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Uganda: Update to UGA33231 of 30 November 1999 on the whether military service is compulsory; exemptions and possibility of alternative service; and penalties for refusal to serve and or desertion

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 6 June 2001
Citation / Document Symbol UGA36955.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Uganda: Update to UGA33231 of 30 November 1999 on the whether military service is compulsory; exemptions and possibility of alternative service; and penalties for refusal to serve and or desertion, 6 June 2001, UGA36955.E, available at: [accessed 19 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

In addition to information found in UGA33231.E of 30 November 1999, the Immigration and Nationality Directorate states that although there is no military conscription in Uganda, "there have been several reports from concerned parents of forced recruitment" (Oct. 2000).

Forced recruitment is allegedly done both by government forces and rebel forces (GINIE n.d.; HRW Apr. 1999; DPA 4 Sept. 1999; UN 29 July 1999). According to Global Information Networks in Education, Ugandan People's Defence Forces (UPDF) mistreats deserters from the rebel forces. According to this source,

during the war in 1980s, large numbers of children were used as soldiers by Museveni's National Resistance Army. In November 1998, parents protested the secret recruitment by the Uganda's People Defense Forces of 500 youths in Hoima. Most of them below 18 and with questionable discipline records, were recruited without the consent of their parents. Uganda is currently engaged in an internal armed conflict against different rebel groups in the country: Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), National Army for Liberation of Uganda (Nalu), West Nile Bank Front (WNBF) and Uganda Rescue Front (UNLF-II). Both LRA and ADF recruit children below 18 years of age. The LRA normally targets children between 12 and 16 years of age for abduction and children are mainly used as slave labour and all are trained as soldiers. The ADF routinely abducts children from schools. The Ugandan army has claimed to engage in rescue efforts on behalf of children forced into opposition groups however, there is evidence that many of these children are still treated as enemies. In January 1999, the Ugandan army executed five teenage boys the ages of 14 and 17 suspected of being ADF rebels. It has been reported by a confidential source that there are a number of child soldiers from the WNBF who are currently in government custody, some as young as ten (n.d).

Several sources corroborate the above information (HRW Apr. 1999; The Monitor 17 June 1999, ibid.; 27 May 1999; UN 29 July 1999). According to The Monitor, Amnesty International allegedly stated that in March 1998 "at least 30 children recently abducted by the LRA and bound together, were killed by soldiers in circumstances that amounted to an extrajudicial execution at Wang Alur swamp in Kitgum District" (17 June 1999).

A Human Rights Watch report states that the LRA kills children attempting to escape from their ranks while those who manage to escape are also killed by government forces (Apr. 1999). Human Rights Watch reports that "in January 1999, the Ugandan army executed, in circumstances still to be clarified, five teenage boys between ages of 14 and 17 suspected of being rebel soldiers" (ibid.). The UPDF also reportedly killed over 30 abducted children in northern Uganda in May 1999 (The Monitor 27 May 1999).

No reports on exemptions, possibility of alternative service, penalties for refusal to serve and/or evasion could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA). 4 September 1999. Antje Passenheim. "Africa's Child Soldiers Fight Well, Eat Little." (NEXIS)

Global Information Networks in Education (GINIE). "Uganda." [Accessed://5 June 2001]

Human Rights Watch. April 1999. "More than 120,000 Child Soldiers Fighting in Africa." (NEXIS)

Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND), Home Office, London, UK. October 2000. Uganda Assessment. Country Information and Policy Unit. [Accessed://5 June 2001]

The Monitor [Kampala]. 17 June 1999. James Tumusiime. "Uganda: Amnesty Blames Army for Rape, Killings." (NEXIS)

______. May 27 1999. "Uganda: UPDF Killed 30 Children, Says Priest." (NEXIS)

United Nations. 29 July 1999. "Child Labor Treaty Adopted." (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch World Report 1999. New York: Human Rights Watch.

_____. 1999. Hostile to Democracy: The Movement System and Political Repression in Uganda. New York: Human Rights Watch.

_____. 1997. The Scars of Death: Children Abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda. New York: Human Rights Watch.

Uganda: A Country Study. 1990. Edited by Rita M. Byrnes. Washington, DC: Secretary of the Army.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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