, January 31, 2003.
225 The woman was on her way to spend the night in Gulu for safety. The soldier, wearing a uniform with his service number on it, stopped her near the Fourth Division headquarters and raped her.
226 Human Rights Watch interview with official from Negri Village, Gulu, Uganda, February 4, 2003.
227 "`Let Police Carry Out Arrests' says Brig. Henry Tumukunde," New Vision (Kampala), February 5, 2003.
228 Human Rights Watch interview with Walter Ochora, LC-V chairman, Gulu, Uganda, February 4, 2003.
229 See Human Rights Watch, Hostile to Democracy (Human Rights Watch: New York, August 1999) for a description of the Movement system, designed by President Museveni as a one-party alternative to a multiparty system.
230 CEDO-KAP, the education program, is said to be the economic arm of Kalangala Action Plan (KAP).
231 Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, "Mutale's Man Raid EU Offices," The Monitor (Kampala), December 19, 2002; Richard Mutumba, "State House Doesn't Fund Mutale's KAP," New Vision (Kampala), June 21, 2002; "Mutale's KAP is a Time Bomb," The Monitor (Kampala), June 20, 2002.
232 "Mutale's KAP is a time bomb."
233 Richard Mutumba, "State House Doesn't Fund Mutale's KAP," New Vision (Kampala), June 21, 2002.
234 David Kibirige, "Museveni `Leader of Kalangala Action Plan," The Monitor (Kampala), March 7, 2002.
235 David O. was initially arrested by a sub county chairman of KAP. He was then allegedly tortured by the UPDF in the presence of a leader of KAP, a UPDF commander, and several other UPDF soldiers. See above.
236 Human Rights Watch interview with the parents of a victim of unlawful killing by the Labeca paramilitary group, February 3, 2003.
237 The police sent them to get a letter from the local councilor I (LC-I). The LC-I of the parish where the victim was killed only wrote a letter to the LC-I of the parents' parish, LC-I Okelo, to ask him for a sheep to be slaughtered since blood was spilled in the first-mentioned parish. LC-I Okelo, however, wrote a letter to be presented to the Rwot (chief), who he said would help the parents talk to the police and ask for compensation from the owner of the bicycle.
238 The human rights worker returned with the old man the next day to make a statement. He was told to come back with his wife as an eyewitness. The parents went to the police station together on February 3. They were told that they had to come with the local councilor-I in person.
239 The pick up is a white Nissan with the license plate that regularly drives up and down in Gulu town. Many people fear when it patrols the streets of Gulu. This vehicle is known in Gulu to belong to someone associated with the Labeca group. Human Rights Watch interview with John O., Gulu, Uganda,
240 Statement, signed by John O., Gulu, Uganda, April 29, 2002, made to a local human rights organization.
241 "Three-piece" means that the ankles and legs are tied together behind the back, leaving the victim flat on his stomach, not able to move.
242 Statement, signed by John O., Gulu, Uganda, April 29, 2002, made to a local human rights organization.
244 In the presidential elections of 2001 President Museveni officially received 69 percent of the vote nationwide, whereas the runner up, Kiiza Besigye, won 28 percent. According to a Reform Agenda supporter, Museveni did not win more than 20 percent of the votes in Gulu. Human Rights Watch interview with opposition supporter, Gulu, Uganda, January 30, 2003.
245 Human Rights Watch interview with former prisoner, Gulu, Uganda, January 29, 2003.
246 "Fourteen Youth Arrested in Gulu," The Monitor (Kampala), September 17, 2002; "Three Local Leaders Arrested in Gulu," The Monitor (Kampala), September 9, 2002.
247 Human Rights Watch interview with Palatjera credible source, Gulu, Uganda, January 30, 2003.
248 Human Rights Watch interview with Michael O., credible source from Luwal camp, Gulu, Uganda, January 31, 2003.
249 Human Rights Watch interview, Gulu, Uganda, February 3, 2003.
250 Anti-Terrorism Act, Art. 11 (2 ): "a person who arranges or assists in the arrangement or management of a meeting to be addressed by, or who addresses any meeting with a person or persons belonging or professing to belong to a terrorist organisation for purposes of negotiating peace" shall be excluded from the definition of terrorist and the provisions of the Act.
252 Human Rights Watch interview with Palatjera credible source, Gulu, Uganda, January 30, 2003.
253 Human Rights Watch interview with APRLI representative, Gulu, Uganda, February 1, 2003.
254 "Civilians targeted by their own people," IRIN, Nairobi, Kenya, April 2, 2003.
255 Human Rights Watch interview with Detective Ochola, second in command of Gulu Central Police, Gulu, Uganda, February D, 2003.
256 See Human Rights Watch, Hostile to Democracy, pp. 130-73.
257 Ugandan Constitution., art. 23 (6) (c ) provides that, for bail where a person is arrested:
in the case of an offence triable only by the High Court the person shall be released on bail on such conditions as the Court considers reasonable, if the person has been remanded in custody for three hundred and sixty days before the case is committed to the High Court.
258 Ugandan Constitution., art. 23 (4) states that a person arrested or detained "b) upon reasonable suspicion of his or her having committed or being about to commit a criminal offence under the laws of Uganda, shall, if not earlier released, be brought to court as soon as possible but in any case not later than forty-eight hours from the time of his or her arrest."
259 Ugandan Constitution, article 28 (3) (a), states that each person charged with a criminal offense "shall be presumed to be innocent until proved guilty or until that person has pleaded guilty." See International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), article 14 (2).
260 Ugandan Constitution, article 28 provides: "(1) ln the determination of civil rights and obligations or any criminal charge, a person shall be entitled to a fair, speedy and public hearing before an independent and impartial court or tribunal established by law." See ICCPR, article 14 (c ).
261 ICCPR, article 4 provides:
1. In time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation and the existence of which is officially proclaimed, the States Parties to the present Covenant may take measures derogating from their obligations under the present Covenant to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with their other obligations under international law . . . .
263 Ugandan Constitution, article 46 ("Human Rights and Freedoms During a State of Emergency"):
(1) An Act of Parliament shall not be taken to contravene the rights and freedoms guaranteed in this Chapter, if that Act authorises the taking of measures that are reasonably justifiable for dealing with a state of emergency.
264 Ugandan Constitution, article 47 ("Detention under emergency laws"):
Where a person is restricted or detained under a law made for the purpose of a state of emergency, the following provisions shall apply-
(a) he or she shall. within twenty-four hours after the commencement of the restriction or detention, be furnished with a statement in writing specifying the grounds upon which he or she is restricted or detained;
265 Human Rights Watch interview with Detective Ochola, Gulu Central Police, Gulu, Uganda, February 5, 2003.
266 Ugandan Constitution, article 23 (4) states that a person arrested or detained "b) upon reasonable suspicion of his or her having committed or being about to commit a criminal offence under the laws of Uganda, shall, if not earlier released, be brought to court as soon as possible but in any case not later than forty-eight hours from the time of his or her arrest."
267 Ugandan Constitution, article 47, above.
268 Human Rights Watch interview with Pabbo IDP camp credible sources, Gulu, Uganda, February 5, 2003.
269 Human Rights Watch interview with Maria Madrara, Registrar at the High Court, Gulu, Uganda, February 5, 2003. In cases of treason, the High Court is the trial court.
270 Acts Suppl. No. 7, Act 14, Anti-Terrorism Act, 2002 (June 7, 2002). It defines terrorist organizations in its Schedule 2, section 10 (1) as the LRA, the Lord's Resistance Movement, the Allied Democratic Forces, and Al Qaeda.
271 Anti-Terrorism Act, section 7 (1).
272 Ibid., section 7 (2).
273 Ugandan Constitution, article 23 (6) (c ).
274 Letter, Human Rights Watch to Mrs. Janat Mukwaya, Ugandan Minister of Justice, February 19, 2003, http://hrw.org/press/2003/02/uganda021903-ltr.htm (accessed April 15, 2002); see also, Human Rights Watch press release, "Drop Treason Charges Against Child Abductees," March 4, 2003, http://hrw.org/press/2003/03/uganda030403.htm (accessed April 15, 2003).
275 Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, article 6, acceded to by Uganda, May 6, 2000.
276 In January 2002 his group moved back to Uganda. He participated in the LRA attack on Maaji, where he killed one of the fourteen people killed in that attack, and abducted five children. Human Rights Watch interview with Antonio E., Gulu, Uganda, February 6, 2003.
277 Human Rights Watch interview with Peter O., Gulu, Uganda, February 6, 2003. According to the report filed by the Amnesty Commission, Peter O. crossed back to Uganda in August 2002 with Cdr. Njombo Okot. He was allegedly involved in the raid on Otwal and Omak camps as well as in raids on Gulu and Koch Goma. He surrendered after his LRA unit raided a trading center.
278 LAPEWA is a Gulu women's organization that regularly visits police cells to look for child detainees. It accompanies children to their court hearings and takes them into their custody, since there are no juvenile detention facilities in Gulu district. LAPEWA stands for "LAroo PEce Women's Association." Laroo and Pece are two of the four divisions that form Gulu Municipality.
279 Human Rights Watch interview with member of LAPEWA, Gulu, Uganda, February 6, 2003.
280 Human Rights Watch interview with James K. Awundo, Gulu, Uganda, February 4, 2003.
281 Human Rights Watch interview with Peter Onega, head of the Amnesty Commission, Kampala, Uganda, February 10, 2003.
282 John Eremu, "Treason Suspects Apply for Amnesty," New Vision (Kampala), April 5, 2003.
283 Human Rights Watch interview with Edward T., Gulu, Uganda, February 8, 2003.
284 Human Rights Watch interview with Peter O., Gulu, Uganda, February 6, 2003.
285 Human Rights Watch interview with John W., Gulu, Uganda, February 5, 2003.
286 Human Rights Watch interview with Matthew A., Gulu, Uganda, February 4, 2003.
287 Human Rights Watch interview with representative of the Church of Uganda, Gulu, Uganda, February 2, 2003; Human Rights Watch interview with journalist from The Monitor (Kampala), January 27, 2003.
288 Human Rights Watch interview with representative of a local organization in contact with the children after they escaped the LRA in October 2001, February 1, 2003., Gulu, Uganda.
289 Letter, Justice and Peace Commission to Col. G. Muheesi, Fourth Division UPDF commander, February 8, 2002.
290 Human Rights Watch interview with Martin P., Gulu, Uganda, February 6, 2003.
291 Human Rights Watch interview with journalist with The Monitor (Kampala), January 27, 2003.
292 Human Rights Watch interview with Lt. Paddy Ankunda, Gulu, Uganda, February 5, 2003.
293 See also Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Global Report 2001, and Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Child Soldiers 1379 Report, November 2002 (prepared to follow up U.N. Security Council resolution 1379 on children and armed conflict).
294 Human Rights Watch interview with representative of the Church of Uganda, Gulu, Uganda, February 8, 2003.
295 Human Rights Watch interview with Lt. Paddy Ankunda, Gulu, Uganda, February 5, 2003.
296 Human Rights Watch interviews with IDP camp reliable source., Gulu, Uganda, February 5 & 9, 2003.
297 Human Rights Watch interview with Church of Uganda representatives, Gulu, Uganda, February 6, 2003. These representatives conducted direct interviews with the recruits in June and July 2002.
298 Ibid. See Ogen Kevin Aliro, "Records Show 10,000 `Ghosts' Found in UPDF," The Monitor (Kampala), May 22, 2002.
299 Human Rights Watch interview with local councilor (LC-I) from Pece division, Gulu, Uganda, February 5, 2003. Additional documentation provided to Human Rights Watch, February 28, 2003.
302 ICCPR, article 12 provides: "1. Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence. . . ."
303 U.N. OCHA, "Humanitarian Update - Uganda," vol. IV, issue 2, February 28, 2002. (Some 508,4000 internally displaced Ugandans in southwestern and northern Uganda reside in and around protected villages/IDP camps on a full or part-time basis.)
304 Uganda acceded to Additional Protocol II of 1977 to the 1949 Geneva Conventions on March 13, 1991.
305 Protocol II of 1977 to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, article 17.
306 Article 17 of Protocol II was inspired by the wording of Article 49 of Geneva Convention IV relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Article 49 states that "Persons thus evacuated shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area in question have ceased." According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Commentary, "The text which was adopted, with a few additions, has the same tenor as the original draft." ICRC, Commentary on the Additional Protocols of 8 June 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers: Geneva 1987), p. 1492 (footnote omitted).
307 Ibid., p. 1472.
308 Ibid., p. 1473.
309 The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, Principle 7 (1). These Guiding Principles were adopted in September 1998 by the U.N. General Assembly. They reflect humanitarian law as well as human rights law, and provide a consolidated set of international standards governing the treatment of the internally displaced. Although not a binding instrument, the Guiding Principles are based on international laws that do bind states as well as some insurgent groups, and they have acquired authority and standing in the international community. The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, annotations by Walter Kalin, may be found at http://www.asil.org/study_32.pdf (accessed April 15, 2003).
310 Ibid., principle 9.
311 The October 2, 2002 order does not appear to have been published in writing. It was announced in press interviews. See, "Uganda: Acholi ordered back to `protected camps,'" IRIN, Nairobi, October 4, 2002. In this interview, Maj. Shaban Bantariza, the Ugandan army's spokesman, said that civilians had been ordered to return to the camps for protection against the LRA and because the UPDF was conducting a stepped-up offensive against the LRA.
312 "Army gives Acholi 48 Hours to Quit Homes," The Monitor (Kampala), October 4, 2002.
313 Indeed, when rebel forces are supplied from outside the country, they do not feel the pinch of hunger to the same extent as does the rural population when it is deprived of its ability to farm.
314 Protocol II, Art. 17 (1) states:
Should such displacements have to be carried out, all possible measures shall be taken in order that the civilian population may be received under satisfactory conditions of shelter, hygiene, health, safety and nutrition.
315 Under the National Policy on Internal Displacement, prepared by the Office of the Prime Minister Department of Disaster Management and Refugees, the Ugandan government recognized its obligation to provide security for internally displaced persons:
The Ministry of Internal Affairs, in consultation with the Ministry of Defence will extend police services to IDP centres and be responsible for maintaining law and order within the displaced communities and communities where the displaced are returning.
316 Guiding Principles, principle 10 (2) (d).
317 Pabbo camp population was estimated in U.N. OCHA, "Humanitarian Update - Uganda," vol. V, issue 2, February 2003 (February 28, 2003), http://www.reliefweb.int (accessed April 14, 2003). The interviewees believed the camp had 80,000 people.
318 Human Rights Watch interview with Victor Apire, senior mobilizer in the Regional District Commissioner's Office, Gulu, Uganda, February 3, 2003.
319 Human Rights Watch interview with Lt. Paddy Ankunda, Gulu, Uganda, February 5, 2003.
320 Human Rights Watch interview with credible source from Atiak camp, Gulu, Uganda, January 30, 2003.
322 Assessment given by representatives of ACORD, interviewed by HRW in Gulu, Uganda. January 31,2003
323 Human Rights Watch interview with anonymous NGO official, Kampala, Uganda, June 13, 2003.
324 Civil Society Organizations for Peace in Northern Uganda (CSOPNU), "Toward a Just and Lasting Peace in Northern Uganda," paper presented to the Prime Minister of Uganda, Kampala, Uganda, May 2003. CSOPNU was founded by twenty-five civil society organizations in May 2002, to promote advocacy for a peaceful and just solution to the conflict in Northern Uganda. Its steering committee includes CARE, Danida, NGO Forum, Oxfam Great Britain, Save the Children Denmark and Uganda Child Rights NGO Network.
325 CG Common Donor Statement on Northern Uganda, Kampala, Uganda, May 2003.
326 Residents' reports and interviews with former abductees confirm that the LRA moves freely in Pader district in 2002-03, and that there are small mobile LRA training camps in the area. Civilians are forced to hand over to the LRA whatever food they have grown or purchased.
327 U.N. OCHA, "Humanitarian Update - Uganda," vol. V., issue 2 (February 2003).
328 U.N. OCHA, "Humanitarian Update - Uganda," vol. V., issue 2 (February 2003).
329 Article 3.8, food security:
- Support for food-for-asset programmes aimed at preparing land, rehabilitating social infrastructure and other activities necessary for community stability . . . .
330 Human Rights Watch interview with representatives of ACORD, Gulu, Uganda, January 31, 2003.
331 Uganda enjoys two planting seasons due to abundant rainfall and fertile soil.
332 U.N. OCHA, "Humanitarian Update - Uganda," vol. V, issue 3 (March 2003).
334 John Mut-Ono P'Lajur, "Far from Over," The Monitor (Kampala), March 2, 2003.
335 Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC) debriefing of Mission to Northern Uganda, Kampala, January 24, 2003.
337 U.N. OCHA reported,
However, due to a critical shortfall of cereals in January 2003, WFP [World Food Programme] has been forced to suspend distributions of cereals to the IDPs in northern Uganda and to reduce all cereal rations to refugees by 50 percent until the pipeline stabilizes. IDPs in northern Uganda are expected to receive only pulses, vegetable oil, and some CSB during January. . . . [T]he current shortfall [is] 87,329 tons from January to July 2003.
U.N. OCHA, "Humanitarian Update - Uganda," vol. V, issue 1 (January 2003). Despite pledges from donors, serious food pipeline shortages remained. On April 1, 2003, WFP took over the responsibility for food distribution from the UNHCR for the refugee camps inside Uganda, on a one-year basis. WFP, "WFP Emergency Report No. 14 of 2003," April 4, 2003, http://www.reliefweb.int (accessed April 14, 2003).
338 "Malnutrition rates high among displaced children," IRIN, Nairobi, Kenya, March 5, 2003.
339 Press release, "WFP welcomes announced cease-fire by LRA rebels and potential impact on humanitarian situation in north," WFP, Rome, March 4, 2003; "Humanitarian Crisis Looms in Rebel Infested Region," African Church Information Service, Kampala, February 17, 2003.
341 U.N. OCHA, "Humanitarian Update - Uganda," vol. V, issue 2 (February 2003).
342 Human Rights Watch interview with Amoro camp credible source, Gulu, Uganda, January 30, 2003.
343 ICCPR, article 12 provides: