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UPDF Compensates Victims of Disarmament

Col. John Paul Ssonko, the Principal Legal Officer in the Ministry of Defense and Veteran Affairs, says they are committed to ensuring that all complaints against the UPDF especially in Karamoja are handled.
Torture Survivors pose for the photo with UPDF team and UHRC staff in Moroto.

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Uganda Peoples' Defense Forces- UPDF has finally started compensating the victims of disarmament in Karamoja sub region.

The development follows pursuit by the Uganda Human Rights Commission- UHRC against UPDF over cases of human rights violations by soldiers during the disarmament process in Karamoja that commenced in 2001. 

During the disarmament process that saw more than 30,000 guns recovered from Karamoja, a number of people lost lives, property and opportunities to work and live a decent life.

Ida Nakiganda, the Director Complaints, Investigations and Legal Services at UHRC, says the Commission has been investigating some of the human rights violations in the region and compiled several cases against the army.

She notes that among the several cases compiled, 33 cases including physical torture and murder were picked by the UPDF leadership for mediation. She, however, observed that only 22 cases were handled by the Commission since others were beyond their jurisdiction. 

Nakiganda explained some of the cases could not proceed because both the complainants and their witnesses failed to turn up. Now, five people including one man have received compensation worth Shillings 37 million from UPDF.

 

The group that includes Rita Lokoro and Lucia Naduk from Kotido district received Shillings 7 million each while Magdalen Ikonga from Kaabong received Shillings 6.7 million. Others are Maria Abur from Kaabong with Shillings 15 million and Simon Loyangan, 1.5 million Shillings. The violations were committed between 2008 and 2010.

Abur, who received the highest pay, lost her son, Lokawa in 2010 when soldiers who were tracking stolen animals shot him dead. The others were tortured by soldiers including Ikonga who got a miscarriage after torture at the hands of armed men tracing for cattle thieves and illegal guns.

Col. John Paul Ssonko, the Principal Legal Officer in the Ministry of Defense and Veteran Affairs, says they are committed to ensuring that all complaints against the UPDF especially in Karamoja are handled. Ssonko explained the process took long because of the verification exercise from the ministry and the parties involved.

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Maria Abur, one of the beneficiaries urged government to ensure that illegal arms don't return into the hands of the locals in Karamoja.

"Am happy that government has been able to remember us who suffered during disarmament in this region. We paid a price that now guarantees one's safety in Karamoja. I don't think I would live to this date with those guns" she said.