Army denies involvement in sexual violence

By Jeff Andrew Lule

Added 1st March 2017 12:15 PM

Rights activists claimed to have received several complaints about UPDF personnel sexually abusing women in Northern Uganda

The Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) has refuted allegations that some of their personnel are have been engaged in sexual violence in Northern Uganda.

The head of human rights affairs in the UPDF, Col. Charles Wacha refuted the allegations saying it was not true.

"Those must be wrong characters who were using military outfits and the community thought it was UPDF" he said.

This was during a UPDF workshop on the International Protocol on Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict at Protea Hotel in Kampala.

The workshop was the climax of six months training of UPDF, Police, women rights activists, civil society and medical students among others, facilitated through the Refugee Law Project (RLP) funded by the British High Commission.

During the event several human rights activists said that they had received several complaints about UPDF personnel sexually abusing women in Northern Uganda.

Wacha explained that during the time of rebellion in the area; "some of our uniforms ended up in the hands of rebels and many of the victims thought it was UPDF."

He noted that the army had received similar complaints, and decided to decommission some of the uniforms.

"All other uniforms were decommissioned and we now only have three types including; digital, office and ceremonial uniforms. This helps us to easily identify ourselves," he noted.

Wacha said those found clad in the decommissioned uniforms would be arrested on sight.

He also explained that conflicts in Kasese are as a result of proximity of the area to DRC, propaganda by interest groups and land disputes.

"The proximity of Kasese to DRC has caused us problems. They deceive children that they are taking them to school and later recruit them into ADF" he said.

Wacha added that UPDF has decided to introduce special economic programmes including; Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) and Youth Livelihood Program (YLP) among others to engage the youth into developmental programs.

He said UPDF also recommended to government that they work on land reforms in the area because the biggest area in Kasese is under national parks.

"We are looking at none militarization solutions to see how we can help locals and leaders to promote peace and development," he said.

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