By Watchdog reporter
Uganda People’s Defense Forces has rolled up training for its officers and men on how to investigate and document sexual violence in conflict areas.
Starting with UPDF spokespersons, the training currently taking place at Royal Suites Hotel in Bugolobi Kampala will later be spread to all UPDF units in Uganda and outside the country where its men and women are on national or international duty.
The Refugee Law Project, an outreach of the School of Law Makerere University has partnered with UPDF to carry out the training specifically focusing on the second edition of the International Protocol on documentation and investigation of sexual Violence in conflict with funding from the British Council.
The training which was opened by the Ministry of Defense and UPDF spokesperson Brig Richard Karemire aims at equipping UPDF soldiers and ministry of Defense civilian staffs with skills in investigating and documenting sexual violence as a means of promoting accountability for the violations.
The training will provide quality and response services to victims and survivors of sexual violence such as refugees, asylum seekers, deportees, unaccompanied minors and internally displaced persons.
Brig. Karemire described the training as timely since Uganda as an Island of peace has attracted multitudes of refugees, most especially women and children from South Sudan, Central African Republic, Somalia, DRC, Eritrea among others where it has hitherto scored success in peace support operations.
“Our expectations are great but not enough since knowledge is never toxic,” said Brig. Karemire.
He commended the Refugee Law Project (RLP) for identifying and filling the gap and implored participants to develop a culture of zero tolerance to sexual violence in conflict areas.
Sexual violence has for long been a heinous crime and used as a weapon of war yet it is still one of the least prosecuted crimes.
UPDF on its part has been investigating allegations of sexual violence raised by different reports from areas where they are currently operating. UPDF is also the first point of contact to survivors and local communities. The training together with media coverage of court martial proceedings will go a long way in avoiding any occurrences of such acts and ensure transparency as we pave way for justice and accountability to victims.
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