|Índice de Artículos|
|Todas las páginas|
A Memorandum to the Right Honourable Speaker and the Honourable Members of Parliament
The Right Honourable Speaker and Honourable Members of Parliament,
All the Religious of the Catholic Church in Uganda would like to be present with you on this occasion. Those of us who are actually here are representing all of the five-thousand Religious: Sisters, Brothers and Priests who are at the service of the People of Uganda. We are people who serve, educate, care for the sick, help the dying and bring the Good News to the poor. We serve the Nation and therefore we ask you to listen to us and consider our Memorandum.
"the Church has the right always and everywhere to proclaim moral principles, even in respect of the social order, and make judgments about any human matter in so far as this is required by fundamental human rights or the salvation of souls." (Code of Canon Law, no 747),
therefore, we speak.
We wish to stand steadfastly behind our Bishops in their Easter Message (April 14th, 2004). That letter pleaded for:
1. an end to the bloody conflict in the North and East of our country
2. a transparent transition to multi-party system of government
3. that greater energy be expended in the fight against corruption.
1. Towards ending the conflict in the North and East of the Country
We Religious are disturbed by the plight of our fellow Ugandans in the North and East. We have just returned from visiting them. Many of us also live and work there and we all see with our own eyes what this eighteen year-old conflict has done to our people. All the rest of us who work in more secure conditions suffer because of what our people in the North and East are suffering. "If one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers." We have reached a point where we cannot endure it any longer and so we come to you.
We are well aware that our Government has tried hard to resolve this conflict. We were impressed by the efforts, energy and time that the President has personally given to seeking peace for the people of the North and East of the country. Yet the killings go on and people continue to live in fear and misery. Clearly the approach to securing peace is not working and more appropriate means must be sought urgently. We cry: enough is enough!
In 1996 the Government resettled most of the population (more than one million people) of Gulu, Pader and Kitgum in Internally Displaced Camps (IDP). This resettlement was extended East to Soroti, when the LRA activities spread to that area in June '03. The resettled people were assured at the time that this was done so that the Government could better provide for their safety and security. Nevertheless, thousands were killed in these very IDP camps over the years. For example: in the following camps: Atiak, Gulu, where in 1995, 215 people were slaughtered; Karuma, Gulu in Œ96 where 50 were killed; Acol-Pii, Pader in '96 where 98 were killed; Lamwo, Kitgum in '97 where 412 were killed; Abia, Lira in '04 where 51 perished and Barlonyo, Lira in '04 where 192 were wiped out; Pagak and Lukome in May'04 where more than 70 people were slaughtered and Awe in June which lost more than 30 innocent.
The Government says that it is able to contain the situation and to solve the problem on its own. Yet, People continue to be killed, abducted and mutilated; even in these "protected" camps (many of these killings go unreported in the media). It is a great shame for the Nation that so many of its citizens live in chaos and that up to one and a half million are living in appalling conditions in displacement camps and some for many years.
We uncompromisingly agree with His Eminence, Cardinal Wamala, who stated in his Press Release of 25/9/2003:
"We unequivocally condemn the barbaric activities of the group which calls itself: 'the lord's resistance army'. There is absolutely no room for such tactics in a democratic and civilised society."
Right Honourable Mr. Speaker and Honourable Members, as a result of our visit to Gulu and discussions with people representative of all of the North and East, we respectfully recommend the following so as to facilitate peace in the North and East of Uganda.
A. Recourse to Neutral Mediators
We believe that peace in the North and the East cannot be achieved by force of arms. It will only come about by an appropriate process of negotiation. The current issue of the North and the East has its own rather complicated history which goes back a long way. These same issues also involve other nations. Therefore, it is our conviction that only neutral and competent mediators can facilitate healing and the restoration of peace.
We would like to draw your attention to wise advice, again, from Cardinal Wamala in that same Press Release:
"Our Nation is crying out for healing and a renewed sense of leadership. Exclusive reliance on the use of armed force is not the answer and has failed the long suffering of our land. Our neighbouring countries have been wise to invite the aid of objective mediators in their search for a justice that accommodates all."
B. That the North and the East of Uganda be declared a Disaster Area
We ask that the most badly affected areas be declared a disaster area and be assisted accordingly.
C. Conditions in the IDP Camps
We also ask that the appalling conditions in the IDP camps be alleviated with help from both Uganda and the International Community.
D. Better proportion of military budget be allocated to the affected people
A major part of the national budget is spent on defence and the army. Some of that money could be used to much greater effect to rebuild the ruins of the North and the East.
E. Inappropriate reliance on local militias
The local militias, we know from past experience, often later lead to tribal conflicts and general insecurity. These local militias get very little formal training. Yet many end up on the front-line of battle. This is a major injustice to the local militias and their families.
F. Continue the Amnesty
We appreciate that the amnesty continues to be extended to the rebels. We hope that the amnesty will build up the trust of the rebels in the Government so that they, the rebels, come forward and give up their arms. But, we observed on our visit, that there are serious apprehensions and fear about the application of this amnesty. This is an issue that warrants the Government&Mac226;s attention.
G. Land issue
The Internally Displaced People (IDPs) urgently need reassurance because they are very concerned about the security of their land which they left before being resettled in the camps by the Government.
· In the last budget: June 2004; forty tractors were allocated to the North. People ask: where are these tractors?
· If the Government can provide land and security for these 40 tractors to operate, then could it not also provide security for the people to go back to their own land?
· The handling of the land issue in Gulu could have implications for the security of land rights in thewhole of Uganda.
H. Trauma of Children
The generation of children born since 1986 in the North need special care because they have been deprived of their rights. From what we have observed their physical, psychological, spiritual, social, moral and educational development has been seriously jeopardised. As we see it, the Nation has the responsibility of giving these persons priority status. Their plight is a national disgrace for Uganda.
2. Transition to multi-party system of government
Uncertainty and bewilderment around this whole process of transition is sadly very likely to divert the attention of the various organs of Government from the predicament of the suffering, especially those of the North and East. It is now clear for all to see that currently a climate of confusion has enveloped Uganda. It is further exacerbated by the recent ruling of the Constitutional Court which nullified the Referendum Act 2000 on 25th June &Mac226;04. In this confusion many of the urgent and genuine needs of the Nation are in danger of being overlooked. We draw your attention to what our Bishops have highlighted in their Pastoral Letter: A Concern for Peace, Unity and Harmony; Easter 2004; pages 10-13; paragraph number 6.0. (This text is found in the Appendix).
3. The fight against corruption
Corruption in high-place compromises trust in the sincerity and concern of the Government. We cite the following failures in good governance as major contributing factors to unrest and apprehension in the land:
- Corruption in the Country is endemic. The Nation is being looted by a few powerful and well placed people. Our response to this phenomenon is totally inadequate.
- We appreciate the help that has come to Uganda from outside. Also we appreciate the Government's efforts for poverty alleviation. Nevertheless poverty - especially in the villages - is clearly on the increase, while, at the same time a very rich class is also growing. Many of these new rich cannot explain adequately how they acquired their wealth. Again, we would like to draw your attention to the Bishops' Easter Letter of 2004; paragraph no. 7. (This text is found in the Appendix).
We have been to Gulu and have seen the misery of the people. We have listened to their questions and concerns. Now we have shared these questions and concerns with you, Honourable Members. We call upon you, Right Honourable Speaker and Honourable Members, that you exercise your power and influence, to persuade the Executive and the President as to the urgency of the concerns of the suffering people. An appropriate response will contribute immeasurably to setting our Nation on the road to peace and reconciliation.
Right Honourable Speaker, we request you kindly to take this Memorandum to His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni.
As concerned servants of our Nation, we echo the sentiments of our Church:
"The joy and the hope, the grief and the anguish of the people of our times, especially those who are poor or afflicted in any way, are the joy and the hope, the grief and the anguish of the followers of Christ as well."
(Vatican 2, Gaudium et Spes, no.1)
We can contribute to the joy and hope of the people now by our endeavours to alleviate their often unnecessary grief and anguish. Let us be one in this worthy endeavour.
(Br. Vincent Barigye, FIC, Chairman of AMSRIU-ARU)
(Fr. Henri Valette, M.Afr, Chairman of ARU Justice and Peace Commission).
Paragraphs 6 and 7 from the Easter 2004 Message of the Catholic Bishops of Uganda.
6.0 Comments and Observations on the Current Situation:
1. The year 2006 is expected to mark yet another landmark in the political history of our country. This landmark should be prepared for with all due diligence and in a spirit of patriotism. We salute our government for abiding by that constitution, in season and out of season. Even when some constitutional rulings have not been in favor of some government organs, the observance and acceptance of the constitutional rulings have been a great lesson to all Ugandans. We commend the government on that good score.
2. Since late 2000 there have been a number of developments pointing to the process of a peaceful TRANSITION from the Movement system to a pluralistic multiparty system. These developments have included: the establishment of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) which now has submitted its report to cabinet; the Recommendation of the National Executive Committee of the Movement to the Movement National Conference to open up political space and to embrace competitive multiparty system, which recommendation was fully endorsed by the Conference in March 2003. Other developments have included the enacting of the law on Political Parties and Political Organizations; the beginning of registration of political parties and organizations. At the moment the country is waiting for the guidelines on how the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Commission are to be discussed in an inclusive manner.
3. Some of the above developments still need improvement as various sections of our country are requesting. The Political Parties and Organizations' Act has been successfully challenged in the Courts of Law and sections of it have been declared null and void. Amending this Act is now a priority of Cabinet and Parliament. The talks between government and political parties have so far failed to include several of the older political parties. This impasse must be removed so that these talks include all stakeholders. The discussion and adoption, rejection or modification of the recommendations of the CRC Report should be transparent, honest and fair so that it builds unity, peace, harmony and democracy and not the opposite.
4. In order to achieve a genuine and democratic transition which will ensure peace, harmony and unity, we offer to Government a few contributions as follows:
a) We encourage Government: the President, Cabinet and Parliament to ensure that the transition process is credible, inclusive and not manipulated in any way. Several proposals given to the CRC at the last moment by Cabinet, particularly those that aim at undermining the powers of Parliament and autonomous constitutional bodies, while increasing the powers of the presidency, these proposals appear to us as not having taken seriously and reflected on the lessons of our past political history.
b) We call upon Government to show a clear and transparent spirit and commitment to the transition to multiparty system, as endorsed by the Movement Conference and as has constantly been advocated for by leaders and members of political parties.
c) The independence of the Judiciary and the autonomy of Parliament and other constitutional bodies should be enviously maintained in order to ensure that the necessary checks and balances among the organs of the State are guaranteed.
d) To ensure that the necessary amendments of the laws for the transition as constitutionally mandated in 2006 are not delayed nor done in a hurry due to absence of the necessary laws and other mechanisms demanded by those laws.
e) As a nation we must be more committed to the observance of Human rights and their promotion, totally eliminating any type of torture by any security agency and committed to observance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Human Rights Conventions, Covenants and Treaties Uganda has duly signed and ratified and committed to all human rights provisions in our Constitution. We need to respect the sovereignty and will of the people as the 1948 Human Rights Declaration states:
"The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of the government; this shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures". (Art. 21)
As a nation we live and exist in the public eye of the International community. We deserve a good name everywhere in the world. Any Government agent and any other person, who behaves or acts contrary to the law and the established human rights should be dealt with according to the law, since no one is above the law and all persons are equal before the law. It is this enforcement of the rule of law that will assist us to get rid of violence, torture and arbitrary actions by anyone, including law enforcement officers.
7.0 Greater Energy in the Fight against Corruption:
Corruption has become a cancer that needs greater energies and special attention. It has and still continues to eat away all resources at the expense of the lives of the vulnerable groups, who should have been at the center of every step to meaningful service delivery. This makes a very big contribution to the poverty and underdevelopment that make our country lag behind. Wealth in the hands of a few is undermining the dignity of the people who are turned into beggars for the rest of their lives. Calling again the attention of all the faithful to our Pastoral letter dated April 1995, "Political Maturity: Consolidating Peace and National Unity" pg. 11, we repeat that:
"Ugandans are beginning to become impatient with the Government's apparent incapacity to deal with, fight and eventually eliminate corruption. It is believed that millions of shillings of public funds end up in the pockets of individuals, and this creates frustration and erosion of confidence in public authorities. Legislation which exists to ensure proper accountability and transparency in the use and administration of public funds, must be enforced; where it is lacking, new laws should be enacted to stamp out the evil practice of corruption".