Press Release on Acholi Sub Region Special Report
The Uganda Human Rights Commission will on Friday September 28th 2012 launch a Special Report on the Peace Building Project for the former IDPs in the Acholi sub region. The function to be presided over by the Minister of Internal Affairs Hon. Hilary Onek at Bomah Hotel, Gulu marks the end of the one-year programmme which was put in to augment the resettlement exercise following the end of the 20 year- Kony war.
The 112 –page Report titled “Picking up the pieces in Acholi sub-region” presents findings by the Uganda Human Rights Commission and other civil society organizations during the implementation of the one-year (July 2011-June 2012) Peace Building project in the region.
Following the cessation of hostilities and the subsequent need for the IDPs to resettle in their homes, a Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) was designed by the government of Uganda and subsequently implemented as one of the post-war programmes.
It later emerged that that there was need for other interventions to ensure that the people of Acholi sub-region would once again live in dignity with regard to respect for their human rights, the rule of law and democratic governance.
The Peace Building Project was therefore established to supplement the government peace, recovery and development programmes in the region and subsequently, the Uganda Human Rights Commission which has been operating in the region since 1999 and a number of Civil Society Organisations were identified by the UN agencies based in Uganda (Peace Building Joint Programmes) as partners and implementers of the programme.
The project that was supported by the United Nation Peace Building Fund to the tune of Ug.Shs 1,662, 509,861 plus an additional of Ug.Shs 251,217,711 in tools and equipment enabled the organizations including the Uganda Human Rights Commission, Uganda Law Society, Norwegian Refugee Council and Human Rights Network-Uganda to strengthen capacity of service delivery on their respective mandates.
Members of the Uganda Police Force, community paralegals, LC officials, LC court officials, district administration personnel, land committees and the UHRC regional and field staff weret rained under the project to enhance their capacity to effectively perform their human rights roles. Some of the activities carried out by the various organizations during implementation of the project included community public meetings (baraza), legal advisory and support services, police training in human rights and a media campaign, among others.
The Special Report which notes that key state actors and duty bearers in human rights protection and promotion were empowered with knowledge and skills, also highlights a number of achievements made under the project.
These include the documentation of human rights standards in manuals, IEC materials, the police pocketbook; and a handbook of best practices in conducting community public sensitization meetings; the creation of community awareness about the causes of human rights abuses and violations and the available mechanisms for redress; sensitization and creation of legal awareness of the communities especially on land rights, land laws, children’s rights and issues of domestic violence and community empowerment in respect of demand for their rights.
The Report further documents training and capacity building interventions under the Project that have since facilitated the reduction of the rate of human rights abuses /violations as well as the realization of speedy access to redress and justice - leading to the restoration of trust and confidence in the formal and informal justice systems.
Furthermore, the Project is also reported to have enhanced the promotion of peace, reconciliation and alternative dispute resolution (individual, clan and community mediations) especially the rampant land disputes, by peacefully resolving disputes thereby averting potential violence and restoring broken relationships.
The Report which will in addition be presented to the parliament at a later date also makes general and specific recommendations that require urgent action from not only concerned government ministries, departments and agencies but also non-state actors and the general public especially the people in Acholi sub region.
The recommendations made, point out the need for government to promote the principle of affirmative action for the new districts in the region to enhance rehabilitation and development programmes (planning, service delivery and budgeting) specifically designed for the region.
It has also been noted that the government should address pending issues that are still keeping four IDP camps open so that the people can be effectively resettled. The report however cautions the government and other key players about the urgent need to draw a comprehensive strategy to defuse the ‘time bomb’ that has developed in the form of the escalating land disputes.
Other recommendations mentioned are;
increased remuneration for government workers in the region especially the health and education sectors as a measure to attract the necessary personnel for effective service delivery
organizing specialØ training in post-conflict management for government officials (police, teachers, and health workers) operating in post conflict regions
the need for Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to put in place a framework for reparations for the people in the sub-region so that war compensations can be paid and culpable parties can account. This is expected to achieve justice and effective reconciliation to enable healing of the wounds of the conflict.
The launching ceremony will be attended by among others the head of the Uganda Human Rights Commission Mr. Med S.K Kaggwa, the UNDP Country Representative Mr.Motlana Lebogang, the Head of Office Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Birgit Gerstenberg, officials from the Uganda Human Rights Commission and district leaders from the Northern Region.