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KARAMOJA CALLS FOR CLOSE COORDINATION IN DISARMAMENT DURING MOROTO COURT OPEN DAY

Moroto District leaders and court staff

BY TIMOTHY EODU

MOROTO: MONDAY, JUNE 06, 2022

Karamoja residents have called for close coordination and cooperation from security forces during the operations to disarm cattle rustlers.

They made the appeal during a Court Open Day, the first time Moroto district has hosted such an event, bringing together district leaders, court staff, litigants and members of the community.

Chief Magistrate, Emmy Sayekwo, said the Court Open Day was important to interact with the community on the various concerns and complains.

He said the biggest concerns of the Karimoja people revolve around disarmament of rustlers and that Courts play a very important role in ensuring the rule of law.

The chief Magistrate added that peaceful Karamoja would allow the flow of development and called for collaboration at all levels to end insecurity in the region.

The Moroto Chief Magistrates Court organized the sensitization session with support from the International justice Movement (IJM).

The theme of the open Day Court was: “Justice is possible. Act now to end violence against women and girls.”

According to Ruth Lawino, the Representative of IJM, the aim is to strengthen the communities to appreciate the justice system and understand how it operates.

She added that the event is meant to bring court closure to the community such that they can learn and also lodge in their concerns which would build their confidence and trust in the judiciary.

Simon Nangiro, the Karamoja Elders Association (KEA) representative said the indigenous justice system referred to as Akiriket existed long time ago and was aimed at eradicating bad cultural practices.

He however insisted that the wrong perception by researchers that the Karimojong are born criminals has led to their harsh handling as witnessed in the recent disarmament operations.

Many residents complained that during a recent cordon and search operation at a cattle market, traders made big losses because everyone in the market was put under arrest by the security forces.

Christine Apuun, a resident of Rupa sub-county expressed concern that most often the UPDF and Police go for operation without name tags which makes it hard to identify human rights abusers among the security forces.

Meanwhile, Lokeris Richard Sam, the LC1 chairman of Nakapelimen village, faulted the forces for always delaying to respond when called by local leaders.

He also called for better coordination from the joint security forces, especially with the local community leaders, if the current situation is to be dealt with other than unleashing terror.

Responding to these claims, His Worship Sayekwo urged all the disgruntled parties to formally lodge their complaints with court so that they can be helped.

He also encouraged women to always visit court when they are being subjected to domestic violence.

Deputy CAO Moroto, Peter Gidongo Wasagani, consulting the chief Magistrate Emmy Sayekwo during the open Day Court

David Koriang, the LC5 Moroto, challenged the human rights defenders to feel the pain of those people being killed, robbed and injured by the armed cattle rustlers before reacting to the pain inflicted on a section of the people by UPDF and Police.

The Moroto Resident District commissioner, George William Wopuwa, defended the heightened cordon and search security operations in Karamoja asserting that before the operation, they engage the community on the importance of disarmament.

He said the operations have so far been very fruitful since over 27 guns have been recovered from Moroto alone.

The RDC also defended the security forces for not wearing name tags during operations saying that they could be targeted later like many leaders who he alleged have been killed in Kotido district.

He apologized for the mass arrest at Nadunget cattle market last week but added that it was inevitable because through intelligence gathered, five suspects who had guns were within the market and to fish them out, everyone had to be arrested and screened.

The operation ended with recovery of five guns, he said.

Wopuwa pledged to investigate claims of extortion by the army but was skeptical that a section of the public could use the allegations to demoralize the security forces.

He pleaded with the development partners especially human rights defenders to fund education of the Karimojong children and promote mindset change to achieve lasting peace and development in Karamoja.

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