Uganda: Human rights violations by the National Resistance Army

December 3, 1991

Uganda: Human rights violations by the National Resistance Army

UDCA insurgents have also abducted civilians. Abducted women have often been raped and those trying to escape have sometimes been executed. On 9 July 1991 rebels belonging to the UDCA abducted 43 schoolgirls from the Sacred Heart School in Gulu. One of them, Jane Okula, is reported to have been killed in front of the other girls after she was caught trying to escape. By the start of September 1991 all but three of the girls had been freed by the NRA or had managed to escape. Most had been raped and some were reported to have become pregnant as a result. Earlier in the year, on 16 February, seven employees of the Ministry of Health in Gulu, including Joyce Otto, Julius Otto, and Mrs Apire, were abducted after their landrover was attacked by rebels in Lamogi Sub-County, west of Gulu town. Four managed to escape a few days later but the whereabouts of the others remains unknown to Amnesty International. On 9 March 1991 35 school students were reported to have been abducted from Abim secondary school in Kotido District by rebels from Kitgum.

In other incidents civilians have been deliberately mutilated by rebels. For example, on 24 June 1991 at Cet-Kana, north of Gulu town, four young men were killed and four others had their right hands cut off. Joseph Kinyera, John Okullu, Peter Onono and Cones Onekalit were captured by UDCA rebels while they were eating after working together on the farm of Joseph Kinyera's mother. They were taken to a nearby house were their right hands were severed with a panga. On 2 July UDCA rebels are alleged to have caught and mutilated eight women at Loka-Abolo in Gulu District. Joyce Alanyo and Jennifer Aol had their ears cut off. The rebels cut of the noses, ears and upper lips of Concy Laker, Florence Adoc, Concy Lawil, Christine Aciro and Jennifer Akwero. On 3 July seven civilians, three of whom died, are reported to have been mutilated by UDCA rebels at Achet, east of Gulu town. In August four elderly women from Awere in Kitgum District had their ears and lips cut off.

8. Conclusion

Major human rights violations have occurred in Uganda since 1986 and have continued to be frequent in 1991. They have been particularly acute in areas where the NRA is fighting armed insurgents - and in 1991 there have been especially serious problems in the north - but are not restricted to those areas. When the current government took over in January 1986 it inherited a legacy of gross human rights violations from previous governments. There was an immediate improvement in the human rights situation in many parts of the country. Six years further on it seems that the authorities have grown to tolerate a persistent and serious level of human rights violations by the NRA. The continuing abuse of the rule of law suggests that the government no longer regards strengthening respect for human rights as a priority. The government is failing to take decisive steps to prevent NRA human rights violations. The repeated failure to take prompt action to investigate reports of NRA human rights violations effectively means that despite a public commitment to respecting human rights, the authorities in fact condone human rights violations.