- On 16 October, a family of four was shot dead by a member of the UPDF at the main entrance to the 4th Division Headquarters in Gulu Town. The soldier was reportedly a former LRA combatant.
Allegations of torture and ill-treatment committed by state security agents persisted throughout 2005. Uganda submitted its initial report on the implementation of the UN Convention against Torture to the Committee against Torture after a delay of 16 years. The Committee noted with concern “the lack of proportion between the high number of reports of torture and the very small number of convictions for such offences” which contributed to impunity. While acknowledging the difficult situation of internal conflict in northern Uganda, the Committee stressed that there were “no exceptional circumstances, whatsoever, which may be invoked as a justification of torture”.
- In July, the High Court sitting at Arua in the north-west ordered the government to pay compensation of Uganda Shillings 20,000,000 (approximately US$11,000) to Justine Okot, following his arrest and torture by UPDF soldiers who accused him of being a “rebel collaborator”. He had been beaten with clubs and iron bars and molten plastic was poured on his body. He sustained severe injuries and permanent impairment. By the end of the year, he had not received payment.
Violence against women and girls
Women and girls continued to face widespread violence both in the public and private spheres of life, being subjected to beatings, killings, acid attacks and rapes. In northern Uganda, women and girls were raped and killed by all parties to the conflict. While police expressed concern about the growing number of rapes, especially of young girls, acts of violence were little reported for fear of reprisals. Between January and June, the rapes of 292 girls were reported in mid-western Uganda (Kabarole, Kamwenge, Bundibugyo, Kyenjojo and Kasese districts).
In September the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that the country adopt legislative measures to prohibit the persistent practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). It also recommended awareness-raising campaigns to combat FGM and other traditional practices harmful to the health, survival and development of children, especially girls.
In a landmark judgment delivered on 10 June, the Constitutional Court ruled in favour of ending laws that stipulate a mandatory death sentence. It ruled that the death penalty as such was not unconstitutional when it was defined as the maximum sentence for a crime, but that laws imposing a mandatory death sentence interfered with a judge’s discretion in dispensing justice. The court stated that such laws were unconstitutional and must be amended by Parliament. The Attorney General appealed against the ruling and by the end of 2005, the parties were awaiting the hearing of the appeal before the Supreme Court.
Death sentences continued to be imposed. At Luzira Maximum Security Prison, at the end of June, there were 555 prisoners on death row, 27 of whom were women. No executions were reported during the year.
AI country visits
AI delegates visited northern Uganda in May and June to conduct research. An AI representative met President Museveni in October during his visit to the UK.