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Uganda

Volume 447: debated on Tuesday 13 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the written statement by the Secretary of State for International Development of 23 May 2006, Official Report, column 81WS, on his visit to Uganda, what steps she is taking to ensure the Secretary General's recommendations to the Security Council of the United Nations are submitted without further delay; and if she will call for a UN Special Envoy, a UN Panel of Experts and action to improve the protection of civilians throughout Northern Uganda. (75041)

UN Security Council Resolution 1663 of 24 March 2006 requested the UN Secretary General to make recommendations to the Council on how to address more effectively the problem of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). On 26 April 2006, the Assistant Secretary General at the Department of Political Affairs briefed the Security Council on the threat posed by the LRA and made a number of recommendations, including that:

a Panel of Experts be established to investigate the financial backing for the LRA;

the Government of Uganda be encouraged to accept the appointment of a senior envoy for the LRA;

the Government of Uganda set out a strategy for dealing with the root causes of the conflict through dialogue so that internally displaced peoples could return home.

In the Security Council discussion which followed the UK welcomed these proposals. We are urging the Secretariat at all levels to deliver a detailed written report as soon as possible, as the basis for taking these proposals forward.

The UK is encouraging the Ugandan Government to accept the appointment of a Special Envoy. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development raised this with President Museveni on 16 May when they discussed the role a Special Envoy could play in achieving greater regional co-operation on the LRA issue.

Improving the protection of civilians is a crucial issue and on 4 May the Government of Uganda launched the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) to oversee the protection of civilians, the conditions of internally displaced persons planning for the return of the displaced to their homes and peace building including the return and reintegration of combatants and reconciliation.

This JMC represents an important step forward. It involves greater public recognition by the Government of Uganda of the scale of the problem and it creates an opportunity for constructive dialogue and joint planning. The JMC is currently developing an action plan to take this work forward and our High Commission in Kampala and the Department for International Development Uganda are both closely involved in this.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the reports relating to the proposed trial for treason of Dr. Besigye, the Leader of the Opposition in Uganda; and if she will make a statement (76024)

Dr. Besigye, the leader of the Forum for Democratic Change party in Uganda, is currently on trial in the Ugandan High Court facing a number of treason charges. On 18 May this trial was put on hold pending the outcome of a petition to the Constitutional Court, made by Dr. Besigye’s lawyers. The Constitutional Court is expected to give a ruling by the end of June 2006.

On 16 May my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development raised Dr. Besigye’s on-going High Court trial with President Museveni. The President gave an assurance that due process would be followed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 25 May 2006, Official Report, column 1971W, on Uganda, what assessment she has made of reports of (a) the execution by Ugandan security forces of two soldiers for the alleged killing of Father O’Toole and (b) the 2003 execution by Uganda Chieftaincy Military Intelligence of (i) Ismael Muviru, (ii) Mutwabil Walakira and (iii) Captain Sewamuwa Daudi; and if she will make a statement. (76214)

Pursuant to my answer to the hon. Member on 25 May 2006, Official Report, column 1970W, on Uganda, no-one has been executed on the orders of the High Court since 1999.

Father Declan O’Toole and two workers from his parish were murdered on 20 March 2002. Following a field court martial two Uganda Peoples Defence Force (UPDF) soldiers, Corporal James Omediyo and Private Abdullah Mohammed were executed by firing squad on 25 March 2002. These executions prompted legal challenges to the authority of the UPDF to act in this manner and two related cases are currently before the Supreme Court of Uganda.

The non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch has claimed that, in September 2003, the Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force detained without trial and then executed Ismael Muviru, Mutwabil Walakira, Captain Sewamuwa Daudi, and another unnamed man. The UPDF, the Uganda Human Rights Commission and the independent Foundation for Human Rights Initiative have reported that they investigated the allegations and could not find any evidence to verify the claim. There also was no known response to newspaper appeals for the public to come forward with any information on the case.

We have repeatedly made clear to the Ugandan Government our opposition to the death penalty and the need for a fair and transparent judicial process.