Situation of petitioners from Apaa at OHCHR’s Gulu compound

On 11 July 2018, a group of 234 people (including 32 children) from Apaa village, Northern Uganda entered the field office of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Gulu, Northern Uganda, after asking to hand over a petition. OHCHR had no prior knowledge of this action, nor of the petitioners’ intent to set up camp at the premises. The petitioners are demanding that their grievances related to forced evictions and other alleged human rights violations are acted on by national authorities.

The concerns of the Apaa community were transmitted, through the UN Resident Coordinator, to the highest level of authority of State, who are seized with the matter and have conveyed the designation of a senior Government representative to interact with the affected people.

OHCHR welcomes that a Government representative has been designated to travel to the region in the coming days to engage with the group, and are hopeful that such engagement will allow the Government to work towards finding a long-term solution for the Apaa community and other stakeholders in the area.

OHCHR welcomes the involvement of cultural and religious leaders to assist in identifying immediate relief measures and in contributing to long-term solutions.

As the petitioners have used a peaceful stance, OHCHR has accepted that the group temporarily stay at the premises, but has repeatedly asked that they leave voluntarily. OHCHR has informed the petitioners and the Government that its office compound is not suited to host the group and provide for their basic needs.

OHCHR appreciates that the law enforcement agencies on site have assisted in managing the situation in line with human rights principles.

As part of its efforts to support solutions, OHCHR has expressed its view to all relevant stakeholders that the situation of Apaa should be resolved through dialogue, without resorting to the use of force, including in connection to vacating the OHCHR premises.

As part of the UN System in Uganda, OHCHR stands ready to support the Uganda Human Rights Commission and relevant State authorities in their efforts to find sustainable solutions for this situation and to address the grievances of the Apaa community in a prompt, effective and dignified manner, in line with relevant international human rights standards.