After turbulent regimes of Idi Amin and Milton Obote II, Uganda has enjoyed relative peace for the last 25 years under President Museveni’s stewardship but the country is now named among those facing threats of mass killings, a new report says.
According to internationally-acclaimed Peoples under Threat Index 2011, the current human rights violations and communal tensions in the country, if not checked, could spark off mass killings in Uganda.
“There has been a national conversation in Uganda about the unpredictable nature of the transition the country is taking,” said Mr Perazzi Marusca, the spokesperson for Minority Rights Group International (MRG), which compiles the annual survey.
‘The situation is exacerbated by the mistrust between central government, political parties, and kingdoms, heightened by the government’s swift passing of the Institution of Traditional or Cultural Leaders’ Bill 2011 and arbitrary arrests of opposition leaders,” adds Mr Marusca .
MRG is a UK-based non-governmental organisation working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide.
In the last one month, Uganda has witnessed the worst protests in recent history of people opposing the increasing commodity prices due to rising inflation.
The protests, which have so far claimed at least 10 lives, have met stiff resistance from the State, which accuses the opposition of trying to topple the government through stirring mass uprisings. Several opposition leaders have been arrested and imprisoned for allegedly inciting violence.
According to the survey, Cote d’lvoire, which has just suffered post-election violence that left hundreds of lives lost, is ranked the most significant riser in this year’s survey in Africa, while Afghanistan leads globally.
The report, launched in Nairobi last Thursday, says despite the ouster of Laurent Gbagbo and the installation of President Alessane Ouattara, the risk of further killing remains high in Cote d’lvoire, with over one million internally displaced, and armed militias on both sides threatening revenge attacks.
The index is created from a basket of 10 indicators, all known antecedents to mass violence, including the rule of law, prevailing conflict and previous experience of genocide or political mass killings.
They reflect the fact that communities are more at risk in states with poor governance, prone to conflict and with a record of previous killings.
Over the last five years, Peoples under Threat has pioneered the use of statistical analysis to identify situations around the world where communities are at risk of mass killing.
On many occasions, countries that have risen sharply up the table have later become scene of gross rights violations, among them Sri Lanka, Sudan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and Yemen.
Other African countries that have risen significantly in the table this year are Guinea and Libya. Somalia and Sudan, where violence is ongoing, remain at the overall head of the table.
The survey says more than half of the top 10 countries are African states, including DR Congo, Ethiopia and Nigeria.