The Uganda Country Research and Information Visit was undertaken by Dr. Naomi Kipuri who is a member of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations/ Communities of the African Commission, and Mr. Singoei Korir, the director of the Centre for Minority Rights Development (CEMIRIDE) based in Kenya, in his capacity as a member of the Working Group’s advisory network of experts.
According to the Terms of Reference, the Research and Information Visit was to disseminate information to government, regional/local authorities, the national human rights institution, human rights organizations, international agencies, indigenous peoples’ organizations, the media etc. about the report and position of the African Commission on the rights of indigenous populations and to gather information about the human rights situation of indigenous peoples in the country. The visit was also designed to update the Working Group on the human rights situation of the Batwa Pygmies of Western Uganda as well as the situation of pastoralists in the north and north-eastern parts of the country. It also sought to identify the challenges faced by these communities and by the government and other stakeholders in addressing the human rights situations of indigenous communities.
To the Government of Uganda:
- Recognize the Batwa and the pastoralists in Uganda as indigenous peoples in the sense in which the term is understood in international law, and make appropriate legislative provision in this respect.
- Ratify ILO Convention 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries.
- Return portions of protected areas to indigenous communities, and institute sharing of benefits accruing from the use of resources in those areas.
- Provide compensation for lands that were alienated without consultation or consent, as a way of reducing the vulnerability of indigenous peoples.
- Conduct research on the activities of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers undertaking the disarmament programme with a view to controlling their brutality and human rights violations, especially in the Karamoja Region.
- Institute a regional disarmament, small arms and weapons control and conflict resolution process that involves the participation of northern and north-eastern neighbours, particularly Kenya and Sudan.
- Involve and encourage traditional/indigenous leadership and other indigenous management structures in order to increase community participation and informed consent on matters affecting their lives, including disarmament.
- Work with DANIDA to reinstate the DANIDA-funded integrated disarmament programme.
- Address the problem of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and protect them from exploitation and human rights abuses in urban centres.
- Address the situation of indigenous women and children among the IDPs in urban slums by supplying them with basic needs such as food and shelter.
- Address the very vulnerable situation of indigenous women in general.
- Implement the Equal Opportunities Framework in order to address the needs and rights of indigenous communities in Uganda, particularly the hunter-gatherers and pastoralists.
- Conduct a study on the Batwa as recommended by the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and develop a plan of action – involving the Batwa at all stages – to address all aspects of discrimination and marginalization.
- Adopt adequate means and measures to ensure that Batwa communities, including children, are provided with information regarding birth registration procedures, access to healthcare facilities and education.
- Ensure that effective and culturally sensitive education programmes are in place in the Karamoja Region.
- Replicate positive experiences developed from the Alternative Education for Karamoja programme in other similar areas.
- Ensure the effective representation of indigenous peoples in local and national governance structures.
To the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights:
- Conduct a Mission to Uganda to deepen dialogue with the government on various human rights issues affecting indigenous peoples/communities in the country.
To the International Community:
- Follow up on successful programmes and replicate positive lessons. The Alternative Education for Karamoja programme has remained at the pilot stage for ten years. The successes realized ought to be implemented in other similar areas.
- Reinstate the DANIDA-funded integrated disarmament programme.