Legal Studies Assessment – Human Rights
Child Soldiers in Uganda
Child Soldiers in the Uganda
Human rights are the basic rights that allow human beings to live with dignity. These rights are inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, nationality/ethnicity, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. Universal human rights are often expressed through law, in the forms of treaties, international laws, general principles and other sources of international law. International human rights law sets responsibilities of Governments to act in certain ways or to refrain from certain actions, in order to protect human rights and the freedom of all people. An example of an international law protecting human rights is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the UN General Assembly on the 10th of December 1948. In the case of children, a specific declaration had been written; the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC) adopted by the UN General Assembly on the 20th of November 1989 and entered into force a year later. Although these rights have been stated, human rights are still violated all around the world and specifically in the case of child soldiers.
The military use of children takes mainly 3 different forms. Children can take direct part in warfare (child soldiers) (see Appendix 1), or they can be used in support roles (porters, spies, messengers, look outs) or they can be used for political advantage either as human shields or in propaganda. In Uganda children are being used as soldiers in all these areas especially since the beginning of the war between Joseph Kony’s LRA (Lords Resistance Army) and the Ugandan Government.
This war began in 1986, when Yoweri Museveni (see Appendix 3) gained the presidency of Uganda. A woman named Alice Lakwena (see Appendix 4), from the Acholi tribe in northern Uganda (see Appendix 2) started the Holy Spirit Movement (HSM) in opposition. The group recruited followers and created alliances with rebel militias with the purpose of entering Uganda’s capital city, Kampala, and freeing the north from government oppression. The Holy Spirit Movement had regional support, but nothing else. When Alice Lakwena was exiled, there was no person to take over leadership of the Holy Spirit Movement.
This is when Joseph Kony (see Appendix 5)was introduced claiming to be a distant cousin of Alice Lakwena and the natural successor to lead the Holy Spirit Movement. Soon after Joseph Kony gained leadership of the group, he changed the name to the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA. Joseph Kony wasn’t able to sustain the group’s numbers and regional support, so he started stealing food and abducting children to fill the ranks of his army. Due to these actions he lost any remaining regional support. Joseph Kony’s tactics were, and still are, brutal. He often forced children to kill their parents or siblings with machetes or blunt tools. He abducted girls to be sex slaves for his officers. He brainwashed and indoctrinated the children with his lies and manipulated them with his claim of spiritual powers. At the climax of the conflict in Uganda, children “night commuted” (see Appendix 6). Every evening they would walk miles from their homes to the city centers. There, hundreds of children would sleep in school houses, churches, or bus depots to avoid abduction by the LRA. Kony and the LRA abducted more than 30,000 children in northern Uganda.
UDHR and CROC: (See Appendix 7)
Due to the actions of Joseph Kony a great number of rights given to Children through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention of the Rights of the Child were violated. In the UDHR, Articles 3, 4, 5, 12, 13, 18, 19, 22, 25 and...
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