KAMPALA, UGANDA: Col. Deo Karikona, the Director of Human Rights in the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces-UPDF has unveiled plans by the army to deploy divisional human rights focal persons across the country.
According to Col. Deo Karikona, the human rights focal persons will be mandated with ensuring that the troops are sensitized about different components of the Human Rights Act and the international human rights law. They will also carry the mandate of advising commanders on their role in ensuring the protection of the rights of civilians in the course of their duties.
This will entail the sensitization of junior and senior officers on their roles and responsibilities in the general elimination of human rights violations within the civilian spaces. Speaking to journalists in Jinja city on Tuesday, Karikona said that throughout the course of his deployment in this docket, he has inspected all UPDF divisions and has since appreciated the knowledge of the troops and efforts in ensuring the total observance of human rights.
Karikona argues that civilians are strategic partners in the country’s security, therefore, the army is duty bound to educate the forces on the tenets of the UPDF Act and other corresponding legislations, aimed at fostering public trust in the army.
He says that the force has developed a human rights training module focusing on both the basic and highest human rights principles to ensure that commanders and staff alike are vigilant enough to mitigate poor conduct by the soldiers, which could potentially damage UPDF’s public image.
Margret Kulaba, the chairperson of Jinja city’s NGO forum says that Uganda suffered from a troubled history, which forced civilians to team up with rebels to successfully topple the then-sitting government in the mid-1980s. She urges state actors to eliminate persistent human rights violations within the security forces so as to sustain their public trust.