Uganda to introduce conscription

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The following news piece slipped through our net when it was first published. The BBC reported on 20 July 2007 that Uganda plans to implement its conscription laws. According to the BBC,  "military training is to be made compulsory for all Ugandans", according to an announcement by the ruling party.

"Anyone who failed to undertake the training would be punished, said National Resistance Movement Secretary General Amama Mbabazi.

The decision was adopted at a five-day party retreat, where leaders participated in military drills and learnt to handle AK-47 rifles."

According to War Resisters' International's 1998 world survey, 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.

The 1995 constitution requires every citizen “to defend Uganda and to render national service when necessary”, and every able-bodied citizen “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” (Article 17). Under Article 17, it is also the duty of every Ugandan citizen “to protect children and vulnerable persons against any form of abuse, harassment or ill-treatment”.

Sources: BBC, 20 July 2007, Coalition to stop the use of child soldiers: report 2004

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