III. Background

The remote Karamoja region of northeastern Uganda, stretching across 10,550 sparsely populated square miles,1 is home to several traditionally agropastoralist groups. For the Karamojong, as these groups are collectively known, restrictions on access to grazing lands across international and district borders have made survival amidst harsh environmental conditions—including frequent drought—more difficult. Successive governments have also marginalized the area, leaving it with the lowest development and humanitarian indicators in Uganda,2 weak governmental institutions, and little support for alternative livelihoods.

Within these wider challenges of development, serious insecurity including cattle raiding, banditry, and road ambushes, exacerbated by pervasive use of illegal weapons, presents a significant law and order problem in Karamoja. During the period July 2003 to August 2006, at least a thousand lives were lost in cattle raids, armed clashes, banditry, and law enforcement operations. 

The present National Resistance Movement government under President Yoweri Museveni has tasked the national army, the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF), with law enforcement responsibilities in the region. These responsibilities include armed operations to recover raided cattle and to arrest criminal suspects, and (as was the case under previous colonial and post-independence regimes) programs of disarmament. It is in this context that serious human rights violations by military personnel are reported to have taken place, particularly in the period since the government launched a new program of forced disarmament in May 2006.

A. Livelihoods and Insecurity in Karamoja

While the several ethnic groups of agropastoralists who live in northeastern Uganda are referred to collectively as Karamojong,3 they constitute three distinct groups: the Dodoth to the north in Kaabong district; the Jie in central Karamoja in Kotido district; and the Karimojong to the south in Moroto and Nakapiririt districts.4 Other smaller groups in Karamoja include the Pokot, the Tepeth, and the Labwor.5 The population of the region is just under one million persons according to the 2002 census.6

In Karamoja, agropastoralism—livestock herding accompanied by cyclical migrations of people and animals and supplemented by settled agricultural cultivation—represents a specific response to environmental conditions that make agriculture difficult to sustain reliably.7 Failed or poor crops occur in approximately one out of every three years, making livestock products an essential source of sustenance.8 Pastoralism in Karamoja thus “is the only [subsistence] strategy that works consistently, given the ecological realities of their universe.”9 Notably, a recent study by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Uganda found that while only 11 percent of households in a sample drawn from the eight counties of Karamoja derived more than half of their income from livestock and were thus classed as agropastoralists, agropastoral households had the lowest prevalence of food insecurity or moderate food insecurity in the region.10

During a typical cordon and search operation, government soldiers surround a manyatta–a traditional homestead like this one (shown here from above)–in the early hours of the morning, detaining residents outside while their houses are searched for weapons. © 2006 Raymond Rutting

Migration is a key element in this strategy, allowing for the movement of herds between pasture areas in response to environmental pressures.11 During the rainy season, herds are grazed near to permanent homesteads or manyattas, with cattle camps or kraals12moving out to distant grazing lands during the dry season.13 Men, women, children, and the elderly are present at both manyattas and kraals, resulting in a “constant flow of people, information, and livestock.”14

Movements by some groups reach into the neighboring Acholi, Lango, and Teso regions of Uganda, and into Kenya.15 Access to grazing land outside of and between sections of Karamoja, however, has been restricted over time by government policy beginning in the colonial period—including the imposition of a fixed border between Uganda and Kenya16—and continuing in the post-independence era.17 Conflict between groups within Karamoja, particularly within the Karimojong beginning in the late 1970s, has also curtailed grazing areas internal to Karamoja.18

While livelihood strategies vary across Karamoja and groups engage in livestock keeping, agriculture, and other economic activities in differing degrees—often reflecting underlying ecological and historical differences19—the Karamojong regard themselves as cattle people. Livestock herding is essential to both cultural identity and livelihood,20 and the rights to both are protected by international law.21

While sharing much in common with neighboring groups in Kenya and Sudan, 22 the pastoralism of Karamoja and its attendant cyclical migrations of people and livestock is largely unique within Uganda. Policies of colonial administrations and post-independence regimes alike have tended toward marginalization of pastoralism in the region:  government initiatives have been directed historically almost wholly toward increasing the sustainability of settled agriculture and the assertion of central control.23 According to one observer, these initiatives, including animal confiscations and restrictions on mobility,24contributed to the present impoverishment of Karamoja by increasing competition over scarce, degraded resources, which in turn amplified the consequences of devastating droughts in the 1960s-80s.25

Competition over scarce resources contributes to high levels of insecurity in Karamoja. Conflicts between groups, including across international borders, and within the Karimojong group, conflict between its major territorial sections the Matheniko, the Pian, and the Bokora,26 take the form of cattle raids. Traditionally, cattle raiding redistributed livestock “relieving grazing pressure on fragile grasslands,” effected political realignments and population distribution, and permitted the quick recovery of livestock losses.27 The frequency of raiding increases with drought, disease, and other environmental stressors.28

Cycles of raiding and counterraiding between and within groups, however, now engender high levels of violence. As an example, there were 474 raids and 1,057 lives lost (including the lives of at least 45 women and children) during the period July 2003 to August 2006, according to data from only a handful of reporting sites in Karamoja collected by the Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN) of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).  Although other violent incidents—including armed clashes, disarmament operations by the Ugandan military, banditry, and even demonstrations—were also reported during the period, CEWARN attributes most of the violent deaths reported in the region to raiding.29

Bokora women from Moroto district, who say they have been forced by the combined effects of drought, government programs of disarmament, and cattle raids to migrate seasonally to Kampala to generate income, described to Human Rights Watch living under the constant threat of raiding:

At 4 p.m. you start to get anxious, you start worrying. [The raiders] come as early as 4 or 5 p.m.

The enemies come at night. They climb fences and come inside the ekidor [main gate] of the homestead. Presently we have no animals. They take property …. If they are not in the mood of killing, they burn your house. They lock the house and burn you in the hut. The frequency [of raids] really varies. It can be once a week …. [If there is] no moon [by which to see at night], no raid. At any other time of month [they] raid.

[I left home because of] hunger, insecurity from cattle rustlers, and disarmament …. The two pressures [of raids and disarmament] at the same time—you can’t really handle it.30

Violence associated with cattle raiding is also periodically felt outside the borders of Karamoja. Cattle raids in the 1980s decimated herds in the neighboring Teso, Acholi, and Lango regions.31 Raids continue to contribute today to the prolonged internal displacement of an estimated 130,000 persons in Amuria and Katakwi districts.32 In areas of the Acholi region bordering Karamoja, persons displaced primarily due to the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency now cite Karamojong raids as a chief source of insecurity.33

The violence associated with cattle raiding is often linked to the wide availability of small arms in the region.34 No reliable estimate exists of the number of firearms—primarily AK-47 assault rifles—in circulation in Karamoja; reported estimates range from 30,000 to 200,000,35 while the Ugandan Ministry of Defence claims that there are 30,000 guns in illegal possession in Karamoja.36 With a population of just under one million persons in the region, the Ministry of Defence’s estimate would amount to approximately one gun for every 30 persons.  Active gun corridors running across international borders to the north and east,37 rebel groups,38 sale by members of the UPDF and its auxiliary forces,39 attacks on armed members of other Karamojong groups and government security personnel for the purpose of stealing weapons,40 and direct arming of local militias by district and central governments41 are all contemporary sources of arms.

Armed violence in the region has also taken on other forms only loosely connected to traditional cattle raiding.  Armed theft of cattle for personal gain and commercial profit, spurred by the arrival of a cash economy and opportunistic businessmen in Karamoja, is common,42 as is banditry, including road ambushes. A report by the Uganda office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) chronicles at least eight ambushes during the period November 16, 2006, to March 31, 2007, involving 14 murders.43 In one of these incidents, 15 women gathering firewood in Nakapiripirit district were ambushed in January 2007. Nine of the women, two of whom were pregnant, were killed, while the remaining six were injured.44 Road conditions can be so insecure that international nongovernmental organizations working in the area have adopted various security protocols for inter-district travel, including following public buses, which are reported to be rarely the target of ambushes. Outside of towns, United Nations (UN) agencies are required to travel with armed escorts in all districts.45 In May 2007 the WFP temporarily suspended operations after one of its drivers was shot and killed in a road ambush in Kotido district. 46  Widespread local opinion attributes banditry to failed or deterred raiders.47

Armed criminality and cattle raiding by civilians in Karamoja poses significant challenges to the government’s responsibility to provide for its citizens’ security and human rights. At the same time, however, government programs to improve security, including programs of disarmament, discussed below, face a fundamental dilemma: guns are used to defend from raiders as well as to rob and steal.

The dynamics behind weapon possession in Karamoja include, for some, the need to secure and defend their cattle and the limited resources essential for their cattle, a matter of life and death.  Removing weapons while not providing sufficient guarantees of safety and security renders, in their view, many communities vulnerable to attack. As a result, at the level of each small community guns are a rational feature of pastoralist life in Karamoja, given intensified competition over scarce resources between groups, all with access to arms, the absence of alternative supports for pastoralist livelihoods, and, as discussed immediately below, effective state security institutions.48

B. Government Approach to Law and Order in Karamoja

The near absence in Karamoja of civilian law and order institutions exacerbates high levels of insecurity and criminality and rationalizes recourse to self-help by local communities. A draft planning document issued by the Ugandan Office of the Prime Minister in 2005 states: “Very few civil servants are willing to work in conditions of constant insecurity which is the norm in Karamoja. As a result Government infrastructure has been destroyed or broken down. Police posts, prisons quarters, and District Farm Institutes have totally been demolished or simply abandoned to run to ruin.”49

Although the government announced plans in March 2007 to recruit an additional 30 police officers per subcounty in Karamoja,50 as of August 2006 there were as few as 137 police officers of the central Uganda Police Force in the entire region.51 With a population just under one million, the ratio of central police officers to population would have been 1:7,300, about one-sixteenth that of the UN standard of 1:450 and one-quarter that of the national ratio of 1:1,80052.

Government-sponsored security institutions that do exist are often auxiliary forces drawn from the local population and provided with limited law enforcement training; desertion from such forces has left weapons in circulation in the region in the past.53 Auxiliary police units—Anti-Stock Theft Units (ASTUs)—have been deployed along the borders of Karamoja to prevent cattle raiding into neighboring regions, and an expansion of the program into Karamoja itself was announced in July 2007.54 Human Rights Watch has expressed concern, however, that the limited training provided during the related recruitment of “special police constables” in the neighboring Acholi region of northern Uganda may have been insufficient to protect against human rights violations by these forces and to ensure effective, professional policing.55

Other law and order resources are similarly scarce. There is no high court presence in the region.56 The districts of Nakapiripirit, Abim, and Kaabong lack any judicial presence altogether.57 This means that in Nakapiripirit district, for example, criminal suspects must be transported over 100 kilometers to the nearest magistrate judge in Moroto town.58 There is a prison in every district apart from Kaabong.59

In this vacuum, the responsibilities tasked by the President Museveni government to the UPDF are extensive. They include armed operations by UPDF soldiers to recover raided cattle as well as to track and apprehend criminal suspects.

In instances of the former, UPDF soldiers have at times partnered with the raided community—including in at least one case providing members of the Bokora community with guns—to track cattle.60  Cattle recovery operations by the UPDF have also led to violent confrontations between UPDF soldiers and armed members of Karamojong communities. In February 2007, as discussed further below, the UPDF claims that its soldiers encountered a stolen herd while on routine patrol in Kotido district. According to UPDF spokespersons and a subsequent statement by the Ministry of Defence, a fierce confrontation between UPDF soldiers and herdsmen over several days left a reported four soldiers and at least 52 armed civilians dead.61

(UPDF soldiers have also taken on responsibilities for livestock protection. The UPDF claims to have branded over 150,000 heads of cattle to discourage raiding,62 and has established UPDF-guarded kraals at army barracks in some areas. In Kaabong, the UPDF-guarded kraals have provided some protection, although the kraals have still been vulnerable to raids.63 Access of cattle owners to the kraals is restricted, impairing collection of livestock products for food and the use of oxen for agriculture.64 Further, it is not clear how these kraals will be compatible with necessary migrations. Herds are normally broken up into smaller groups than the size of the herds currently kept in some of the UPDF-guarded kraals,  and, as indicated above, migrations are usually accompanied by men, women, and children; these factors pose logistical and protection challenges.65)

Apprehending criminal suspects can also bring the UPDF into conflict with local communities. In January 2007 UPDF soldiers engaged in a firefight with residents of a village in Lotome subcounty, Moroto district as they entered the village while tracking suspects who had killed nine women collecting grass in Nabilatuk subcounty, Nakapiririt district a few days earlier. (The incident is discussed in detail in Chapter V.A.)

Civilians tried by courts martial

Apprehension of criminal suspects is sometimes followed by prosecution before courts martial (two men accused of the murder of the nine women mentioned immediately above were court martialed and received nine and ten years’ imprisonment, for example66). Uganda law provides for civilians to be tried under military jurisdiction, including for the unlawful possession of arms “ordinarily being the monopoly of the Defence Forces.”67 This jurisdiction has been challenged before the Ugandan constitutional court, but has been upheld by a vote of three-to-two, at least where civilians are charged under the UPDF Act jointly with military officials.68 According to the spokesperson for the UPDF Third Division, although UPDF soldiers sometimes do hand over “warriors”—a term commonly used to refer to armed members of Karamojong communities—for prosecution before civilian courts, “the military courts are faster. People themselves ask us to use military courts. They have lost faith in the civilian courts. We don’t have time to wait for civilian courts. We are doing the work of the police.”69 

C. Government Disarmament Policies in Karamoja

Disarmament has been another key element in the President Museveni government’s law and order strategy for Karamoja, as it had been for previous governments.70 The present government launched its first effort to disarm the Karamojong and to secure the region shortly after it came to power in 1986.71 Reportedly accompanied by human rights violations, in the view of one commentator, the “campaign apparently succeeded only in intensifying the hostitility of northern pastoralists toward the government in the south. Subsequently, armed looting of government and nongovernment facilities and convoys became the chief strategy for [Karamojong] recovery and resistance.”72

Concerted attempts by the government to disarm Karamojong communities were renewed in 2000. In March of that year, politicians from neighboring regions affected by Karamojong cattle raids succeeded in passing a resolution in parliament calling for a program of disarmament in Karamoja.73 A disarmament campaign was formally launched in December 2001.74

The disarmament campaign had a deadline of February 15, 2002, for the voluntary surrender of weapons. Preceded by an extensive mobilization campaign, which reached out to women, local politicians, and kraal leaders, and offering incentives including “an ox-plough, a bag of maize flour, and a certificate as a token of appreciation” to those individuals who handed in weapons, the two-month initiative succeeded in securing the surrender of approximately 10,000 weapons.75

After the expiry of the deadline for voluntary surrender of weapons, however, the strategy was shifted to one of military-driven forced disarmament, using “cordon and search” operations involving  the creation by UPDF soldiers of a secure perimeter around manyattas and kraals, which are then searched for weapons.76 There were soon reports of human rights violations: according to interviews conducted in Karamoja by one observer in March and April 2002, these included killings, beatings, rape, and looting.77 An Irish priest, Fr. Declan O’Toole, who reported to the UPDF and his embassy beatings he witnessed during disarmament operations in Nakapelimoru, Kotido district on March 9,78 was shot dead along with two companions by UPDF soldiers on March 21, 2002.79 Within days, on March 25, two soldiers were executed publicly by UPDF firing squad in Kotido town for his murder.80

The 2001-02 disarmament was ultimately unsuccessful. A draft government planning document attributes this in part to the redeployment of the UPDF from Karamoja to elsewhere in northern Uganda to fight a resurgent Lord’s Resistance Army, claiming this left behind inadequate troop strength to provide protection to communities that had surrendered their weapons, as well as a failure to provide promised incentives in exchange for weapons. 81 In addition, the use of force led to a loss of trust and support among Karamojong communities and leaders for the disarmament.82 

Insecurity escalated. According to one observer, groups retaining weapons, along with the UPDF itself, “sought to test [potentially new balances of military power] by raiding those thought to be less well-armed. Seldom has there been raiding in so many directions at once at the same time.”83 Uneven patterns of disarmament thus left some groups in Karamoja vulnerable to the raids of those groups still with arms. There is evidence that the present round of disarmament in 2006-07 is having the same consequence for some communities.84

The disarmament also paradoxically brought an influx of weapons into the region. Some groups who were disarmed and then raided by their neighbors rearmed for their own protection.85 Pian home guards were directly rearmed by the government after uneven patterns of disarmament left the Pian vulnerable to raids.86 In addition, the central government initially established local defense units (LDUs) in Karamoja, as well as in neighboring regions, as a component of the disarmament program to provide security against raiding. In Karamoja, the LDUs, which were never clearly under police or military supervision as a matter of law,87 were permitted to retain their weapons, which were then registered as government property.88  Instead of residing in their communities, however, the LDUs were placed in mixed units, under central UPDF command,89 and some were taken to fight the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency.90 This led to high desertion rates as the initial understanding of LDU recruits within Karamoja that “they would reside in the community and be able to protect their own cattle and people and with money to feed their own families” was disappointed.91 Deserting LDU soldiers took their weapons with them or, lacking clear supervision, simply used them for their own ends.92 At the same time, fear of locally raised self-defense forces in neighboring Lango and Teso regions—the Arrow and Amuka boys—spurred acquisition of weapons within Karamoja.93 

In September 2004 President Museveni revived disarmament as a priority.94 In the interim, national commitments to conflict resolution, including through disarmament, arms control, peacebuilding, and development in Karamoja, were strengthened by their inclusion in the 2003-04 revision of the Ugandan government’s key development framework, the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP). 95 The revised PEAP also called for implementation of the National Action Plan on Arms Management and Disarmament (NAP).96 This is a comprehensive framework for implementation of the government’s various commitments to arms control under international and regional agreements,97 and is administered by a National Focal Point (NFP) housed in the Ministry of Internal Affairs.98

As launched in 2004, the new disarmament initiative was primarily voluntary, with provision for forcible disarmament as a last resort. A new round of consultations with stakeholders in Karamoja was undertaken by President Museveni and other government officials.99 At the same time, the Office of the Prime Minister and international development partners, led by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), began to seek out a framework for disarmament that would capitalize on lessons learned from 2001-02 by coupling disarmament with development interventions. The result, after intensive consultations, was a draft Karamoja Integrated Disarmament and Development Programme (KIDDP).100

Not yet formally launched, the KIDDP continues to be discussed within the government, the donor community, and UN agencies. At this writing, the present draft, dated January 2007, sets out seven “programme components.” These include programs directed at improving security through disarmament, regional arms control, preventing raids, and the development of community security arrangements; strengthening law and order institutions; increasing the provision of social services; and developing alternative livelihoods. The draft, however, prescribes very little sequencing of disarmament and development interventions, and the first six months of programming heavily prioritize disarmament.101 As a result, observers have expressed concern that the KIDDP as presently drafted does not provide adequate incentives for voluntary disarmament in the absence of first providing realistic alternatives to reliance on guns for the protection of livestock and livelihoods, as discussed above. The draft also continues to provide for forced disarmament through cordon and search operations, albeit as a last resort.102

D. Return to Cordon and Search Disarmament, May 2006-Present

In May 2006, while the KIDDP was under discussion in the Office of the Prime Minister and various working groups in Kampala, President Museveni directed the UPDF to begin cordon and search disarmament operations. This directive was spurred by the slow pace of voluntary disarmament—between November 1, 2004, and April 30, 2006, only 1,697 guns were surrendered103 —and what the Ministry of Defence characterized as a sharp increase in armed crime in Karamoja.104

Cordon and search operations

Human Rights Watch interviewed two UPDF spokespersons about cordon and search operations; these spokespersons provided slightly different accounts of a typical operation.

According to the Ministry of Defence/UPDF spokesperson, Maj. Felix Kulayigye, in a typical cordon and search operation UPDF soldiers surround an area identified through intelligence-gathering as having a certain number of firearms. Once this cordon is in place, the army commander then informs the local leaders, including the kraal leader and the local councilors105 of the presence of the army and the nature of the disarmament. All individuals are then requested to exit the homesteads—manyattas—within the cordon.106 

Soldiers conduct a search of the manyattasand collect any firearms. The owners of firearms collected by or surrendered to the UPDF are given certificates to document their disarmament.107 Major Kulayigye claimed that once the search is completed, UPDF personnel leave the area, although any individual who resists disarmament by firing on soldiers may be arrested.108

However, according to Lt. Henry Obbo, the UPDF spokesperson for the Third Division (the division of the UPDF conducting the disarmament operation in Karamoja), after a search is completed, men from the cordoned area are escorted to so-called “screening centers” located within nearby army facilities. With the assistance of local leaders, the men are checked against a list the UPDF claims to have of all gun owners. If an individual is on the list, he is kept at the screening center.109 If an individual is not on the list, he is released, unless he is otherwise wanted by the police or the military on suspicion of other crimes, including road ambushes and forcibly resisting disarmament by shooting at soldiers. In those cases, the individual is turned over to the police under the civilian criminal justice system or placed in military detention to face a court martial.110

According to Lieutenant Obbo, men detained at the screening center are held for one to two days. They are not arrested for unlawful possession of firearms. Instead, local leaders inform the families of the detained men that they should bring the men’s guns to the barracks to secure their release. Obbo stated that even if relatives have not turned in guns to the barracks, no one is detained beyond one to two days.111

Major Kulayigye, however, insisted that arrest and detention of men for the purpose of forcing the surrender of weapons had occurred early on during the disarmament, but was an act of “indiscipline and never authorized by policy.112 In a subsequent response to a letter from Human Rights Watch setting out the key findings of this report, Major Kulayigye acknowledged that “some persons are inconveniently rounded up and taken to screening centers” where “the wanted are sorted out from the innocent and later detained as investigations go on,” but that these screening centers are “not military detention centres or facilities.”113

Human Rights Watch does not know the exact number of cordon and search operations that have been carried out since the disarmament campaign was launched in May 2006. It is likely that they have varied in frequency from place to place. For example, eight cordon and search operations were recorded in Moroto district, 12 in Kotido district, and two in Nakapiripirit district between the start of the disarmament and June 15, 2006.114 In Kaabong district, cordon and search operations were reportedly as frequent as twice a week in the initial months of disarmament, but as few as nine operations were carried out during the period September 2006 to January 2007.115 The member of parliament for Pokot county in Nakapiripirit district estimated that each of the approximately 125 villages in his constituency has been subject to four cordon and search operations since May 2006.116

Scale of alleged human rights violations connected with UPDF operations

According to a Ministry of Defence news release, 1,008 guns had been recovered through these cordon and search disarmament operations as of March 2007.117 Allegations of human rights violations by UPDF soldiers, including killings, detentions, beatings, rape, and the destruction of property, however, also surfaced almost as soon as these operations began anew in May 2006. Already as of June 15, 2006, sources reported that the disarmament and related operations had claimed 23 civilian lives, including in exchanges of fire between soldiers and armed civilians, left 22 civilians injured, and resulted in 279 arrests in Kotido, Moroto, and Nakapirpirit districts, while the UPDF had collected 663 guns.118

During the period October 29, 2006, to March 31, 2007, OHCHR reported that at least 161 and possibly as many as 189 civilians were killed in cordon and search operations and other UPDF-conducted law enforcement operations. The reported deaths took place allegedly under various circumstances, including, critically, exchanges of fire between soldiers and armed civilians. They included deaths during four cordon and search operations,119 two UPDF operations of an unspecified nature,120 one UPDF cattle recovery operation,121 the operation to apprehend murder suspects in Lotome subcounty, Moroto district that spawned a confrontation with the local community (mentioned above and discussed in detail below in Chapter V.A),122 and—accounting for the vast majority of deaths—two armed confrontations between the UPDF and Karamojong communities in Lopuyo village, Kotido district in October 2006123 and in Kotido subcounty, Kotido district in February 2007 (also discussed in more detail in Chapter V.A, below.)124 OHCHR also reported that UPDF soldiers were killed during some of these and other incidents:  an unknown number were killed during the confrontation in Lopuyo in October 2006;125 four were killed in Lotome in January 2007;126 seven were killed in Kotido subcounty in February 2007;127 and three soldiers were killed in attacks on February 19, 2007, in Koblin village, Moroto district and on March 10, 2007, in Loroo subcounty, Nakapiripirit district.128 In addition, OHCHR reported cases of torture, arbitrary arrests, and destruction of property.

In response to these and other allegations,129 the government of Uganda has taken several steps to curb human rights violations by its forces. These steps, discussed in greater detail below,130 include launching four investigations; developing a set of internal UPDF guidelines governing the conduct of military personnel during cordon and search operations, the violation of which subjects a soldier to discipline under the UPDF Act; providing UPDF soldiers conducting cordon and search operations with human rights training; and engaging with community members and local leaders about the goals of disarmament. The most recent information received by Human Rights Watch indicates that cordon and search operations, while still ongoing, have been markedly less violent than in earlier months of the disarmament campaign and accompanied by far fewer allegations of human rights violations.

As this report demonstrates below, however, UPDF forces are alleged to have committed serious human rights violations in the course of cordon and search and other law enforcement operations in Karamoja since May 2006, and the government of Uganda has not yet taken steps to provide adequate accountability for the majority of these violations. In addition, the failure to make applicable the procedural safeguards that ordinarily attach to civilian law enforcement operations leaves those subject to UPDF operations in Karamoja vulnerable to arbitrary searches, arrests, and detentions, as well as heightens the risk of other serious human rights violations occurring during the conduct of UPDF operations.

1 Ben Knighton, The Vitality of Karamojong Religion (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 2005), p. 19.

2 UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), “Uganda 2007 Consolidated Appeals Process,” November 30, 2006,$FILE/CAP_2007_Uganda_VOL1_SCREEN.pdf?OpenElement (accessed April 18, 2007), p. 12.

3 Knighton, Karamojong Religion, p. 24.

4 Sandra Gray et al., “Cattle Raiding, Cultural Survival, and Adaptability of East African Pastoralists,” Current Anthropology, vol. 44, supplement (December 2003), p. S4.

5 Robert Walker, “Anti-pastoralism and the growth of poverty and insecurity in Karamoja: Disarmament and development dilemmas; A Report for DFID East Africa (Uganda),” March 2002, unpublished document on file with Human Rights Watch, p. 7.

6 Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), “Searching for Peace and Human Rights,” Special Report, 2004,$file/karamoja.pdf (accessed July 19, 2007), p. 4.

7 Sandra J. Gray, “A Memory of Loss: Ecological Politics, Local History, and the Evolution of Karimojong Violence,” Human Organization, vol. 59 (2000), pp. 402-03.

8 Sandra Gray, Paul Leslie, and Helen Aliga Akol, “Uncertain disaster: environmental instability, colonial policy, and resilience of East African pastoralist systems,” in William R. Leonard and Michael H. Crawford, eds., Human Biology of Pastoral Populations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 108-09.

9 Gray, “Memory of Loss,” pp. 402-03;  James E. Ellis and David M. Swift, “Stability of African pastoral ecosystems: Alternate paradigms and implications for development,” Journal of Range Management, vol. 41 (1988), pp. 450-59.

10 UN World Food Programme Uganda, “Emergency Food Security Assessment Karamoja Region,” unpublished document on file with Human Rights Watch, pp. 20-22 (data collected in April 2007).

11 Gray, “Memory of Loss,” p. 403.

12 Neither manyatta nor kraal is a local term, but are used in this report consistent with their widespread use within Uganda by the media and policymakers. Permanent homesteads were variously termed manyattas or villages by the translators who worked with Human Rights Watch, and the terms homestead, manyatta, and village are used interchangeably in this report.

13 Neville Dyson-Hudson, Karimojong Politics (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), pp. 59-61.

14 Gray, Leslie, and Akol, “Uncertain disaster,” p. 109-11. As a general matter, women, young children, and the elderly remain in the manyattas, and men and boys above the age of five stay in the camps with the herds, along with some girls and young women. See also Dyson-Hudson, Karimojong Politics, pp. 33-34. But the population balance between manyattas and kraals varies by group and also by season. The Pokot, for example, rarely engage in cultivation, and, thus, the entire community remains with the cattle; among certain Karimojong sections and the Tepeth, young girls and young boys are present in the kraals in equal proportion, and the most vulnerable women and children are also sent to stay in the kraals to increase their access to livestock products. See Elizabeth Stites, Dyan Mazurana, and Darlington Akabwai, Feinstein International Center, untitled document (publication pending). 

15 Knighton, Karamojong Religion, pp. 29-30; Dyson-Hudson, Karimojong Politics, pp. 59-61; Charles Emunyu Ocan, “Pastoral Crisis in North-eastern Uganda: The Changing Significance of Cattle Raids,” Centre for Basic Research Working Paper No. 21, June 1992, pp. 8, 13-14. 

16 Gray, Leslie, and Akol, “Uncertain disaster,” pp. 115-16.

17 Ocan, “Pastoral Crisis,” p. 10; Walker, “Disarmament and development dilemmas,” pp. 11-12, 16-17.

18 Stites, Mazurana, and Akabwai, untitled document (publication pending); Gray, “Memory of Loss,” pp. 411-12.

19 For example, according to Gray, many Bokora families were unable to recover from drought and raiding in the 1970s, losing their livestock holdings altogether, forcing outmigration and aid dependency, while the Pian, forced by Pokot raids to migrate further south in the 1950s, benefited from contacts with missionaries and international donors and turned increased rainfall in their new areas to their advantage, developing commercial agriculture. Gray, “Memory of Loss,” pp. 411-12. These changes reverberate politically: again, according to Gray, Bokora and Pian—educated through their contacts outside the region— dominate Karamoja politics and civil society, to the exclusion of the Matheniko, who benefited from raids against the Bokora and thus retained pastoralism to a greater degree. Ibid., p. 412.

20 Ibid., p. 406.

21 See generally, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), adopted December 16, 1966, G.A. Res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 171, entered into force March 23, 1976, acceded to by Uganda in 1995, art. 27 (right to cultural identity); International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, G.A. res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N.GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 49, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 993 U.N.T.S. 3, entered into force Jan. 3, 1976, acceded to by Uganda in 1987, art. 6 (right to livelihood). The UN Human Rights Council in 2006 adopted a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that provides for the right of indigenous peoples “to be secure in the enjoyment of their own means of subsistence and development.” Human Rights Council Resolution 2006/2, adopting the text of the Declaration and recommending the adoption of the Declaration by the General Assembly, June 29, 2006, (accessed June 26, 2007), art. 20. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has called on states to ensure that “no decisions directly relating to [indigenous peoples’] rights and interests are taken without their informed consent.” Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, General Recommendation 23, Rights of indigenous peoples (Fifty-first session, 1997), U.N. Doc. A/52/18, annex V at 122 (1997), reprinted in Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations Adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, U.N. Doc. HRI\GEN\1\Rev.6 at 212 (2003). Uganda acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 1980. The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, adopted June 27, 1981, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/67/3 rev. 5, 21 I.L.M. 58 (1982), entered into force  Oct. 21, 1986, ratified by Uganda in 1986, provides in article 22 that “All peoples shall have the right to their economic, social and cultural development with due regard to their freedom and identity.”

22 The Karamojong of Uganda belong to the broader “Karamojong” or “Karimojong” cluster of ethnic groups, which includes at least the Iteso in the neighboring Teso region of Uganda, the Turkana in northeastern Kenya, and the Toposa and Jiye in southeast Sudan, and the Dongiro (Nyangatom) in southeast Sudan and southwest Ethiopia. Compare definition in Knighton, Karamojong Religion, p. 23 n.18, with Gray et al., “Cattle Raiding, Cultural Survival,” p. S4.

23 Gray, Leslie, and Akol, “Uncertain disaster,” pp. 117-18 (colonial policies); Walker, “Disarmament and development dilemmas,” pp. 11-17.

24 Gray, “Memory of Loss,” pp. 408-10; Walker, “Disarmament and development dilemmas,” p. 16.

25 Gray, “Memory of Loss,” pp. 409-10; see also Walker, “Disarmament and development dilemmas,” pp. 15-17.

26 Animosity between these territorial sections is of such intensity that, for Gray, “Karimojong” has ceased to be “a meaningful classification.” Gray, “Memory of Loss,” pp. 404-05. Knighton, while still ascribing a distinct identity to the Karimojong, admits that “when [the Karimojong territorial sections] raid each other’s cattle, they define other Karimojong as enemies, which is confessedly problematic for identity.” Knighton, Karamojong Religion, p. 24. 

27 Gray, “Memory of Loss,” pp. 404, 406-07.

28 Ibid., p. 404.

29 The Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN) in the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Region, “CEWARN Country Updates: May-August 2006, For the Ugandan Side of the Karamoja Cluster,” January 11, 2007 (preliminary draft), (accessed May 22, 2007), pp. 6, 19. IGAD is a regional umbrella group comprising Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, and Uganda (Eritrea withdrew from membership in 2007 in protest of IGAD’s view on Ethiopia’s role in Somalia).

30 Human Rights Watch group interviews, Kisenyi, Kampala, January 30, 2007. The recent experiences of Bokora migrants, primarily women and children, in Kampala, including conditions of economic, sexual, and physical exploitation, and beatings at times at the hands of city officials and police officers, as well as the return and resettlement in February 2007 of some of these migrants in Moroto district under circumstances that may increase their vulnerability to violence are reported in Elizabeth Stites, Dyan Mazurana, and Darlington Akabwai, Feinstein International Center, “Out-migration, Return, and Resettlement in Karamoja, Uganda: The case of Kobulin, Bokora County,” June 2007, (accessed June 12, 2007), pp. 14-23. In February 2007 several hundred primarily Bokora migrants were removed from Kampala and housed temporarily at a juvenile detention facility before their removal to Moroto district. Ibid.; and “Uganda: Gov’t relocates ‘beggar’ pastoralists,” IRIN, April 19, 2007 , (accessed April 19, 2007).  The compatibility of these removals and returns—including conditions of detention—with Uganda’s obligations under national and international human rights law bears further research and analysis.

31 Kennedy Agade Mkutu, “Small Arms and Light Weapons among Pastoral Groups in the Kenya-Uganda Border Area,” African Affairs, vol. 106 (2007), p. 52; Knighton, Karamojong Religion, p. 132; and Gray et al., “Cattle Raiding, Cultural Survival,” p. S14.

32 OCHA, “Uganda 2007 CAP,” p. 11.

33 David Labeja and Charles Akena, “Karimojong create insecurity in Pader,” Monitor (Kampala), February 13, 2007; Elizabeth Stites, Dyan Mazurana, and Khristopher Carlson, Feinstein International Center, “Movement on the Margins: Livelihoods and Security in Kitgum District, Northern Uganda,” November 2006, (accessed May 24, 2007), p. 15.

34 Gray and her colleagues, writing primarily about the experience of the Karimojong, believe that violence in Karamoja has increased in the last 30 years, correlated with the wide availability of guns, but caused by the increased competition for scarce resources to support pastoralist survival due to factors discussed above. At the same time, however, for Gray and her colleagues, reliance on armed raiding threatens pastoralist survival given the detrimental impact of armed raiding on the population. Gray et al., “Cattle Raiding, Cultural Survival,” pp. S13-S22; Gray, “Memory of Loss,” pp. 408-11. Knighton disagrees with this analysis. He notes that “there have never been more Karamojong people or cattle than at the start of this millennium,” Knighton, Karamojong Religion, p. 127 n.32, and that  Karamojong culture, with increased cattle ownership facilitated by guns and the weakness of neighboring regions in northern Uganda, is “thriving.” Ibid., p. 132. Knighton does ascribes some change to the increased presence of guns in Karamoja, such as shifts in the balance of power between groups brought about by variation in access to guns, including through uneven patterns of disarmament. But, overall, “[c[urrent expressions of Karamojong violence are not an aberration, but just the modern outcome of old practices, ideas, and institutions of Karamojong warfare…. In other words, mortal violence against the other in Karamojong history has very little to do with the gun, Western technology and globalization.” Ibid., pp. 112-32.

35 Knighton, Karamojong Religion, p. 127 (cataloging estimates from various sources, but stating “n0-one knows at all [how many guns are in Karamoja], for there will be no counting”); Mkutu, “Small Arms and Light Weapons among Pastoral Groups,” pp. 47-48.

36 “Response to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Report,” Republic of Uganda Ministry of Defence news article, May 10, 2007, (accessed May 14, 2007).

37 Mkutu, “Small Arms and Light Weapons among Pastoral Groups,” pp. 52, 57-61.

38 Ibid., p. 52, 60.

39 Ibid., p. 52.

40 Ibid., pp. 56-57.

41 Ibid., pp. 53-55.

42 Ibid., pp. 62, 66; Kennedy Mkutu, Pastoral conflict and small arms: The Kenya-Uganda border region (London: Saferworld, 2003), pp. 15-16; Ocan, “Pastoral crisis,” p. 2; and “Cattle rustling ‘goes commercial,’” IRIN, March 21, 2007, (accessed July 18, 2007). 

43 See UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Uganda: Update report on the situation of Human Rights in Karamoja, from 16 November 2006 to 31 March 2007,” April 19, 2007, (accessed May 21, 2007), pp. 10-12.

44 Ibid., p. 11. As discussed further below, a violent confrontation ensued between UPDF soldiers tracking the murder suspects and a Karamojong community in Lotome subcounty, Moroto district.

45 OCHA, “2007 Uganda CAP,” pp. 54, 56, 57.

46 “WFP and Ugandan government agree to resume aid to Karamoja,” WFP press release, May 31, 2007, (accessed June 13, 2007).

47 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Elizabeth Stites and Dyan Mazurana, Feinstein International Center, Tufts University, Boston, January 18, 2007.

48 Mkutu, “Small Arms and Light Weapons among Pastoralist Groups,” pp. 61-62, 68-69 (“[G]uns are now an instrument of economic subsistence as well as protection.”); see also Gray et al., “Cattle Raiding, Cultural Survival,” pp. S13-S15, S21-22 (characterizing armed raiding among the Karimojong as essential to maintaining access to cattle, and through cattle, pastoralist identities, while also demonstrating that the detrimental effects of armed raiding on the population threaten survival in the long term).

49 Office of the Prime Minister, Republic of Uganda “Recovery and Development Programme for Northern Uganda; Volume I: Emergency Rehabilitation,” February 2005 (discussion draft), p. 19. 

50 Milton Olupot, “Police to deploy in Karamoja – Kiyonga,” New Vision (Kampala), March 22, 2007, (accessed March 23, 2007).

51 Karamoja investigation committee draft report (undated), unpublished document on file with Human Rights Watch, pp. 36-37. There may have been additional local administration police incorporated into the central Uganda Police Force in 2006.

52 See UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Report on the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Uganda,” addendum to “Implementation of General Assembly Resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006 Entitled ‘Human Rights Council,’ Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and follow-up to the World Conference on Human Rights,” A/HRC/4/49/Add.2, February 12, 2007, p. 10.

53 In the mid-1990s one such scheme known as “The Vigilantes” succeeded in reducing insecurity on the roads temporarily. See Mkutu, Pastoral conflict and small arms, p. 14.  “The Vigilantes” were originally recruited by Moroto District Council, and were later expanded and put under UPDF command. But failure to pay “The Vigilantes”—caused in part by confusion over whether they were under the authority of the police or the army—led to desertion, and deserting personnel retained weapons that might otherwise have been subject to collection during disarmament programs. Mkutu, “Small Arms and Light Weapons among Pastoral Groups,” pp. 53-54. Successive government efforts to organize local defense units met with similar results.

54 Nathan Etengu, “Government to Recruit 4000 ASTU Forces,” New Vision  (Kampala), July 31, 2007 (accessed August 1, 2007). 

55 Letter from Human Rights Watch to Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura, inspector general of police, Uganda Police Force, May 2, 2007,

56 Office of the Prime Minister, Republic of Uganda, “Karamoja Integrated Disarmament and Development Programme: Creating Conditions for Promoting Human Security and Recovery in Karamoja, 2007/2008-2009/2010” (KIDDP), January 2007 (draft), p. 74 (identifying “designat[ion of] a High Court judge to Moroto to constitute a special High Court session” as a recommended task to “improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Judiciary”).

57 Karamoja investigation committee draft report, p. 37.

58 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Michael Walatum, resident district commissioner, Nakapiripirit district, August 9, 2007.

59 Ibid.

60 Human Rights Watch interview with Elizabeth Stites, New York, April 6, 2007. See also Kakaire A. Kirunda, “Ex-Warriors to Benefit From UPDF Project,” Monitor  (Kampala), April 30, 2007 (noting joint cattle recovery operations between the UPDF and a group of men who surrendered their weapons during the disarmament exercise in Nakapiripirit district). 

61 Human Rights Watch interview with Maj. Felix Kulayigye, Ministry of Defence/UPDF spokesperson, Kampala, February 15, 2007, and Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Lt. Henry Obbo, UPDF Third Division spokesperson, February 15, 2007. 

62 “UPDF cannot torture Karamojong pastoralists,” Republic of Uganda Ministry of Defence news article, (accessed March 19, 2007).

63 Confidential communication with Human Rights Watch, November 16, 2006.

64 Confidential communication with Human Rights Watch, July 2, 2007.

65 Stites, Mazurana, and Akabwai, “Out-migration, Return, and Resettlement,” p. 25 (discussing kraals in Bokora area).

66 Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with Lt. Henry Obbo, March 12-13, 2007.

67 Section 119(h)(i) of the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces Act, 2005, subjects persons found in unlawful possession of arms “ordinarily being the monopoly of the Defence Forces” to military law, and, in section 122, defines as an offense “failure to protect war materials” including “illegal possession of arms” by a person subject to military law.

68 See Uganda Law Society v. Attorney General of the Republic of Uganda, Constitutional Court Petition No. 18 of 2005, decision of January 31, 2006 (Judgment of Mukasa-Kikonyogo, Deputy C.J.), p. 44.

69 Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with Lt. Henry Obbo, March 12-13, 2007.  According to Obbo, between May 2006 and March 1, 2007, 68 civilian men from the Karamoja region were convicted of unlawful possession of firearms before courts martial; this figure does not include other civilians detained on remand in military facilities who had not yet been tried. In his 2007 State of the Nation address, President Museveni claimed that 101 “hard-core warriors” had been tried and imprisoned by the Third Division Court Martial. H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, State of the Nation Address 2007, June 13, 2007, (accessed June 20, 2007).  Human Rights Watch has previously expressed its concern that the trial of civilians by military courts in Uganda may abridge international fair trial rights. See Human Rights Watch, State of Pain: Torture in Uganda, vol. 16, no. 4(A), March 2004,, pp. 68-69.

70 UHRC, “Searching for Peace and Human Rights,” pp. 60-63.

71 Gray et al., “Cattle Raiding, Cultural Survival,” p. S14-S15. 

72 Ibid., p. S15. 

73 Office of the Prime Minister, “KIDDP,” p. 7.

74 Ibid.

75 Ibid., pp. 7-9; Mkutu, Pastoral conflict and small arms, pp. 30-31.

76 Office of the Prime Minister, “KIDDP,” p. 9.

77 See Ben Knighton, “The State as Raider among the Karamojong: ‘Where There Are No Guns, They Use the Threat of Guns,’” Africa, vol. 73 (2003), pp. 439-46. 

78 See Fr. Fons Eppink, MHM, “Fr Declan O’Toole MHM, a martyr for peace and reconciliation,” Mission Today, Autumn 2002, (accessed August 12, 2007) (excerpting letter from Fr. O’Toole describing what he witnessed on March 9, 2002, and his subsequent actions). See also Knighton, “The State as Raider,” pp. 439-42.

79 “Soldiers arrested for Irish priest murder,” BBC News Online, March 23, 2002, (accessed May 24, 2007).

80 “Priest condemns Uganda execution,” BBC News Online, March 26, 2002, (accessed May 5, 2007).

81 Office of the Prime Minister, “KIDDP,” pp. 9-10.

82 Knighton, Karamojong Religion, p. 128 n.33.

83 Knighton, Karamajong Religion, p. 122; see also Office of the Prime Minister, “KIDDP,” pp. 9-10.

84 Stites, Mazurana, and Akabwai, “Out-migration, Return, and Resettlement,” pp. 7-8.

85 Office of the Prime Minister, “KIDDP,” p. 9.

86 Mkutu, “Small Arms and Light Weapons among Pastoral Groups,” p. 55.

87 Ibid., p. 54.

88 Office of the Prime Minister, “KIDDP,” p. 10.

89 Ibid.

90Mkutu, “Small Arms and Light Weapons among Pastoral Groups,” pp. 54.

91 Ibid.

92 Ibid., pp. 54-55.

93 Ibid. p. 55.

94 Office of the Prime Minister, “KIDDP,” p. 12.

95 Sarah Bayne, Saferworld, “Aid and conflict in Uganda,” March 2007, (accessed May 24, 2007), pp. 13-17.

96 Ibid., p. 15.

97 Office of the Prime Minister, “KIDDP,” p. 17.  Chief among these commitments is the Nairobi Protocol for the Prevention, Control, and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons, which mandates the establishment of National Focal Points in its signatory countries. Nairobi Protocol for the Prevention, Control, and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons, April 21, 2004, (accessed June 12, 2007), art. 16. Both Kenya and Sudan, also signatories to the Nairobi Protocol, have established National Focal Points. See Regional Centre on Small Arms and Light Weapons, member state information, (accessed June 12, 2007).

98 Ibid.

99 Office of the Prime Minister, “KIDDP,” p. 17; Human Rights Watch interview with Maj. Felix Kulayigye, February 15, 2007. 

100 Office of the Prime Minister, “KIDDP,” p. 12. 

101 Ibid., p. 91.

102 Ibid., pp. 43-44.

103 Human Rights Watch interview with Maj. Felix Kulayigye, February 15, 2007. 

104 “Response to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Report,” Republic of Uganda Ministry of Defence news article.

105 As in the rest of Uganda, local government in rural areas consists of local councils at the village (LCI), parish (LCII), subcounty (LCIII), county (LCIV), and district (LCV) levels. Local Government Act, 1997, as amended by the Local Governments (Amendment) Act, 2006, sections 3, 9, 23, 45(2).

106 Human Rights Watch interview with Maj. Felix Kulayigye, February 15, 2007.  OHCHR reports that the UPDF has altered its strategy to target kraals, instead of manyattas. See UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Update report,” p. 8. As the UN High Commissioner points out, ibid., and as also discussed above in Chapter III.A, women and children are frequently present in kraals. The same risks to men, women, and children identified here of operations carried out against manyattas are presented by operations against kraals.

107 Human Rights Watch interview with Maj. Felix Kulayigye, February 15, 2007. 

108 Ibid.

109 Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with Lt. Henry Obbo, February 15, 2007 and March 12-13, 2007. 

110 Lt. Obbo seemingly contradicted himself on this point, claiming in one interview that some men are turned over to face a court martial, and in another interview, that no men are arrested for purposes of facing courts martial during cordon and search operations. Instead, those civilians in Karamoja who have faced courts martial are those who are caught engaging in road ambushes and other criminal activity. Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with Lt. Henry Obbo, February 15 and March 12-13, 2007.

111 Human Rights Watch telephone interviews with Lt. Henry Obbo, February 15, 2007 and March 12-13, 2007.

112 Human Rights Watch interview with Maj. Felix Kulayigye, February 15, 2007. 

113 Response from Ministry of Defence/UPDF spokesperson’s office to Human Rights Watch letter of July 23, 2007, received on September 4, 2007 (included below as Annex III).

114 Unpublished document on file with Human Rights Watch.

115 Confidential communication with Human Rights Watch, November 16, 2006; unpublished documents on file with Human Rights Watch.

116 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Francis Kiyonga, Pokot county member of parliament, Kampala, August 9, 2007. 

117 “Response to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,” Republic of Uganda Ministry of Defence news article.

118 Unpublished document on file with Human Rights Watch. A report appearing in Inner City Press detailed allegations of five killings, four rapes, detentions, and the destruction of property in connection with three specific disarmament operations in Jimos village, Kotido subcounty, Kotido district, on May 19, 2006, Loputiput and Longoleki villages, Nadunget subcounty, Moroto district, on May 19, 2006, and in Loperot parish, Moroto district, on May 26, 2006. Matthew Russell Lee, “Strong Arm on Small Arms: Rift Within UN about Uganda’s Involuntary Disarmament of the Karamojong Villages,” Inner City Press, June 21, 2006, (accessed May 13, 2007).

119 These cordon and search operations took place in Kadokini village, Kotido district on November 10, 2006 (3 men shot dead by UPDF soldiers), UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Uganda:  Situation in Kotido, Karamoja, from 29 October to 15 November 2006,” November 23, 2006, p. 6; Longoromit village, Lobongia parish, Kaabong subcounty, Kaabong district, December 10, 2006 , UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Update report,” p. 8  (1 local defense unit deserter killed),  Akorikeya village, Pokot county, Nakapiripirit district, January 31, 2007, ibid., p. 9 (2 people killed); and Kapus dam, Kotido district, February 2007 (34 individuals killed in confusion caused by cordon and search operations), ibid., pp. 19-22. 

120 These operations took place in Kanawat village, Kotido district, November 14, 2006 (4 people killed in exchange of fire), and Usake/Morungole Hills, Kalapate subcounty, Kaabong district, November 24, 2006 (5 persons killed). UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Kotido situation report”, pp. 6-7; and “Update report,” p. 8.

121 Kalodeke village, Lokolia parish, Kaabong subcounty,  December 7, 2006 (8 persons killed). UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Update report,” p. 8.

122 Ibid., p. 11 (4 murder suspects killed).

123 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Kotido situation report,” pp. 4-5 (48 villagers killed).

124 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Update report,” p. 9 (52-80 killed). As discussed further below, the relationship between these confrontations and the cordon and search operation on a kraal in the same area during the same time period is not clear.

125 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Kotido situation report,” p. 5.

126 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Update report,” p. 11.

127 Ibid., p. 9.

128 Ibid., pp. 11-12.

129 According to a review conducted by Human Rights Watch, the English-language print media in Uganda reported that 11 civilians, including two women, were killed by UPDF soldiers during cordon and search operations, while 28 others were killed during UPDF-conducted law enforcement operations to foil ambushes and raids between May 2006 and at this writing. These figures exclude dozens of casualties during operations in Lopuyo in October 2006 and in Kotido subcounty in mid-February 2007 for which various estimates were reported.

130 See Chapter VI below, “Government Response to Alleged Human Rights Violations.”