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Uganda: Information on "Operation Wembley" launched in June 2002, which became the "Violent Crime Crack Unit" (VCCU) in 2003 (June 2002-March 2004)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 12 March 2004
Citation / Document Symbol UGA42494.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Uganda: Information on "Operation Wembley" launched in June 2002, which became the "Violent Crime Crack Unit" (VCCU) in 2003 (June 2002-March 2004), 12 March 2004, UGA42494.E, available at: [accessed 21 October 2017]
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.

Launched in June 2002 (HRW 2003; Country Reports 2003 25 Feb. 2004, sect.1c; AI 14 Oct. 2003), the codenamed "Operation Wembley, a "joint security team formed [of forces] from the intelligence services, police and the army" (ibid. 2003), was aimed at fighting violent crimes in the country (ibid.; HRW 2003; Country Reports 2003 25 Feb. 2004).

However, various sources stated that its members were implicated in extrajudicial killings and had committed abuses against civilians (AI 14 Oct. 2003; New Vision 30 May 2003; HRW 2003; Monitor 25 Feb. 2003). Citing Veronica Eragu Bichetero, the Ugandan Human Rights Commissioner, a 25 February 2003 Monitor article noted that during Operation Wembley, security forces have committed atrocities such "using pliers to pluck the finger nails of suspects during interrogations and squashing the private parts of suspects to extract confessions." She also indicated that security forces, including those from the Operation Wembley "had plunged the country into anarchy through torture of suspects" (New Vision 25 Feb. 2003).

According to Amnesty International's annual report for 2003, "those arrested under 'Operation Wembley' were held without charge [...]. Of approximately 450 suspects arrested by November, around 200 were reportedly to face trials before military courts made up of senior army officers."

While Operation Wembley was disbanded and replaced by the Violent Crime Crack United (VCCU) in 2003 (AI 14 Oct. 2003; Country Reports 2003 25 Feb. 2004, 1.c; The Monitor 29 Feb. 2004; ibid. 26 July 2003), various reports stated that the latter was also involved in human rights abuses against civilians (Country Reports 2003 25 Feb. 2004, sect 1. a and c; AVSI 2003; AI 14 Oct. 2004).

A 14 October 2003 Amnesty International report stated that "[i]ncommunicado detention, extraction of information and confession through torture and degrading treatment appear to be a common feature of the practices, which continue to be carried out by VCCU agents."

The Monitor, a Kampala-based newspaper, reported the following:

In January [2003], Operation Wembley, under which security forces could arrest and try by court martial civilians found in possession of military property, was phased out and replaced by the VCCU, which also used military courts to try suspects. The VCCU arrested and detained at least 500 suspects on various counts including terrorism, aggravated robbery, murder, illegal possession of firearms and desertion (29 Feb. 2004).

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.


Amnesty International 2003. Amnesty International Annual Report 2003. "Uganda." [Accessed 11 Mar. 2004]

_____. 14 October 2003. Uganda: Summary of Human Rights Concerns. (AI Index: AFR 59/011/2003 (Public). [Accessed 11 Mar. 2004]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2003. 25 February 2004. United States Department of State. Washington, D.C. . [Accessed 10 Mar. 2004]

European Parliament. 2003. Provisional Edition : 07/03/2002. Texts Adopted by Parliament. "Uganda." (p5-TA-PROV (2003)0341). [Accessed 11 Mar. 2004]

Human Rights Watch (HRW). 2003. Human Rights Watch World Report 2003. "Uganda." [Accessed 11 Mr. 2004]

Monitor [Kampala]. 29 February 2004. Badru D. Mulumba. "Is ISO Overstepping Its Mandate?"

_____. 26 July 2003. Alex B. Atuhaire and Nelson Naturinda. "Anne Mugisha Father Arrested." [Accessed 11 Mar. 2004]

_____. 25 February 2003. Sheila Kulubya. "Govt Urged to Train Police in Interrogation." (Dialog)

New Vision [Kampala]. 30 May 2003. "Uganda: Rights Group Accuses Security Forces of Killing Civilians." (Dialog)

_____. 25 February 2003. Ssejjoba, Eddie. "Op Wembley Irks Rights Body." (Dialog)

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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