OCTOBER 5, 2010: Karamoja Area Still Insecure - UN Report

Karamoja Area Still Insecure - UN Report

SOURCE: New Vision

By Anne Mugisa

The army and the Police have began implementing a new phase of the disarmament programme as the security situation in Karamoja remains volatile with more ambushes and cattle raids.

The UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) last week issued a report saying aggressive activities by illegally armed Karimojong were persisting.

The report, which captures the period of July to August, cited the July10 gunning down of a Kotido district official on the Kaabong-Kotido road.

It said four other people were injured in two ambushes in two days. One was on the Nakapiripirit-Moroto road and another was on the Namalu-Chepchikunya road.

The report stated that humanitarian workers were among those targeted in the ambushes and that the UN is limiting the travel hours for its vehicles along the Abim-Kotido road.

It also said amid continuing cattle raids, the UPDF had re-evaluated its strategy and announced that it would disband kraals housing more than 10,000 animals because they attract or shelter raiders

The disbandment exercise, the army said, had been launched in Moroto, Nakapiripirit, and Napak districts and would be rolled out to other districts.

The forces also launched the second phase of the disarmament exercise. Under the exercise premised on the Uganda Penal Code, rustlers using deadly weapons or causing death or grievous harm to other people would be punished with life imprisonment.

This phase is intended to restore law and order. It involves screening cattle so that animals found bearing a brand different from that of the grazing ground are confiscated. Owners of those animals will be arrested unless they show proof of purchase or certificate of ownership.

It said 172 suspects were arrested in three weeks in Kotido and Moroto districts. This, the report said, had raised concerns of delayed justice since only the High Court can try such cases yet it is not based there. It said concerns of long pre-trial detentions in military and Police facilities were also raised.

"While some suspects were later released, they complained of torture by security operatives," the report stated. But army spokesperson Felix Kulayigye denied the torture reports and criticised OCHA for unfairly criticising them.

He said the only cases of torture were those involving three soldiers who were extorting money from a civilian and they had been arrested.

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