Tag Archives: Uganda

ICC: Uganda Ongwen-victim and villain

04.02.2021 The Hague, The Netherlands: War crimes judges deliver their verdict in the case of Dominic Ongwen, a Ugandan child soldier turned top field commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group known for extreme violence and forcing women into sexual slavery.

Ongwen, 45, faces 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity and could be imprisoned for life if convicted. Judges will not address sentencing on Thursday, February 4.

Ongwen’s case is complex because under the law “you have either a victim or a perpetrator and anything in between is very difficult to squeeze in,” said Barbora Hola, senior researcher at the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement.

The ruling at the International Criminal Court (ICC) will be the first dealing with crimes by the LRA, New York-based Human Rights Watch said.

It highlights the difficulty of trying somebody who, as a conscripted child soldier, is both an alleged perpetrator and a victim. His lawyers have asked for acquittal.

Detained in 2015, Ongwen remains in the court’s custody, and his 3.5-year-trial ended in March 2020.

Ongwen’s lawyer insisted that the brutal life in the LRA affected his mental health and his capacity to make independent decisions.

“When Ongwen was abducted he had no option, he was made a slave. That slavery continued until he left the bush,” lawyer Krispus Odongo said to the judges in closing arguments.

But prosecutors countered that Ongwen was an adult at the time of the alleged offences and cannot be excused of responsibility.

Led by fugitive warlord Joseph Kony, the LRA terrorized Ugandans for nearly two decades as it battled the government of President Yoweri Museveni from bases in the north of the country and in what is now South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

The case at the ICC focused on 2002-2005, when prosecutors said members of the LRA carried out crimes including murder, rape, sexual slavery, forced marriage, torture, pillaging and the conscription of children under the age of 15 for fighting.

After being abducted by the LRA as a boy, Ongwen worked his way up to a commander, overseeing the Sinia Brigade, one of the group’s four main operational units with up to 800 fighters.

UGANDA: freedom of expression abuse

Brussels 21.01.2021 The European Union is calling for Ugandan officials to lift bans on social media networks imposed in the context of the highly disputed elections. Previously the EU condemned the action by the government to shut down internet which had violated the Ugandan citizens and observers right to expression and information.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni announced that the government had shut down social media. On January 9, Facebook deleted dozens of pro-Ugandan government accounts, saying they were “fake.” Museveni characterized Facebook’s action as arrogant. (Image: spokesperson of the European Commission).

Uganda: Declaration by the High Representative Josep Borrell on behalf of the European Union on the elections
The European Union (EU) takes note of the results of the presidential elections declared by the Electoral Commission in Uganda:

“The EU welcomes that no major violent incidents were reported on election day but regrets that the disproportionate role given to security forces during the elections brought forth violence in the pre-electoral period, harassment of opposition leaders, suppression of civil society actors and media, and the raiding of a domestic observers office. Access to social media was disturbed, and a full internet blackout disrupted freedom of expression, freedom of information, and regular economic and social activities. In particular, this severely hampered the work of journalists, observers, party agents and others expected to report on the polling results and scrutinise them.

The EU calls on the Government of Uganda to respect the freedom of expression and the right to peaceful and safe assembly, including the free movement of all political actors and their supporters. The EU is gravely concerned by the continued harassment of political actors and parts of civil society. In line with its laws, international commitments and obligations, the Government must ensure that security services act with restraint, that any violations or abuses are duly and impartially investigated, and that those responsible are held to account.

Pending the final results of the electoral process including the parliamentary and local elections, the EU calls on all parties to refrain from any form of violence as well as from statements and actions that may incite violence, and for election challenges and complaints to be addressed in an independent and transparent manner through the available constitutional and legal remedies”.

Ugandan opposition candidate arrested

Ugandan presidential candidate and pop star, Bobi Wine, who is seeking to replace long-ruling President Yoweri Museveni, was arrested on Wednesday while campaigning in the east of the country, he said on Twitter.

In two tweets, Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, said police had violently broken into his vehicle and taken him into custody. Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The price of freedom is high but we shall certainly overcome,” Wine, 38, said in one of the tweets.

A local independent newspaper, Daily Monitor, reported demonstrators had erected barricades and lit fires on some roads in the capital Kampala and at least one other town to protest against Wine’s arrest.
Since expressing his intention to run against Museveni, Wine has won a large following, especially among young people in the east African country.

The young generation supporters explain they are drawn to him by his criticism of Museveni’s government mingled in his lyrics. Others say that as a young leader he is better positioned to tackle the challenges they face.

Uganda: EU declines Observaton mission

The European Union will not deploy an observer mission for Uganda’s presidential election in January, an official said on Monday, November 16, after complaints that advice from previous observers to make the polls fair went unheeded.

In the January 14 vote, President Yoweri Museveni, 76, will face off against a dynamic pop star and lawmaker Robert Kyagulanyi, widely known by his music moniker Bobi Wine and who is seen as the incumbent president’s closest competitor. In the same election, voters will also pick the members of the parliament.

“An EOM (election observer mission) will not be present in Uganda in 2021,” Attilio Pacifici, EU ambassador and head of delegation to Uganda, confirmed to Reuters News agency in an email.

The diplomat aid in taking a decision not to send observers, the EU had considered whether Uganda had “made progress on recommendations provided by previous EU electoral missions.”

The EU usually sends a large team to monitor the elections, last time 94 observers, and they have stayed in the country sometimes for up to three months.

According to an EU 2018 report, none of the 30 recommendations made by the observer mission sent to monitor the last election in 2016 was implemented.

The recommendations included reforms to make the poll body more independent, elimination of excessive use of force by the armed forces and more transparency in tallying.

Uganda: 11 years in jail for killing gorilla

A poacher has been jailed for 11 years after he confessed to killing a rare mounteen silverback gorilla in Uganda last month.

The gorilla, named Rafiki, which means “friend” in Swahili — was part of the famed Nkuringo gorilla group that lives in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and is a legend among tourists across the world.

Rafiki was reported missing on June 1 and his mutilated body was found the next day inside the park.

A postmortem report revealed that Rafiki was injured by a sharp device to his abdomen and internal organs.

The poacher Byamukama Felix was arrested a few days later with bush pig meat and several hunting devices in his possession, authorities said.

Byamukama pleaded guilty to several charges, including killing a gorilla, entering a protected area and being in possession of illegal meat.
The convicted told authorities he killed Rafiki in self-defense when he went with a group to hunt in the park and they came across the group of gorillas. The silverback charged and he speared it, he said.

Three other men who were arrested with Felix remain in custody awaiting trial as they have pleaded not guilty.

EU €24M aid to Uganda

The EU will provide €24 million in humanitarian assistance for the most vulnerable people in Uganda in 2020, with a special focus on refugees and their host communities. In addition, the EU has also channelled €1 million to aid organisations in Uganda to support the coronavirus preparedness and control measures, in line with the national response plan to the pandemic.

“EU humanitarian support in Uganda is making a difference to the lives of many refugees who have fled South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. EU aid will provide food and health assistance, access to water and sanitation, as well as education programmes. We remain committed to continuing our support in Uganda, all the more so in these challenging times” said Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič.

EU-funded humanitarian projects in Uganda are also adapting to the new challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. For example, EU funded radio talk shows are raising awareness about the coronavirus and other key issues, such as child protection. Other humanitarian projects provide access to health care and in epidemics control and prevention. EU support has also helped more than 20,000 children benefit from education programmes.

EU humanitarian support in Uganda goes hand in hand with longer-term development strategies to find durable solutions and support the self-reliance of refugees and their inclusion in social protection schemes.

Uganda hosts 1.4 million refugees, one of the largest refugee populations in Africa. The country applies a progressive refugee policy, which is, however, under increasing pressure due to the scale of the crisis, and overstretched services. EU humanitarian funding is helping to address the immediate life-saving needs of refugees and host communities in line with the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework as implemented in Uganda.

COVID19: EU supports Africa women

European Commission among the other prominent international players has been alarmed by the rising levels of violence against women and girls, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic confinement measures but also following the social-economic stress and insecurity that many families have to face.

In sub-Saharan Africa women are disproportionally more exposed to both health and economic risks, and this is linked to their roles and responsibilities in their communities or society as a whole. Unfortunately, according to available statistics the threat of child marriage is also greater when communities are affected by shocks like disease outbreak, when all the referral systems to prevent and respond to gender-based violence may underperform.

Responding to the significance attributed by the EU to gender equality and women and girls empowerment, including Africa, the European Commission currently invests in around 40 ongoing projects targeting or contributing to the elimination of violence against women and girls on the African continent amounting to approximately €310 million. The most significant one for a total amount of €250 million is the Spotlight Initiative (Africa envelope), – the largest global programme to eliminate violence against women and girls, with an initial investment of €500 million, launched in September 2017. The Initiative aims at eliminating all forms of VAWG in partner countries from five regions: Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Caribbean and Pacific.

In Sub Saharan Africa the objective is to prevent, combat and prosecute sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls, including the elimination of harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation. The programme is implemented in eight African countries (Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe) for a total amount of €220 million.

The African regional programme complements eight countries programmes with a substantive allocation of €30 million. An allocation of 10% of the overall Africa investment budget supports the women’s movement which is implemented by two existing UN Trust Funds (the UN Women Peace and Humanitarian Fund, and the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women and Girls).

According to the EU officials, following the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the Commission is adapting and refocusing the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to identify risk factors related to pandemic context and to respond to critical needs. Efforts are currently focussing on ensuring swift action to counter increased domestic violence, boost prevention, support survivors and support civil society organisations.

The EU supports the scale-up of existing hotlines, shelters and equipping health, police, justice and social protection sectors for women and girls. One good example is Mozambique, where Spotlight Initiative funding is being used to strengthen the preparedness of staff working in health centres and shelters to better assist victims. Protective gear and hygiene material is being supplied in these centres and shelters. Spotlight also supports police in better responding to violence cases by providing transport and mobile phones.

Other projects are mainly implemented by Civil Society Organisations (NGO). The EU contribution to these projects is close to €60 million, and they are implemented across the African continent.

The inclusion of the prevention of and response to gender-based violence, and is aligned to COVID-19 national prevention and containment measures, is the EU ongoing mission, for example, in Uganda, a consortium led by CARE Denmark, in partnership with other three international and four national NGOs, working on empowerment, accountability and leadership for refugees and host communities, will continue to provide prevention and response services to survivors of gender-based violence and work on other protection issues.

Experiences of past epidemics lead to conclusion that intimate partner violence and sexual exploitation and abuse increase during these periods. Based on this knowledge CARE and partners have adapted the assistance: case management will be provided remotely, while social workers stationed at the health facilities will support gender-based violence screening. For high risk cases, face-to-face interactions will continue, while maintaining social distancing and hand hygiene precautions. The EU’s humanitarian contribution to this action is €2.3 million. In 2019, it is estimated that the EU allocated approximately €26 million of its humanitarian aid budget to the prevention and response to gender-based violence worldwide.

Most EU-funded projects to eliminate violence against women and girls are implemented in partnership with the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) or with international organisations. When the European Commission works with international organisations, the European civil servants also often work with CSOs. For the Spotlight Initiative it is foreseen that at country level, 30-50% should be delivered through CSOs. CSOs also play a crucial role in the design and the governance of the Spotlight Initiative, at national, regional and global level.

Following the COVID crisis, the EU is also providing flexible support to women’s organisations and grassroots organisations, including the much needed core funding. In this context, the EU in close collaboration with the UN is re-directing around €15 million to support and ensure business continuity of CSOs and mitigate challenges and risks linked to the COVID-19 crisis through two above mentioned UN Trust Funds. In the short term, the funds support activités to counter the increase of domestic violence under COVID-19 crisis, prevention, support to survivors, including Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), and help provide a lifeline to women’s organisations, CSOs working on gender-based violence related issues.

The Commission adopted its Communication on a global response to COVID-19 in April 2020. This “Team Europe” response is a joint effort between the European Union, its member states and European financial institutions to mobilise resources to support partner countries’ efforts in tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

In order to ensure a comprehensive response, the EU’s response includes both urgent, short-term emergency measures, and more medium to long-term measures such as research and health systems strengthening (right to health), and mitigating the economic and social impact.

The response also includes social protection actions, addressing all inequalities and non-discrimination and promotion of human rights. The Communication recalls the importance “to promote and uphold good governance, human rights, the rule of law, gender equality and non-discrimination, decent work conditions, as well as fundamental values and humanitarian principles”.

Uganda: lockdown clashes

Uganda has banned all public transport for two weeks in accordance with decision of the President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, explaining the measure is needed to curb the spread of coronavirus pandemic, which has so produced 14 established cases of contamination there. The measure is complementary to the insturction to stay home from 22 March.

However there are reports of police chaisng street vendors in Kampala unwilling to stope trade after the public were called to stay home for 32 days starting March 22 to curb the spread of coronavirus epidemic.

There are videos shared via social media, showing police dispercing the crowds unwilling to respect the imposed lockdown.

Uganda LGBTI: MEPs express deep concern

MEPs express their deep concern at the possible resurgence of the anti-homosexuality law in the Ugandan political debate, which would, if introduced, include the death penalty for “aggravated acts of homosexuality”.

They take note of the statement made by Ugandan President Museveni’s spokesperson denying that the government has any intention to propose such a new bill, and call on the Ugandan government to stand by this statement .

The European Parliament regrets emphatically the use of the death penalty under any circumstances and reminds the Ugandan government of its obligations under international law and the Cotonou Agreement, which calls for universal human rights to be respected. MEPs also call on the EU delegation in the country to continue to monitor the situation for LGBTI people closely and to actively support civil society organisations and human rights defenders on the ground. The resolution was adopted by 521 votes in favour, 4 against and 110 abstentions and will be available here (24.10.2019).

Ebola patient passed away in Uganda

The nine-year-old girl  from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), , who was tested positive this week for the Ebola virus in Uganda, died on August 30 morning. (Image: illustration).

“She died around 8 AM this morning,Yusuf Baseka, director of health services for Kasese District, southwestern Uganda told AFP. The child was in isolation in a health center in Bwera, in the same district of Kasese. The body of the girl “is being repatriated” in the DRC, with his mother who accompanied her daughter’s  remains, he said.

“I want to reassure all Ugandans and non-Ugandans that we have the full capacity to control Ebola. Stay calm and vigilant,” tweeted Ugandan Minister of Health Jane Ruth Aceng before the announcement of the girl’s death. She is the fourth person diagnosed with Ebola in Uganda to die.

In June, three family members diagnosed in Uganda, after contracting the disease in the DRC, died. Two died on Ugandan soil and the third in the DRC after being repatriated. In late July, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Uganda free from Ebola, with no other cases reported in the meantime.

The contaminated girl arrived at the Mpondwe crossing point on the DRC-Uganda border this week to seek medical help in Bwera, according to the Ugandan Ministry of Health. In Mpondwe, where Uganda has sanitary controls in place, medical teams have noted that Ebola-like symptoms include fever, generalized weakness, rash and unexplained blood loss in the mouth. , according to the same source.

Blood tests confirmed that she was “Ebola positive“. The Ministry pointed out that since it had been controlled at the border, it had not come into contact with anyone in Uganda.

Ebola hemorrhagic fever, highly contagious, causes the death of between 25% and 90% of patients, according to the WHO. There is no commercialized treatment or vaccine, but several leads are being tested. It is spread through direct contact with blood, body secretions (sweat, stool, etc.), through sexual intercourse and through the improper handling of contaminated cadavers.

A total of 2,006 people died of Ebola in the DRC in a year, and Ugandan authorities, who fear the virus is spreading in their country, have taken strict preventive measures. Nearly 18,000 people cross the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda daily, according to Ugandan government statistics.

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