Militarism in Uganda

>> Wednesday, November 7, 2007

War on terrorism leads to rights abuses: watchdog

By Tim CocksMon Nov 19, 9:25 AM ET

Torture, beatings, executions, racist stereotyping and intrusive surveillance are among the abuses countries are committing in the name of fighting terrorism, a rights watchdog said on Monday.

The Commonwealth Human Rights Commission said since the 9/11 attacks, many nations had been using the military for police work in the so-called "war on terror," leading to brutal policing techniques, including extra-judicial killings.

The Commission made the allegations in a report which reviews human rights in the 53-nation body before the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

"Until recently, torture was condemned as a gross violation of human rights ... fear of terrorism and the desire to respond to it is steadily undermining this absolute prohibition," the report said.

Among the offenders it named was Pakistan, which risks suspension from the Commonwealth because of President Pervez Musharraf's imposition of martial law. Also mentioned was Uganda, where military police this year raided the High Court to seize bailed opposition supporters accused of treason.

"The extra-judicial killing of 'terrorists' provides an easy way of eliminating suspects ... often, these 'terrorists' turn out to be children, dissidents, unarmed and peaceful protesters," the report said.

It said the right not to be jailed without charge was slowly being eroded. In Tanzania and Bangladesh, suspects can be held indefinitely without trial.

In Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei they can be detained for longer than 700 days, while Britain is considering an extension of the 28-day period suspects can be held without charge.

"The consequences of taking people into custody without cause, for long periods of detention, are made even direr by laws that restrict access to counsel," the report said.

"Positive profiling" of terror suspects has spawned racist stereotypes, it said. In Britain, people of south Asian descent are 30 percent more likely than others to be stopped by police.

"Anti-terrorism has resulted in the deepest compromises of our member states on human rights," Yash Ghai, an expert on rights and law at Hong Kong University, told delegates at a Commonwealth People's Forum.

Uganda will host CHOGM on Friday, after a state visit from Britain's Queen Elizabeth, the head of the Commonwealth.

The report notes that despite 13 international counter-terrorism conventions and resolutions, countries have failed to agree on a definition of terrorism.

(Editing by Tim Pearce)

Military service for all Ugandans

Military training is to be made compulsory for all Ugandans, the ruling party has announced.

Anyone who failed to undertake the training would be punished, said National Resistance Movement Secretary General Amama Mbabazi.

The decision was adopted at a five-day party retreat, where leaders participated in military drills and learnt to handle AK-47 rifles.

The NRM seized power in 1986 and won multi-party elections last year.

President Yoweri Museveni only retired from the army in 2004, to meet a legal requirement which bars serving soldiers from being active members of a political party.


Voluntary military service for 18-year-olds, known as "mchaka mchaka", was introduced after Mr Museveni came to power in 1986.

But the system fizzled out in the early 1990s after parents stopped sending their children to military training camps where they were also taught political ideology.

The NRM has been talking about re-introducing it for several years.

"We leaders have had basic training and we shall go back. This is the beginning and we have led the way," Mr Mbabazi told reporters in Kampala.

The NRM secretary general said the military training school would open branches across the country to reach more Ugandans.

Opposition parties have condemned the move, according to local media reports.

Democratic Party Leader John Ssebaana said it was useless.

"This is a gimmick for the party to siphon money from the treasury," he told the Daily Monitor newspaper.

The Forum for Democratic Change, led by President Yoweri Museveni's arch rival, Dr Kizza Besigye, said it would wait to debate merits of the proposal in parliament.

"I think they have brought this now to divert attention from their wrongful act of dressing MPs in military uniform," said FDC spokesman Wafula Oguttu.

Eritrea is the only African country to have compulsory national military service.

Story from BBC NEWS:

‘SPCs should not be armed’

News | November 18, 2007 (Monitor) FRANK NYAKAIRU

The 1,000-plus men and women wearing the monogrammed uniform and totting Kalashnikov assault rifles on Kampala’s streets received inadequate training. They may not only be ill-equipped to protect human rights, but may also commit human rights abuses

Against a backdrop of public anxiety, and anger in some instances, about the latest addition to the security forces, it has emerged that key observations about how the Special Police Constables (SPCs) should have been deployed were apparently not adopted.

A specific observation from their trainers recommending that they should not be given guns particularly stands out. An investigation by Sunday Monitor has also found that the 1,000-plus men and women wearing the monogrammed SPC uniform and totting Kalashnikov assault rifles on Kampala’s streets received inadequate training and have gone without pay for the last four months.

The SPCs are already responsible for two deaths and a couple of unwarranted shootings. SPC Jacob Walusimbi, attached to Old Kampala Police Station, on November 10 reportedly shot two people (one an 11-year-old girl who died) when he was deployed to intervene in a land row.

In September, a traders’ row attracted the attention of SPCs in Nansana. When things got out of hand, one constable opened fire and killed one person. Another shooting incident occurred in front of the eastern gate of Kampala Serena Hotel as SPCs battled with boda boda cyclists.

Critics say these and other unreported cases of excessive use of force and/or undue mistreatment of members of the public have cast a shadow on the force, whose deployment was part of the police’s efforts to intensify security for the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit that opens this week where 53 heads of government are expected to attend the three-day summit in Kampala between November 23 and 25.

Sunday Monitor has now learnt that the SPCs who were in training for just six weeks were not ready to be unleashed on the community. Their trainers at the Police Training School (PTS) in Masindi made this observation. Standard police training stretches over nine months.

In his speech at the passing-out of the SPCs on September 15, the Masindi school commandant, Mr Andrew Felix Kaweesi raised what he said were serious concerns about the force’s readiness.

“As trainers we have observed with serious concern the following out of the course; SPCs unless in special circumstances should not be deployed with automatic rifles, instead they should be given batons,” Mr Kaweesi said in the written speech, a copy of which Sunday Monitor has seen.

He noted that SPCs around the country “need to be re-trained, unit commanders and supervisors equally need refresher training in areas of supervision and command.” Mr Kaweesi said this would “help in solving professional mistakes committed by SPCs and the regular police personnel in general.”

But as is clearly obvious, out of every four SPC personnel on foot patrol around Kampala, usually two are armed with Russian made automatic rifles, while the other two hold batons.”
Sunday Monitor has also obtained a copy of letter written by Human Rights Watch (HRW) to the Inspector General of Police, Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura, dated May 2 warning that SPCs, at least those who were deployed in northern Uganda, were involved in rights abuses possibly because they are ill-trained.

“SPCs not only may be ill-equipped to protect human rights, but may also commit human rights abuses. Like SPCs, LDU soldiers are locally recruited and receive limited training. Some of the newly recruited SPCs are themselves former LDUs. LDUs have proven ineffective at times at providing civilian protection from LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) rebels, and, meanwhile, numerous observers have reported human rights abuses committed by LDU soldiers,” HRW said in the letter to Gen. Kayihura.

HRW noted that this misconduct including “police demands for money from crime victims in exchange for their services” will undermine the police force’s efforts to enhance their presence in northern Uganda.

The international human rights watchdog said its concerns were based on the findings of research carried out between January and February in 12 internally displaced persons camps.
The organisation said in its letter that “some police officials interviewed by HRW acknowledged that this basic training [of about one and a half months was] inadequate to equip these individuals to carry out police work.”

“HRW is also concerned that inadequately trained SPCs may be more likely to commit human rights buses,” the letter said.Sunday Monitor was not able to get a comment from Maj. Gen. Kayihura for two days, however, force publicist Asan Kasingye denied that they ignored the Masindi trainers’ observations.

“Those recommendations did not apply to the 1,073 SPCs deployed in Kampala they only applied to SPCs around the country,” Kasingye said in an interview with Sunday Monitor. He dismissed public fears that the SPCs are generally ill-trained and trigger happy.

“The two incidents are isolated cases of indiscipline. For instance, the two officers who forced that SPC to work 24 hours and ended up shooting people were arrested,” he said. “We have 6,000 SPC’s countrywide, if they were trigger happy, we would be having 6,000 bodies on the streets,” he added. But even then, the presence of the SPCs has been met with scepticism.

“After Black Mamba, and the Kiboko Squad we are wondering whether these are not their cousin force because no one knows them, no one knows where they came from but they have guns and are on the streets,” said Mr Herbert Arinaitwe, a security and community policing expert told Sunday Monitor.

A member of the public, who preferred not to be named, said of the SPC’s on Kampala’s streets as being “tough-looking gun-totting men early in the morning and weary, lazy and hungry-looking by evening.” This kind impression again highlights the issue of money; are the SPCs paid at all? Do they look hungry and weary because they cannot afford to buy lunch? And above all, it touches on the personal traits of the constables in respect of their background and previous occupation.

THREAT TO THE COMMUNITY: SPCs have caused concern because they misuse their guns

elements.” Was he saying something through this statement?

Considering the public outcry, especially in Kampala, Mr Kasingye’s position will come under particular scrutiny. This the more so since the SPCs received what amounts to a crash course (six weeks in training) in which they covered basic military skills, counter terrorism, VIP protection, police duties and procedure, human rights, skills at arms, political education and Chogm policing standards.

Mr Arinaitwe insisted that the SPCs could not have adequately covered these crucial subjects in depth in just six weeks. “That is impossible” Mr Arinaitwe said.

“Basic military skills alone will take more than six weeks and how would these people master which bomb types and how to detonate them in such a short time?

“These people were rushed through and that is very dangerous,” he added. With less than a week to go for the long awaited Chogm, the issue of SPCs has now attracted government attention. Internal Affairs minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, said his ministry might review the entire strategy.

“We are investigating these cases. If we find that they are part of a bigger problem, we might have to review the whole policy,” Dr Rugunda said in an interview on Friday.

Similar concern is also emerging in Parliament with Maj. Jessica Alupo, who sits on the House’s defence and internal affairs committee, telling Sunday Monitor on Friday that: “We are going to ask the chairman of the Chogm security committee (Maj. Gen. Kayihura) to explain these incidents to us. We also want to know why these SPCs have not been paid because a hungry man with a gun is a very dangerous one.”

The Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) on the other hand puts it down to what it says is the anti-people mentality of security services in Uganda.

“There is a multiplicity of agencies - the so-called squads. In the eyes of the public, the SPCs are just one of them. Our forces are yet to appreciate the value of life; they continue to deploy unnecessary and excessive force,” said FHRI boss Livingstone Ssewanyana.

Whatever the case, it is clear that the SPC security strategy is one that has been received with mixed impressions: on the one hand petty crime appears to have receded, and yet there are murmurings of high-handedness.

Additional reporting by Andrew Bagala.

Youth get chakamchaka training
Sunday, 18th November, 2007
Students assemble AK47 rifles during the training on Saturday

Students assemble AK47 rifles during the training on Saturday

By Frank Mugabi

THE youth have been urged to utilise available resources for development.
Passing out 427 students who completed a three-week political sensitisation and mobilisation course (chakamchaka) in Yumbe town on Saturday, the acting Yumbe resident district commissioner, Emmy Katabazi, said: “The youth must form a critical mass that strives to defend their motherland.”

He said training like chakamchaka were aimed at raising a youth league that is ‘immunised against’ intrigue, confusion and indiscipline.

Presiding over the function, minister without portfolio Dorothy Hyuha said the Government was promoting industrialisation to solve the dilemma of mass unemployment in rural areas.
The students, 168 of them girls, were drawn from Green Valley and Yumbe Modern secondary schools.


About This Blog

The X.U.G (Xpose Uganda's Genocide) Coalition was created to bring to light the truth about Yoweri Museveni's woefully undemocratic regime and the ongoing secret genocide in northern Uganda, with the aim of the restoration of human rights and peace.

The coalition's secondary goal is to ensure accountability for reconstruction and development funds slated for war-torn N. Uganda by the US and other donors.

A crisis of epic proportions, the genocide being carried out against the Acoli for the last two decades has produced devastating consequences.

For the sake of current and future generations in Uganda, the world must recognize and end the genocide in Uganda. All Ugandans have a right to basic human rights, including the right to health, protection and education.

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