MOROTO – The Uganda Human rights commission (HRC) has said the abuse of human rights in Karamoja region which had gone so high during disarmament exercise has drastically reduced.
While briefing the media in Moroto regional human rights office Mr. Christopher Ogwang, the head of Uganda HRC Moroto district said that the UPDF which used to be the main perpetrators of the abuses of human rights when disarmament exercise was launched have become so friend and the force that respects human rights.
According to Mr. Ogwang, currently, the commission receives petty cases like child negligence, deprived of properties unlike in the past when the commission could only get cases of torture and long detention of suspects.
He attributed the reduction of abuse of human rights cases to the continuous sensitization and trainings of soldiers, Police and local defence Unity by Uganda Human rights commission on the importance of respecting human rights.
“We receive as commission mainly the cases of property wrangle, not many of torture in nature although the commission is still handling torture cases committed in the past time during disarmament,” he said.
In 2001 government launched the first phase of the disarmament exercise comprised voluntary disarmament which was carried out between December 2001 and January 2002 but it didn’t yield good results since the armed Karimojong refused to give out the guns and become more aggressive to the army.
After noticing that the Karimojong were resisting from giving out guns President Museveni issued a circular addressed to political leaders and the military in the region outlining the guidelines for the disarmament exercise phase two.
The circular outlined the government commitment to the following: Increasing the quantity and quality of the police, intelligence and local defence units (LDUs) to guarantee better protection to the people in the region, establishing permanent barracks along Kenya and South Sudan borders, constructing a security road along the border.
On February 15, 2002, PML Daily witnessed the launch of second phase of disarmament exercise and it was largely a military-led exercise with the following components. Shooting on-site person found with a gun along the roads, Cordoning and searching suspected villages and kraals, Arresting and prosecuting suspected criminals, Curbing of cattle raids and strengthening the recovery of livestock, patrolling the international borders with Sudan and Kenya, Recruiting the remaining quota of vigilantes per sub county.
In this second phase of disarmament it’s when military intelligence realized that some leaders were demobilizing the armed Karimojong not to hand over their guns and those leaders were arrested and beaten.
When the army applied beating method to any leader cited encouraging cattle raids, it yielded good results in disarmament and by the end of 2003, 10,000 guns were recovered from the Karimojong although ther was an element of human rights abuse.
The army continued with the operations and more than 50,000 guns have so far been recovered in the hands of the Karamojong warriors according to the army and currently, there is peace in Karamoja.
Ms Patricia Acham Okiror the commissioner human rights said the commission will continue exploring all avenues to ensure that even the petty cases of deprived of property will be eliminated