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Amnesty Accuses Northern Ugandan Authorities of Failing Women  


A report by Amnesty International alleges the justice system in northern Uganda ignores, denies and tacitly condones violence against women and girls, including rape, and protects suspected perpetrators. From London Tendai Maphosa has more in this report for VOA.

The Amnesty International report says that women in Northern Uganda suffer rape and gender-based violence at the hands of state officials, including the army. Family members and others in the community, it says, also victimize the women.

The report says the northern Ugandan women often face what it described as "insurmountable difficulties" in trying to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice. According to the report, some are afraid to report rape and other forms of violence, because of intimidation, hostility and ridicule from the community, as well as inaction by authorities.

The report notes a lack of police officers to report cases to and when police are available, it alleges, they are not sensitive to the rights of victims. Amnesty says the majority of police officers in northern Uganda have limited training, are ill equipped and unmotivated.

Amnesty International spokesman Godfrey Odongo told VOA that while violence against women in the whole of Uganda is endemic, the rights group focused on northern Uganda where the government fought a bloody two-decade war against the rebel Lord's Resistance Army. During the insurgency, the rebels routinely raped women. A cease-fire has been in place since last year.

Odongo said Amnesty consulted extensively with government officials during the compilation of their report and it is clear the government is not treating the matter with the urgency it deserves.

"In our opinion it all boils down to state inaction and the state inaction is down to political will, the state inaction is down to the political will to address as a as a matter of immediacy and urgency the justice system as exists in the north. That is the main point we want to highlight as the main constraint," he said.

Amnesty says it commends government efforts to establish a functional justice system in post-conflict northern Uganda but it says more needs to be done to end what the spokesman calls the "culture of impunity" when it comes to violence against women.

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