UGANDA NEWS BRIEFS – 27 JUNE 2008 by fionan


									UGANDA NEWS BRIEFS – 13 AUGUST 2008
*Please note that the daily news bulletin can also be accessed on the Uganda Clusters website,

Juba Peace Process/ ICC Faulty definition of war crimes hampers court operation (Afrique en Ligne) Kampala, Uganda - Lack of clarity in what constitutes war crimes is hampering operations of a war crimes court, set up to try suspected criminals behind the wanton killings, rape and abduction of children during an over two decades of insurgency in northern Uganda. The local special court was set up to by-pass indictments by International Criminal Court (ICC) on five top commanders of the vicious rebel force of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA), faced with multiple charges of abuses against humanity. Among measures agreed upon between peace-negotiating teams of the Uganda government and the LRA was to set up a war crimes court to try suspects who committed serious crimes while those of lesser offences be subjected to the traditional justice system called Mato-put. Principal Judge, Justice James Ogoola, confirmed the court's failure to commence business as scheduled this month, citing the lack of clarity on what constitutes serious crimes and the lack of modalities. "The law does not define what constitutes serious war crimes and which sanctions should be apportioned for those crimes," Justice Ogoola said, confirming the court's failure to start sitting. "It should also determine the cut-off date for those crimes. This means that there would be no retrospective application of the law. "It should also define who is a victim, given the fact that some of the perpetrators were abducted and forced to commit crimes. "The law should address who is mandated to carry out the investigations. "The law should deal with issues of witness protection so that the witnesses would not be afraid to testify," Ogoola said in a published interview in the New Vision Tuesday. The ICC insists that the top five commanders remain wanted for trial in the Hauge, if there is no alternative judicial system to ensure that justice is done. Ogoola called for the merger of the western punitive system with the traditional restorative mechanisms, aimed at achieving forgiveness as a sure way to guarantee justice. The indictments remain a sticking issue and the reason why a peace deal is yet to be signed by wanted LRA rebel leader, Joseph Kony, and Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni. According to Museveni, the special courts are a soft landing pad for wanted LRA commanders. He said they should embrace the offer for their own good and repeatedly warned the LRA leaders that they would be killed if they dared to resume fighting his government. Ogoola disclosed that there were a number of constraints, saying three judges had been appointed for the court but there was also need for support staff, literature for the court, equipment and offices. "A decision must be taken whether the court should sit in the capital Kampala, in the north where the crimes were committed, or in a neutral place.

Northern Uganda


Apac town gets clean water project (New Vision) RESIDENTS of Apac town will not longer have to worry about safe water following the launch of a sh4.9b water supply project in the area. The town has 21,430 residents, according to the authorities. The water and environment minister, Maria Mutagamba, said the project was funded by the Government and the African Development Bank under the Small Towns Water and Sanitation Project. The scheme also covers the construction of drainage, public toilets, a solid waste disposal site, an office for water department, and school sanitation facilities as well as the provision of garbage collection tucks. The minister, who presided over the commissioning last week, noted that water-borne diseases would be eliminated and more development partners would be attracted to the area. Accessibility to clean and safe water, Mutagamba said, was a human rights issue. She urged people to properly dispose of garbage, use the newly-constructed public toilets and take advantage of the affordable water to construct water-borne toilets in their homes. She said the Government’s long-term goal was to ensure 100% of the urban population accesses clean water by 2010. “Currently, 66% of the people in urban areas and about 65% in rural areas have access to safe water. All the people in rural areas must get safe water by 2015.” The bank’s country representative, Mukaila Ojelade said their support to the water sector in Uganda started in 1968 with the funding of an urban water supply and sewerage study. This was in preparation for a 20-year master plan for the development of a water supply and sewage disposal scheme in 73 urban centres in addition to Kampala and Jinja.

Sh130m set for latrines, wells (New Vision) LIRA-A sh130m project to construct pit-latrines and rehabilitate shallow wells in Omoro and Aloi subcounties has been launched. The event held on Monday at Omoro trading centre was presided over by Ibrahim Shannie Miiro, the programme coordinator of Together Alive Youth Link, one of the donors based in Mbarara district. Miiro said the project would run for a year. He added that the French government contributed sh90m, Mbarara community sh10m and the Youth Link donated sh30m. “We have constructed 10 pit latrines in schools in Omoro and rehabilitated 10 wells in the two subcounties.” Several schools were vandalised during the LRA conflict.

Kitgum displaced receive iron sheets (New Vision) THE Government has given 33,600 iron sheets to Kitgum district as part of the resettlement package for the internally displaced people (IDPs) returning to their original homes. The distribution was launched on Monday by the resident district commissioner, Alfred Omony Ogaba, who handed over 180 iron sheets to six households in Paibwor parish, Labongo-Layamo sub-county. “We are giving out 30 iron sheets to every household that already has a structure (ready for roofing). We are also verifying the applications of those who have expressed interest in getting the iron sheets,” he said. Ogaba added that 10 households per parish would get the iron sheets. People with disabilities are also set to benefit. The RDC appealed to volunteers, relatives and friends of the disabled to help them make bricks and build the houses.


Nebbi needs 300 teachers (New Vision) NEBBI is to recruit 300 more primary school teachers, the district education officer has said, reports Ayiga Ondoga. Stanislaus Ogen said they had 329 untrained teachers and the recruits will replace them. “Out of the 2,196 trained teachers we need, we have 75% but we shall recruit to bridge the gap currently occupied by the untrained ones,” he explained. “We also need more teachers’ houses in schools. The Dutch government helped us by building 240 houses in 40 schools.” two per sub-county during their three- year programme in the district.”

Karamoja/ Eastern Uganda 3 disappear in Karamoja death trap (Daily Monitor) A Dyna truck registration number UAJ 216 carrying businessmen and women traveling to Kaceri cattle market in Kaabong District was last Saturday morning washed away at Dopeth River on Kotido-Abim Road. Three people have drowned while others were rescued and are nursing injuries at Kotido main Hospital. “The driver underestimated the depth of the river,” Kotido district LC5 chairperson Paul Lomanio said. “He attempted to cross but was washed away.” He said a rescue team from the district headquarters and the government hospital in Kotido rushed to the scene but could not recover drowned bodies. Mr Lomanio said heavy rains in Karamoja this month have increasingly become a nightmare making it difficult to travel by road in the region. Last year around the same time, another truck carrying cattle traders was washed away at the same spot killing seven people. “The river is one of the death spots during rainy season,” Mr Lomanio said. “Transport by road is always a nightmare in Karamoja during heavy rains and we are appealing to motorists to not to drive through such rivers.” In 1998, the low-lying bridges in Karamoja claimed the lives of two Daily Monitor journalists, Richard Tebere and Rashid Mudin who died in a car accident.

Govt resumes payment of Arrow boys (Daily Monitor) The contentious payment of Arrow Group militias in Teso has resumed ahead of President Yoweri Museveni’s tour of the region this week. Some 3,747 members of the Arrow Group had not received their pay in the last exercise conducted late in the year that has since led to the arrest of 10 senior officers of the Uganda People’s Defence Force. The exercise was meant to reward volunteers who fought alongside the UPDF in 2003 to stop activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels from spreading in Teso. State Minister for Disaster Preparedness Musa Ecweru said funds amounting to over Shs500million had been swindled by a section of UPDF pay officers. “Misappropriation of funds has been investigated following numerous complaints from some of the beneficiaries,” Mr Ecweru said while addressing journalists in Soroti on Sunday.


A re-verification conducted by Col Dick Olum exposed various anomalies in the payment exercise that included use of non-existent names on the pay roll. Mr Ecweru said the government has also accepted to pay a token compensation for 241 militias who died during the war and after.

Health & HIV/AIDS Hepatitis E death toll rises to 106 (Daily Monitor) The death toll from hepatitis E in northern Uganda has risen to 106 a week after the government and the World Health Organisation launched a Shs10 billion programme to bring the epidemic to an end. Another 6,563 remain infected with the deadly viral disease, which broke out in northern Uganda late last year. Nine people have died over the last week bringing the death toll to 25 since July 17. The WHO that has been supporting the district’s Hepatitis E task force, in its recent statements, said there is a drastic decline in the infection rate in Kitgum, a report the authorities in the district dispute. Authorities there say the district remains the worst-hit and the disease, which is spread by poor hygiene, has claimed 50 lives in Madi Opei Sub-county, Lamwo County, where the outbreak was first reported. The Director for Clinical Health Services in the Ministry of Health, Dr Kenya Mugisha said the death toll now stands at 106. “The cases of deaths and new infections are almost half of what we have been registering in the past and the situation is getting much better because of increased awareness, distribution of clean containers for water collection and storage and other supplies, construction of more pit latrines among other interventions,” he said. Kitgum Chairman Komakech John Ogwok told journalists yesterday that the continued spread of hepatitis has forced the council to enact bylaws aimed at controlling the disease. Some of them include; banning the use of water pots and drinking kwete, a local fermented drink believed to be a prime means of transmission. Hepatitis E is an acute viral disease that can cause liver failure. The virus is transmitted to humans through consumption of drink or food contaminated with faecal matter. It can kill within a week if not controlled in time. The disease first struck Kitgum in October 2007, but has since spread to Gulu, Pader and Yumbe districts. Mr Ogwok, who is also the chairperson of the district Hepatitis Task Force, claimed jerricans and chlorine provided under the government/WHO emergency programme have not helped to check the spread of the disease. The health worker-turned-politician also dismissed claims in the area that the disease can spread through sexual intercourse. “This disease has nothing to do with any one’s sexual life,” he said. “Having sex with an infected person does not lead to infection of the other person. It is a misconception by many people out there.” He warned that those who resort to local herbs instead of going to health centres for treatment risk succumbing to the disease. The Ministry of Health recently allocated Shs25 million to support sensitisation programmes in the district but the money has not been sent to date, according to officials. Meanwhile, the Deputy RDC, Mr Sylvester Opira, said efforts were under way to arrest and prosecute residents who have refused to construct latrines in their homes.


“We are pleased that with the district-wide mobilisation carried out to fight the disease, a good number of homes now have latrines though a few others are still hesitant to have them. We shall soon start working on them,” said Mr Opira. Agoro border market, one of the busiest markets at the Uganda-Southern Sudan border was closed recently due to lack of latrines as a way of combating Hepatitis E in the area. Uganda has recently been hit by a string of epidemics including; ebola, meningitis, cholera, bubonic plague in West Nile and yellow fever. A rare strain of cholera ravaged eastern Uganda in June, killing 28 of the 350 people who were infected.

Uganda records the highest cases of river blindness in Africa (Afrique en Ligne) Kampala, Uganda - With a total of 1.5 million people infected, Uganda rec ords the highest indices of river blindness out of the 30 African countries plagued by the disease that destroys the sight and skin of its victims, health authorities said here Monday. The disease, scientifically called onchocerciasis, a disease whose vector, the b lack fly, breeds in fastflowing rivers is prevalent in 27 districts in the country, along the porous borders of the landlocked East African country. The endemic districts are Mbale, Manafwa, Sironko, and Bududa in eastern Uganda bordering Kenya; Gulu, Amuru, Oyam, Moyo, Adjumani, Nebbi, Arua, Yumbe and Maracha-Terego districts in northern Uganda bordering South Sudan. While in the western region they include Kasese, Kamwenge, Ibanda, Bushenyi, Kabale, Kisoro, Kanungu, Buliisa, Masindi, Hoima, Kyenjojo, Kabarole and Kibaale bordering restive DR Congo and Rwanda. But according to Dr. Richard Ndyomugyenyi, the National Coordinator of the Onchocerciasis control programme, the disease is on the decline, saying the 1.5 million people represent a drop of less than 5 per cent of those infected in the endemic areas. "In the early 1990s, the infection rate stood at about 70 per cent of the people in the endemic districts. The decline is a result of the health ministry intensifying control activities, elimination of vectors and treating the victims twice a year," said Ndyomugyenyi in an interview on the outskirts of an ongoing Uganda onchocerciasis elimination committee meeting aimed at evaluating efforts to eradicate the disease in the country. "The treatment programme means that a victim would have to seek further treatment after about six years, compared to between 15 and 20 years if the treatment was once a year," He explains, adding "the disease is controlled with Ivermectin drug." The infectious fly, Ndyomugyenyi said, had been eliminated in some of the areas, adding that the ministry hopes to eliminate it totally from Uganda in seven years.

Govt seeks sh160b for health sector (New Vision) THE Government is seeking a $100m (about sh160b) loan from the World Bank to support the heath sector. Finance minister Ezra Suruma told the NRM Parliamentary Caucus on Monday that the biggest portion of the money would be used to improve maternal and infant health services. According to the caucus treasurer, David Bahati, Suruma made the remarks while responding to concerns raised by MPs about the status of maternal mortality rate.


Debating a government loan request to borrow $23m for the public service enhancement programme last week, Ntenjeru North MP Sarah Nyombi (NRM) was concerned about Uganda’s high maternal mortality rate. She suggested that the Government should secure a loan to address the matter. Fifteen pregnant women die everyday in Uganda, which translates into a maternal mortality rate of 435 per 100,000 live births per year, Nyombi added. Parliament last week refused to approve the $23m loan request but the NRM MPs reconsidered the matter, Bahati said. He said public service state minister Sezi Mbaguta, Suruma and the Prime Minister, Prof. Apolo Nsibambi, explained to them the importance of the project. “After further explanations, we agreed to support the loan request,” said Bahati.

Ugandan-made ARVs go on sale (New Vision) THE first Ugandan-made Anti-Retroviral (ARV) drugs are now on sale in the country. Emmanuel Katongole, the chief executive of Quality Chemical Industries, a pharmaceutical company manufacturing the drug, said yesterday the Luzira-based factory produces 60 million tablets everyday. “In Uganda, there are about 300,000 HIV/AIDS patients who require ARVS. The 60 million tablets we make everyday is a good beginning,” he observed, adding that they had capacity to expand production very soon. Meeting about 20 permanent secretaries of various ministries at the plant, Katongole said the tablets were being sold to accredited centers. “The Government is the biggest client. We also sell to several charity organisations which deal in HIV/AIDS. A dose costs $8 (about sh12,800),” he told The New Vision on phone. The plant, which President Yoweri Museveni launched early this year, has been licensed by the National Drug Authority. “Officials from the World Health Organisation inspected our premises. They said they were impressed but are yet to grant us their licence,” marketing director George Baguma added. He explained that the company had put in place several safety measures to guarantee quality. “For any tablet we sell, we store a sample and use it to examine the drug’s quality basing on the feedback we get from our clients.” Quality Chemical Industries is the first factory in Africa to produce ARVs. It works in collaboration with CIPLA, the leading ARV-drug producers based in India. Katongole said expatriates were training local pharmacists to take over production after five years. “We shall employ about 600 when the company takes off fully.” He complained about the unreliable electricity, saying it costs the company a lot of money. “Whenever power goes off, we spend sh5m per hour to run the plant using generators.”

Rule of Law House starts probe into Police conduct (New Vision) KAMPALA Woman MP Nabilah Naggayi Ssempala (FDC) yesterday shed tears as she narrated the incident in which the Police arrested her from St. Balikuddembe (Owino) Market.


She was appearing before the parliamentary select committee investigating the conduct of the Police Nabilah was arrested on June 10 for allegedly holding an illegal rally. But she claimed she was distributing suggestion boxes to her constituents. She submitted a compact disc containing the fracas to the committee. Nabilah claimed that her blouse and skirt were torn during the arrest. “At the time I was arrested, I prayed to God to be taken to a nearby place because my skirt was torn. I was worried of reaching the cells without my knickers,” she said before bursting into tears. When the committee headed by Peter Nyombi (Independent), played the disk Nabilah had submitted, MPs and Police officers were moved by the manner in which she was handled. “Eeee---that is horrible!” Sarah Mpabwa (NRM) said. The compact disc showed three female Special Police Constables (SPCs) pulling Nabilah’s skirt downward as another male officer pulled it from behind. At the same time, another female SPC was forcing her to sit down. According to Nabilah, the Police striped her naked deliberately. “It was an intentional act by the the female SPCs to humiliate me. “God forbid, if I had not held my skirt tightly, I would have made headlines in newspapers.” She said prior to her arrest, an anonymous person called her and advised her to wear a jean trousers during rallies in the city. Nabilah added that while at the Old Kampala Police station, she was pushed onto a metallic box and she sustained injuries on her back. She denied claims by the internal affairs minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, that she hit a Police officer with a microphone during the scuffle. Baker Kizito, another witness, told MPs that he saw Police officers harassing Nabilah. When MPs paraded officers from Old Kampala Police Station, he singled one only identified as Steven, saying he was the most notorious during the arrest. He is attached to Owino Police post. Parliament set up the committee after MPs Nabilah, Suzan Nampijja (Conservative Party) and Sam Lyomoki (NRM) were allegedly harassed by the Police during their arrests this year.

Fugitive soldier held over murder of seven (New Vision) A SOLDIER who disappeared after allegedly killing seven people has been arrested. Pte. Bono-Bono Africano Lino, who belonged to the 93rd battalion, allegedly murdered his wife, mother in-law and a three-month- old baby at Laguti internally displaced peoples’ camp in Pader district on October 26, 2006. Lino was arrested last week by security operatives, who found him with an amnesty certificate and a fake document, describing him as a former LRA rebel fighter. “After the gruesome murders, he went into hiding and later reported to World Vision in Apac district, claiming he was a rebel,” Capt. Deo Akiiki, the 5th Division spokesman, said on Monday. He added that Lino was given the benefits of a former rebel and later World Vision transferred him to their branch in Gulu, where he received the amnesty certificate. Akiiki said Lino, who is in detention, would be charged with seven counts of murder, impersonation and desertion in the 5th Division court martial to sit at the headquarters in Pader.


Meanwhile, the division court martial was due to convene yesterday in Omiya-Anyima IDP camp in Kitgum district to resume hearing of a murder case against a Local Defence Unit soldier. About a month ago, Kenneth Opwonya, a civilian and two Special Police Constables were allegedly involved in the killing of six people and injuring 11 others in a disco hall near the camp.

Muhwezi, Mukula GAVI trial next month (New Vision) THE Buganda Road Chief Magistrates’ Court set September 5 for the resumption of the trial of former health minister Jim Muhwezi and his deputies Mike Mukula and Alex Kamugisha. The three are accused of misappropriating sh1.6b donor funds from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation. They are charged together with former State House aide Alice Kaboyo. In her ruling, magistrate Margaret Tibulya said the case had been suspended because the Principal Judge had requested for a temporary stay to enable him iron out administrative issues. “Since the stay sought for by the Principal Judge was granted, and it is now eight months, there is no basis on which I can refuse the application for a hearing date,” she ruled. Mukula, who was present in court, said he was happy with the resumption of the trial. “I am happy with the due process of the law. I have always insisted that I am innocent. I would like justice to take its course.” Muhwezi could not be reached for comment as he was reportedly sitting for his final examinations at the Law Development Centre, where he is pursuing a diploma in legal practice, while Kamugisha was reported to be sick. As Tibulya fixed the date to resume the case, the High Court set another date to hear a petition filed by the accused challenging their trial. In the petition, filed in October 2007, the three said their trial by Tibulya would be unfair because she is related to the IGG, Faith Mwondha, whose office if prosecuting them. They also challenged the powers of the IGG. “As the court is presently constituted, the investigator, the prosecutor and the magistrate are essentially the same. Justice from this court cannot be done or seen to be done,” Muhwezi and his copetitioners argued. Justice Augustus Kania, the new judge presiding over the case, yesterday set September 15 for the hearing of the petition. But the lawyers of the accused protested that their clients were being tried in two courts at the same time. “The petitioners are not in this court because they are also appearing at Buganda Road Court. They cannot appear in two courts at the same time. If the matter is to be handled concurrently in both courts, it would be injustice to them,” said Muhwezi’s lawyer Peter Kabatsi. He asked the judge to stop Tibulya from proceeding with the case until the petition had been disposed of, which was rejected.

Kania took over the case from Justice Opio Aweri, who stepped down last year following objections by the IGG that he had not handled the matter according to the law. Although Ogoola overruled the IGG’s objections, he at the time promised to appoint a new judge. Who is Kania? Justice Augustus Kania was appointed a High Court Judge in 1995. He served in Mbale from 1996 to 2001 before he was transferred to Gulu, where he headed the High Court up to 2005. He was later transferred to Arua High Court where he served up to his transferal to Kampala this month.


Regional Uganda to host small arms meeting (New Vision) A summit to discuss ways to combat the proliferation of small arms and light weapons will he held in Kampala this month. The meeting that will bring together security chiefs from the Great Lakes Region will run from August 17 to 22. It is organised by the African Centre for Strategic Studies. “Not only do these weapons prolong violent conflicts, but their uncontrolled spread also poses grave danger to long-term stability and development, both domestically ad within the region as a whole,” Tina Turyagenda, the information assistant at the US embassy, said in a statement. This is the second in a series of five sub-regional workshops.


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