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Human Rights Watch Accuses Ugandan Army of Abusing Civilians

Human Rights Watch says Ugandan soldiers assigned to protect civilians displaced by the civil war in the north are committing abuses against them -- a charge rejected by Uganda's army. The U.S.-based rights group said in a report that troops are raping, killing and illegally detaining civilians with impunity. It urged the International Criminal Court in The Hague to conduct an inquiry that may lead to charges against soldiers, as well as rebels from the Lord's Resistance Army.

But an army spokesman denied the soldiers are abusing civilians with impunity. He said those found guilty of harassing civilians have been arrested and sentenced.

Aid agencies estimate more than one-and-a-half million people have been affected by the 19-year-long conflict in northern Uganda -- where rebels routinely attack civilians, raid refugee camps and abduct children.

Meanwhile, a well-known Ugandan military leader and opposition politician, retired army commander Major General Mugisha Muntu, says it’s not just civilians in northern uganda who are being mistreated.

He told Voice of America reporter William Eagle that the ruling party is misusing the intelligence and police services – as well as the army –to crack down on political opponents. That includes, he says, members of his own movement, the Forum for Democratic Change.