UGANDA: Child neglect tops list of rights abuses

[20 September 2007] - Child neglect tops a list of human rights complaints in Uganda, according to the Ugandan Human Rights Commission.

"The most violated right was child neglect, representing 25 per cent of complaints registered in 2006, an increment of 77 per cent from the previous period," says the commission's report, presented by chairperson Margaret Sekaggya to the Speaker of Parliament yesterday.

In the 145-page report, the commission was concerned that child sacrifice, child trafficking, child labour, abduction, child soldiering, defilement, child prostitution and abuse were persisting in Uganda.

"Police reports reveal that there were 185 victims of child abduction, kidnap, disappearance, trafficking and sacrifice alone between January and September 2006," the report said. Most of the children trafficked internally were from Buganda region, accounting for 36 per cent, followed by Acholi (18 per cent) and Ankole (8 per cent).

The commission came up with eight recommendations, including setting up a commission of inquiry to investigate 'child sacrifice'.'


Torture was second on the list of human rights violations. Although the number of complaints registered in 2006 fell by 7.6 per cent compared to the previous year, torture still formed the bulk of cases handled by the commission, while 71 per cent of the awards made by the tribunal in 2006 were for torture victims, Sekaggya noted.

She urged the Ugandan Parliament to enact a law prohibiting torture and the Government to ratify the Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture.

The Human Rights Commission also criticised the fact that civilians and children were being detained in military detention facilities.

The civilians were usually brought in by the Violent crime Crack Unit (VCCU) and the Rapid Response Unit. Although the staff discipline and the relationship with inmates had improved, reducing the incidences of torture, the report noted that degrading treatment still existed.

"Some VCCU suspects in Makindye (military barracks) were found to be suffering from a Sexually Transmitted Infection that was eating away their genitals but were receiving no treatment," the commission stated.

Detention without trial

Moreover, suspects were being detained for long periods without trial. A total of 28 detainees at Makindye had no charges against them at the time of the commission's visit and some suspects had been detained without trial for over three years, the report said. It recommended that Court Martials convene regularly and frequently to dispose of cases.

The report will be scrutinised by the parliamentary committee on legal and parliamentary affairs.

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