Uganda in Eastern DRC: fueling political and ethnic strife

Uganda in Eastern DRC: fueling political and ethnic strife

Consequences of military intervention between rebel factions in eastern Congo

Paper asserts that Ugandan authorities have fuelled political and ethnic strife in eastern Congo with disastrous consequences for the local population. Paper documents how Ugandan authorities intervened in rivalries among factions of the rebel Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD). Some of these quarrels degenerated into military skirmishes in which civilians have been killed and injured. The report shows how Ugandan soldiers intervened in a long-standing dispute between Hema and Lendu peoples, in many cases lending firepower to Hema, sometimes in return for payment. Uganda has pulled some of its troops out in recent weeks, but not from the areas most affected by the abuses described in the report. Paper makes seperate recommendations to the RCD-ML and FLC; the Mai-Mai, Hema and Lendu militia, and other armed groups operating in northeastern Congo; the United Nations Security Council; the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, the United Nations (U.N.), Organization of African Unity (O.A.U.), the Southern Africa Development Community (S.A.D.C.); the European Union, the United States, and other international actors; Olara Otunnu, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflicts to end the violence.

They make the following recommendations to the Ugandan government:

  • give clear instructions to Ugandan forces deployed in the Congo to provide security for the civilian population and for humanitarian workers and to comply with the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Protocol I of 1977
  • appoint an independent commission of inquiry to investigate reports of killings of civilians and execution of noncombatants by Ugandan soldiers. The Ugandan government should make public the findings of such investigations and prosecute Ugandan personnel against whom evidence emerges of responsibility for crimes in Ugandan courts. The Ugandan government should instruct UPDF forces in the DRC to cooperate with these and any other investigations into abuses against civilians. In particular:
    • conduct impartial and transparent investigations into the role of the UPDF in the Hema-Lendu conflict from its onset in mid 1999 to date
    • investigate reports that the UPDF failed to intervene in a timely manner to prevent large-scale revenge killings in Bunia on January 19, 2001 following a militia attack on UPDF positions there
    • recall to Uganda and replace the UPDF commander in Bunia and his immediate subordinates until their responsibilities in the response of the UPDF to the revenge killings are clarified
    • investigate the conduct of UPDF and rebel troops during the attack on the Mai-Mai encampment in Lubero on August 25 and 26, 2000 and prosecute those responsible for the killing of noncombatants
    • provide an immediate accounting for and allow access by the International Committee of the Red Cross to all combatants, including Mai-Mai fighters and other militia, captured by the UPDF in northeastern Congo

  • free immediately all Congolese citizens arbitrarily detained for political offences by the UPDF in the DRC and by Ugandan authorities in Uganda
  • stop the recruitment and training in the DRC or Uganda of child soldiers under the age of eighteen and demobilise, disarm, rehabilitate, and return to their homes all such children
  • sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict without reservations, and submit upon ratification, a binding declaration establishing a minimum age of at least eighteen for voluntary recruitment
  • direct the UPDF to allow full access and the neutral provision of humanitarian assistance to all needy populations in areas under its control
  • allow national and international human rights organisations, independent journalists, and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the DRC full access to investigate allegations of human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law in areas controlled by the UPDF
  • support local conflict resolution initiatives

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