Informe sobre el país: Uganda

Ultima revisión: 11 Sep 1998
11 Sep 1998

1 Conscription

conscription exists

In 1995 conscription was introduced in Uganda.

Conscription is enshrined in art. 17 of the 1995 constitution which states: "(1) It is the duty of every citizen of Uganda (...) (e) to defend Uganda and to render national service when necessary; (...). (2) It is the duty of all able-bodied citizens to undergo military training for the defence of this Constitution and the protection of the territorial integrity of Uganda whenever called upon to do so; and the State shall ensure that facilities are available for such training."

In 1997 a new law introducing conscription was passed. Conscription is gradually being introduced in phases. [15]

military service

It is not exactly clear who is liable for military service.

In 1998 the government stated that the minimum age for conscription is 18. [14]

Those liable for conscription have to undergo so-called "Political Education", which involves a three-month military, political and civil training. [15] [7]

postponement and exemption

As participation in the Political Education programme is one of the requirements for entering university, students have no possibility of postponement of service.

No further details are known.


At present all teachers, civil servants, and those in government service, as well as all secondary school leavers (so called 'senior six leavers') are recruited for training in the Political Education School, where military training is compulsory. On completion of the training a certificate of attendance is issued. [15]

The minimum age to volunteer in the Uganda Peoples' Defence Force (UPDF), the former National Resistance Army (NRA), is 18. [14]

According to the 1991 New Army Act volunteers must enlist for a 9-year term of service. [3]

Apart from the armed forces Uganda has local militia, the so-called Local Defence Units (LDU) which were established in 1987, two years after President Museveni came to power. They are composed of local volunteers who have had at least primary education. [7]

Recruitment into the LDU is on a voluntary basis and carried out by Resistance Committees, now called Local Committees. The role of these committees is to screen candidates for the militia. [15]

However, in the past forced recruitment into the local militia has been reported. [11]

It was reported that the local militia in Gulu has some child soldiers aged 13 to 15 among its members. [10]

2 Conscientious objection

There is no legal provision for conscientious objection. [15]

In 1991, under the NRA Code of Conduct, applications from professional serving soldiers for discharge were made on an individual basis. [3]

Apparently, leaving the armed forces for professional serving soldiers may prove difficult. [15]

3 Draft evasion and desertion


The punishment for not responding to a call-up for "Political Education" is not exactly known. Those in government service may lose their job and secondary school leavers are not allowed to entry to government controlled high schools and universities. [15]

Under the NRA Code of Conduct, desertion from the armed forces carries a maximum penalty of death. This Code of Conduct was incorporated into the November 1991 New Army Act and the death penalty was retained for 18 offences. [5]


Desertion from the former NRA has been widespread.

In October 1990, some 4,000 NRA-soldiers who were Rwandan refugees deserted the NRA to join the Rwanda Patriotic Front when it invaded Rwanda. President Museveni dismissed all non-Ugandan members of the NRA in November 1990. [6]

In 1992 more than 1,300 prisoners who were sentenced to terms of imprisonment for desertion from the NRA were pardoned and released. At the end of 1992, there were still over 100 reported 'army deserters' detained in military barracks. [4]

Remarkable is the case of Major General David Tinyefuza, who had served as Commander in the guerrilla war against the Lord's Resistance Army, after which he had become Minister of Defence and later on presidential advisor on military affairs. He wanted to resign from the armed forces is 1997, but his resignation was rejected. The constitutional court ruled that he could resign, but the state appealed to the supreme court which reversed the earlier ruling. [15]

4 Forced recruitment by LRA and ADF

In the north of the country there is an armed opposition group called the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which is responsible for numerous killings of civilians. The LRA, supported and supplied by the Sudan government, recruits its 'soldiers' by kidnapping and abducting children, nearly half of whom are between 11 and 16 years old. Since 1994 this has become the main method of recruitment. The abducted children are forced to kill. Girls are raped and used as sex slaves. Those who try to escape face severe punishment, such as being beaten to death by other abducted children. [10] [12]

In the west of Uganda the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels are fighting a guerrilla war in which numerous civilians are killed. About their recruitment practices no information is available. [15]

5 History

Ever since independence in 1962, the armed forces of Uganda have been composed of volunteers. When President Museveni come to power, the government began reforming the military and the police. In 1986 periodic campaigns to recruit volunteers have taken place, but the government expressed its disappointment about the poor response. At the same time the government made civil servants attend political schools in which they received military training. From 1989 onwards there has been talk of the government wishing to introduce conscription. In 1995 conscription was included in the new 1995 constitution and in 1997 a conscription law was passed. [1] [2] [7] [8] [9]

6 Annual statistics

The UPDF comprises some 40,000 to 55,000 troops - 0.2 percent of the population. [13]

The size of the local militia (LDU) is not known.

The LRA is believed to be 2,000 strong. [13]

Every year about 195,000 men reach the age of 18. [13]


[1] Reuters 1989. 'Uganda to Introduce Compulsory Political Education', 30 March 1989. [2] BBC Summary of World Broadcasts 1990. 'East and Horn of Africa in Brief; Ugandan Minister Suggests Introduction of Compulsory Military Training', 12 October 1990. [3] US Department of State 1992. Country reports on Human Rights Practices for 1991. Washington DC. [4] Amnesty International 1993. Amnesty International Report 1992. AI, London, UK. [5] Amnesty International 1993. Uganda: The Death Penalty, a Barrier to Improving Human Rights. AI (AFR 59/03/93), London, UK. [6] UNHCR 1994. CDR Response to information request, 21 May 1993; RLC Response to information request 7 March 1994. [7] Abecassis, L., P. Duong, S. Perrier, N. Watt, 1994. Conscription Militaire ou Service National a Option Civique, rapport de l'enquête préliminaire effectuée auprès d'une vingtaine d'Etats membres de l'UNESCO. CCIVS - UNESCO, Paris. [8] UN Commission on Human Rights 1994. Report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to Commission resolution 1993/84 (and Addendum). United Nations, Geneva. [9] Rothenpieler, Heinz 1995. Letter to War Resisters' International, Düsseldorf, 13 September 1995. [10] Muhumuza, R. 1995 The gun children of Gulu: the reluctant child soldiers in Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Northern Uganda. World Vision Uganda, Kampala. [11] Amnesty International 1996. Amnesty International Report 1995. AI, London, UK. [12] Amnesty International 1997. Uganda "Breaking God's commands": the destruction of childhood by the Lord's Resistance Army. AI, London, UK. [13] Institute for Strategic Studies 1997. Military Balance 1997/98. ISS, London, UK. [14] Permanent Mission of Uganda to the United Nations 1998. Letter to the Quakers United Nations Office, Geneva, 28 January 1998. [15] Musika, Herbert 1998. Comments, additions and corrections to the draft report. Masaka, Uganda, 31 August 1998.

Recent stories on conscientious objection: Uganda

01 Nov 2007

Las noticias siguientes llegaron a nuestra red al momento de ser publicadas. La BBC informó el 20 de julio de 2007 que Uganda planifica aplicar sus leyes sobre el servicio militar.

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