As part of the professionalization journey that the Uganda Peoples Defense Force (UPDF) is progressively undertaking, Human rights actors want the Force to scale up its commitment in upholding and defending human rights.
Both the United Nations and the Uganda Human Rights Commission have asked the UPDF intelligence arm under the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) to play a lead role in respecting human rights as a Constitutional mandate in line with their duty as intelligence officers of the UPDF.
The UN human rights office in collaboration with the Uganda Human Rights Commission has had several engagements and training for the CMI officers and continues to offer advisory services in the field of human rights to the government institutions in a holistic manner. The promotion and protection of human rights are part of Uganda’s Constitutional legal framework.
“You are all urged to look at human rights as an indispensable tool to facilitate justice,” UN Country Representative in Uganda, Mr Robert Ayeda Kotchan said.
“Professionalism in the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence can only be achieved if you truly respect human rights in carrying out your intelligence duties. Failure to do so undermines both the integrity of intelligence and work you do,” he said at the launch of a 4-day human rights training for 40 UPDF intelligence officers at the School of Military Intelligence in Migyera, Nakasongola District on September 12, 2022.
Ms Mariam Wangadya said Uganda Human Rights Commission which she heads enjoys a cordial relationship with the UPDF with the training deemed necessary and demand-driven based on the past history of Uganda.
The Constitution that mandates UHRC to protect and observe human rights is the same Constitution that mandates the UPDF to observe human rights.
“UHRC has had several allegations about human rights violations with incidents that have been investigated and found to be true. We hope that the training will empower the officers to do more in protecting human rights. We have had incidents where UHRC has issued orders regarding human rights violations and are defied. Ignoring our orders is unconstitutional and undermines the human rights that are supposed to be upheld. The issue of preventive arrest should always be clearly explained to the victims,” she said.
According to her, human rights are entitlements with the UPDF keen at ensuring that its officers take caution and respect human rights as enshrined in the constitution.
“We are already registering dividends from the different training. Uganda has had a past history of human rights violations that the UPDF has steadily corrected when it captured power. We welcome the cautious knowledge for all our officers. The training is very important. Unlike the old days when we used to hide behind the Office of the Attorney General, now individuals that commit rights abuses are held responsible,” the Deputy Chief of Military Intelligence Brig Abdul Rugumayo said.