Accessibility links

Ugandan Army Denies Torture Allegations

Uganda's army is denying allegations from a parliament member that soldiers in a remote region are torturing and killing civilians.

Army spokesman Felix Kulaigye told VOA Wednesday the army has arrested some soldiers deployed there for extortion, but it is "absolutely" not true any officers have been involved in killings.

Kulaigye was responding to an accusation made by the parliament representative from Karamoja, Francis Adamson Kiyonga, in northeastern Uganda, where soldiers are conducting a disarmament campaign.

The representative said soldiers are torturing residents by severely beating and burning them to get them to admit to having weapons. He said at least 15 people have been killed.

A human rights activist, Mohammed Ndifuna, said his organization (Human Rights Network) is investigating the accusations, which echo a similar report three years ago by Human Rights Watch. But he said the timing of the announcement, just months before Ugandans vote for president, suggests a possible political motive.

The implicated army unit is commanded by the son of president Yoweri Museveni.

The Karamoja region is home to nomadic herders, who traditionally use weapons to defend their cattle and their access to water sources.

But the high number of weapons has also led to insecurity and increased banditry. The government has made several attempts to collect illegal weapons in the region, confiscating tens of thousands of weapons since 2001.

Locals say the government takes their weapons without providing police to maintain security.