Training has started for all UPDF officers and men on how to investigate and document sexual violence in conflict areas.
According to a communique by Lt Col Deo Akiiki, the UPDF Deputy Spokesman, the coaching which is taking place at Royal Suites Hotel in Bugolobi Kampala has started with UPDF spokespersons.
All UPDF units in Uganda and outside Uganda will be subsequently be walked through the skills, the statement reads.
The initiative, focusing on the second edition of the International Protocol on documentation and investigation of sexual Violence in conflict, is funded by the British Council.
The Refugee Law Project an outreach of the School of Law Makerere University has partnered with UPDF to carry out the training.
The UPDF spokesperson in the statement wrote that the projects 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, AKiiki continues in the notice, 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. Richard Karemire, the UPDF spokesperson who officiated the opening of the event, 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, and Eritrea among others.
“Our expectations are great but not enough since Knowledge is never toxic,” said Brig. Karemire.
Karemire 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.