UPDF officers being trained on Human Rights
By Timothy Eodu
Over 700 hundred officers from the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) from 3 infantry division have been trained on Human Rights Protection in the different UPDF detachments by the human rights facilitators, aimed at strengthening the knowledge and understanding of human rights policy and standards among UPDF personnel.
The UPDF 3 Infantry Division partnered with Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) and United Nations Human Rights (UNHR) Moroto Office to equip UPDF Frontline troops in South Karamoja with skills in human rights protection.
The ten days (15 – 25 August 2022) training was conducted in eighteen (18) selected UPDF detachments under 403 and 407 Brigades areas of responsibility covering the five districts of South Karamoja; Amudat, Moroto, Napak, Nabilatuk and Nakapiripirit. The UPDF team composed of Division Political Commissars, Public Information Officers and Civil Military Cooperation Officers.
According to Col. Francis Kateraho, 403 Brigade Operations and Training Officer (BOTO), the lessons learnt particularly on the use of relevant force shall be helpful in mitigating some of the operational misconduct and violations.
He added that the UPDF being an accountable and professional force, looks forward to working towards zero tolerance to any form of violations.
The training which is conducted on a quarterly and phased basis, is designed to foster peace and social cohesion within the community, earn credit and confidence for UPDF personnel as they uphold and promote human rights standards.
Officers being trained on Human Rights
The team leader from UNHR based in Moroto Mr. Yusuke Hara reminded participants that Human Rights are essential tools for conducting professional disarmament operations.
“Every single UPDF soldier is responsible for creating a culture of respecting human rights, Mr. Yusuke said.”
Mr. Yusuf Logiel, the National Human Rights Officer at the Moroto Field Office, urged participants to always observe and adhere to the three mandatory levels of obligation as state actors, which he enumerated as: respect, protection and fulfillment.
In her remarks, Ms. Mary Stella Acen from UHRC, encouraged troops to consider and treat women and children with special attention since they are the most vulnerable groups in conflict situations.
She cautioned troops to be proactive and good ambassadors to stamp out any form of violence. “Do not suffer in silence. Violence is not acceptable, Acen emphasized.”
The participants acquired knowledge and skills on the importance of Human Rights, Code of conduct, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) adhered to when conducting Cordon and Search operations and applicable human rights standards in case force is involved.
Other lessons included: Special consideration of children and women, consequences for failure to observe SOPs, role of media in military operations and impact of misuse of social media.
Since the disarmament exercise begun in Karamoja region, at least 83 cases of Human Rights cases have been reported against the joint security forces of the UPDF and Anti Stock Theft Unit -ASTU according to the Uganda Human Rights Commission and United Nations Human Rights Commission.