Annual Report: Uganda 2009

Report
May 28, 2009

Annual Report: Uganda 2009

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Head of state and government Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
Death penalty retentionist
Population 31.9 million
Life expectancy 49.7 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 132/119 per 1,000
Adult literacy 66.8 per cent

Security in the north increased after progress was made in peace talks between the government and the armed group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), aimed at ending the 20-year conflict in northern Uganda. However, the final peace agreement was not signed by the end of 2008. The government continued to undermine freedom of expression and press freedom. Violence against women and girls persisted throughout the country. State security agents tortured or otherwise ill-treated detainees with impunity.

Background

A major corruption case remained pending. A former health minister, his two deputies and a government official faced criminal charges of embezzlement and abuse of office in connection with the Global Fund against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Armed conflict

The peace negotiations, which led to a number of agreements between the government and the LRA, were concluded but a final peace agreement was not signed by the end of 2008.

In February, the government and the LRA signed an Annex to the Agreement on Accountability and Reconciliation signed in June 2007. Under the terms of the Agreement and Annex, LRA leaders accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes would be tried by a Special Division of the High Court. The proposed framework fell short of a comprehensive plan to ensure that the truth is told, justice is done, and that reparation is provided for all the victims of the conflict. The arrest warrants issued in 2005 by the International Criminal Court for Joseph Kony, the LRA leader, and three LRA commanders remained in force, but were not executed by the Ugandan or regional governments.

In February, the parties signed an Agreement on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR), committing both parties to an orderly DDR process in line with national policies and international standards. The agreement had significant flaws regarding victims’ rights to measures to help them rebuild their lives.

Thousands of men, women and children who suffered abuses during the 20-year conflict in northern Uganda remained destitute and physically and mentally traumatized due to the government’s failure to put in place a comprehensive reparations programme.

LRA forces outside Uganda were believed to have abducted hundreds of people during 2008, including children, and to have committed a number of other human rights abuses, including unlawful killings, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Southern Sudan and the Central Africa Republic. In December, Ugandan government armed forces participated in a joint operation with troops from South Sudan and the DRC in a military operation against the LRA.

"Violence against women and girls was virtually never treated as a criminal offence."

Internally displaced people

By the end of 2008 over half (about 900,000) of the internally displaced people (IDPs) in northern Uganda had left the IDP camps. Most moved to transit sites, smaller camps closer to their homes and some returned to their original villages. However, in Acholiland – the area most affected by the conflict – only 24 per cent of people reportedly returned to their villages of origin.