Uganda: Human rights violations by the National Resistance Army

Report
December 3, 1991

Uganda: Human rights violations by the National Resistance Army


The government has followed a policy of incorporating soldiers from varied backgrounds into the NRA, including members of former government armies, combatants who belonged to insurgent groups other than the NRA which fought against President Milton Obote's government in the first half of the 1980s, and even rebels who have fought against the current government. In some cases it appears that such people have had little option but to join the NRA - there are reports of individuals for whom the alternative was imprisonment. It is widely acknowledged that this process has changed the character of the NRA from being a tightly-organized, disciplined guerrilla force to a large standing army of variable quality and experience. This change is frequently cited by Ugandan Government officials as a reason for the continuing occurrence of human rights violations. However, blaming inadequately trained soldiers from former armies is no excuse - particularly as soldiers and intelligence officials who have been with the NRA since before it took power in 1986 have themselves been implicated in the violation of human rights. Furthermore, it has been government policy to entrust the NRA with a major law-enforcement role throughout the country, at the expense of the ordinary police or others. It is the government's responsibility to ensure that all NRA soldiers are disciplined, properly accountable and are well-trained in human rights issues. The continuing violation of human rights by soldiers suggests that there are significant weaknesses in operational procedures within the NRA and that the army does not regard itself as accountable to civil society.



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(1) Resistance Committees (RCs) are the grassroots structure of the ruling National Resistance Movement. They have responsibilities for local government and mobilizing people in support of the government.
(2) The National Resistance Council (NRC) is Uganda's parliament.
(3) Article 14 (5) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states that "everyone convicted of a crime shall have the right to his conviction and sentence being reviewed by a higher tribunal according to law". This tribunal should have the characteristics of a court and should be independent.
(4) Uganda: Death in the Countryside: killings of civilians by the army in 1990 (AFR 59/15/90).
(5) Kandooya, also known as "three-piece tying", involves tying the victim's arms together above the elbows, behind the back. It is extremely painful, putting great pressure on the chest, causing difficulties in breathing and sometimes permanent damage to the arms. A variation, known as "briefcase", involves the victim's legs also being tied up behind his or her back. The victim may then be suspended above the ground. The practice was officially outlawed in the NRA in early 1987 and this reduced the frequency of cases reported. It has not been stamped out completely, however, and in recent years individual cases have been reported in various parts of Uganda.