Uganda: "Breaking God's commands": The destruction of childhood by the Lord's Resistance Army

Report
September 17, 1997

Uganda: "Breaking God's commands": The destruction of childhood by the Lord's Resistance Army

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  • on the UN Secretary General to respond to the Machel report on the impact of armed conflict on children by appointing a special representative on children and armed conflict;
  • on the Committee on the Rights of the Child to mount an investigation in northern Uganda on the impact of war on the human rights of children and on the progress of the Uganda Government in implementing in practice its positive obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to protect the rights of children. The committee should come forward with practical proposals to ensure the protection of the rights of children;
  • on the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Sudan to make the investigation of the abuse of children's human rights a priority;
  • on the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women to investigate and report on the situation of women and girl-children in northern Uganda;
  • on the OAU's African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights to place the human rights of children on the agenda of its next meeting in October 1997 and to issue a call for African governments to ratify the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child;
  • on donor governments to support initiatives to resolve conflict and rehabilitate northern Uganda that place emphasis on establishing respect for human rights and confronting the legacy of human rights abuses by all parties;
  • on governments to support measures to increase the protection of children from abuse in situations of armed conflict, including supporting the draft optional protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child aimed at raising the minimum age of recruitment of soldiers.

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(1) Statement by Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), CF/DOC/PR/1997/27, 3 July 1997.
(2) Human rights violations by government forces in northern Uganda have been previously documented by Amnesty International in Uganda: The human rights record 1986-1989 (AFR 59/01/89), March 1989 and Uganda: The failure to safeguard human rights (AFR 59/05/92), September 1992.
(3) pp 55-56 Parliamentary report on the war in the north, Sessional Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs, Parliament of Uganda, February 1997.
(4) Ibid, p56.
(5) Other reports detailing the abuse of children's human rights by the Lord's Resistance Army include Shattered innocence: testimonies of children abducted in northern Uganda by Robbie Muhumuza, World Vision Uganda/UNICEF, 1996; Scars of death: children abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, Human Rights Watch, September 1997.
(6) Ibid, p49.
(7) Figures compiled by Gulu District Disaster Committee.
(8) The National Resistance Army was renamed the Uganda Peoples' Defence Forces in the October 1995 constitution
(9) Until April 1997 when a "peace agreement" was signed with the Sudan Government, Kerubino Kuanyin Bol's forces claimed to be at war with Khartoum.
(10) LRA bases at Palotaka, Parajok and Owiny-Ki-Bul were overrun by the SPLA in October 1995.
(11) Some reports have claimed that children abducted by the LRA have been sold as slaves to Sudanese. Amnesty International has not found any evidence to support this.
(12) Figures presented by World Vision Uganda to a conference on Challenges to reconciliation and the protection of human rights in Gulu on 7 July 1997, organized by the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative.
(13) Article 1 of the 1926 Slavery Convention defines a slavery as "the status or condition of a person over whom any of the powers of ownership are exercised".
(14) Organizations providing aftercare for escaped child soldiers have opted not to check them for HIV/AIDS.
(15) p.140, Equity and vulnerability: A situation analysis of women, adolescents, and children in Uganda, 1994, Uganda National Council for Children, The Government of Uganda.
(16) p.125, Country Report in Preparation for the Fourth World Conference on Women 1995, Ministry of Gender and Community Development.