Migyera - Nakasongora | 12 –15 September 2022: A training for 46 senior officers (3 female, 43 male) Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) opened on Monday 12 September 2022 at the School of Military Intelligence Migyera, Nakasongola District.
The four-day training jointly organized by the United Nations Human Rights Office and the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) aims at deepening the UPDF officers’ understanding and appreciation of human rights issues and their impact on military intelligence duties, conforming with the CMI vision to have professionally responsive personnel in the discharge of their constitutional roles. The training also aims at equipping the officers with knowledge and skills on human rights standards and national human rights frameworks including human rights standards relating to the UDPF – such as the standard operating procedures and the code of conduct for UPDF soldiers and human rights instruments.
In his opening remarks, the UN Human Rights Office Country Representative Mr. Robert Kotchani noted that professionalism in the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence can only be achieved if respect for human rights in carrying out intelligence duties is respected. “Failure to do so undermines both the integrity of the intelligence work conducted and has negative impact on public trust in the CMI as a vital Government institution of the State.” He added. He called on the officers to be aware that the promotion and protection of human rights are part of Uganda’s constitutional and legal framework and part of the country’s commitments at the international and regional levels, and encouraged all to “look at human rights as an indispensable tool to facilitate the pursuit of justice for all without discrimination.”
Mr. Robert Kotchani said that the reports of the Uganda Human Rights Commission had shown repeatedly that security agents are among the top violators of human rights. He said there was a need to train the security personnel because some do so out of ignorance and to ensure the culprits are held liable for their acts. He told the officers that they could only be professional in their intelligence work if they really respected human rights. If they don’t do this, it hurts the credibility of their work and the institution.
In her remarks the Chairperson Uganda Human Rights Commission Ms. Mariam Wangadya highlighted the constructive partnership with the Uganda People’s Defence Forces generally, and the Chieftaincy of military Intelligence particularly. “We acknowledge that we need each other to effectively execute our constitutional mandates for the good of Ugandans and for the betterment of our country.” She noted.
“We regard it as a gesture of patriotism to acknowledge that CMI personnel need to enhance their capacity to observe human rights, in compliance with the Constitution of the republic of Uganda. That a human rights training for CMI is demand-driven and needs-based truly signifies a fundamental change.” She saluted the leadership of the UPDF human rights structures for the foresightedness.
“Over the years, there has been a lot of positive changes in human rights observance by the UPDF.” She said. Adding that the actions or omission of the security can have a positive or a negative impact on the State’s ability to fulfill human rights. “Therefore, there is need to be mindful of the critical role of the army as individuals, and as an institution, to contribute to state compliance with human rights obligations.” She advised.
She challenged the officers on why people were being arrested just to be safe. She noted that in recent years, security personnel have detained several politicians and their supporters, claiming that they are making preventive arrests. There have also been reports of citizens being tortured by security agents, being locked up without trial, and supporters of political opposition going missing.
On his part, Brigadier General Abdul Rugumayo, the Deputy Chief of Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, expressed happiness that partners such as the UN Human Rights Office and the UHRC have come all the way to Migyera to train his officers on human rights. He said that it was a chance to learn new things and remind them of their constitutional duties and called everyone to participate actively in the activity. He however noted that, that acts of violation of human rights are about individuals, not institutions. He said that the Chieftaincy of military Intelligence doesn’t run safe houses where people are tortured and held illegally to avoid arrest.