Truth Commission: Commission of Inquiry into the Disappearances of People in Uganda since 25 January, 1971
Duration: 1974
Charter: Commission of Inquiry Act 1914
Commissioners: 4
Report: Not made public

 

Truth Commission: Commission of Inquiry into the Disappearances of People in Uganda since 25 January, 1971

Dates of Operation: 1974 (6 months)

Background: In 1971, a junior army officer named Idi Amin Dada ousted the authoritarian president Milton Obote from power. While Amin was initially welcomed enthusiastically, he quickly dissolved parliament and altered the constitution granting himself absolute power. Subsequently, Ugandan state forces carried out an organized campaign of repression that included killings and disappearances.  

Strong public pressure mounted for an inquiry to be conducted into disappearances occurring during the early years of the Amin government. President Amin established the Commission of Inquiry into the Disappearances of People in Uganda in June 1974. However, it did little to affect the continued brutality of his eight-year rule.

Charter: Commission of Inquiry Act 1914 (87KB-PDF), June 30, 1974, in presidential legal notice no. 2. It can also be found in Appendix 8 contained in section 5 of the report (pages 115-118 of the PDF).

Mandate: The Commission of Inquiry into the Disappearances of People in Uganda was to investigate and report on disappearances in the first years of the Amin government from January 25, 1971 until 1974.

Commissioners and Structure: The commission was comprised of four members, all men. It was chaired by an expatriate Pakistani judge, and included two Ugandan police superintendents and a Ugandan army officer.

Report: Although most hearings were public, a report was never published. A confidential copy was handed over to Idi Amin.

Findings:

Conclusions

  • 308 cases of disappearance were presented to the commission.
  • The commission concluded that the Public Security Unit and the National Investigation Bureau, both of which had been set up by President Amin, bore the main responsibility for the disappearances.

Recommendations

  • The commission recommended reforming the police and the armed forces. It suggested that law enforcement officials be trained in human rights standards.

Subsequent Developments:

Reforms

  • The four commissioners were targeted by the state in reprisal for their work.

Special Notes: The commission is known as the first truth commission.

Sources:

Carver, Richard. "Called to Account: How African Governments Investigate Human Rights Violations." African Affairs 89, no. 356 (July 1, 1990): 391-415.

Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation. "Justice in Perspective - Truth and Justice Commission, Africa - Uganda." Available at http://www.justiceinperspective.org.za/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=37&Itemid=19 (accessed June 25, 2008).

Hayner, Priscilla B. "Fifteen Truth Commissions-1974 to 1994: A Comparative Study." Human Rights Quarterly 16, no. 4 (1994): 597-655.

Hayner, Priscilla B. Unspeakable Truths: Facing the Challenge of Truth Commissions. New York: Routledge, 2002.

Peterson, Trudy Huskamp. Final Acts: A Guide to Preserving the Records of Truth Commissions. Washington, D.C.; Baltimore: Woodrow Wilson Center Press; Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005. Available at http://www.wilsoncenter.org/book/final-acts-guide-to-preserving-the-records-truth-commissions (accessed October 26, 2008).

TRIAL (Track Impunity Always). "Truth Commission in Uganda." (accessed June 11, 2009). 


 

Related Publications

An African Activist Builds Peace with Youth—and Refugees

An African Activist Builds Peace with Youth—and Refugees

Thursday, June 11, 2020

By: James Rupert

Gatwal Gatkuoth was about 11 years old when war in Sudan forced him to flee hundreds of miles, alone, to Uganda as a refugee. Now he works to end wars. When COVID struck Uganda, the nation’s sudden shutdown caught Gatkuoth touring remote refugee camps, seeking ways to help Africa’s largest refugee population survive the pandemic. So when the U.N. Security Council called him weeks ago to ask his advice on improving efforts to build peace, Gatkuoth’s briefing over an unstable cellphone line came straight from a fragile front line of human need.

Type: Blog

Global Health; Youth

The Missing Piece: Fathers’ Role in Stemming Youth Radicalization

The Missing Piece: Fathers’ Role in Stemming Youth Radicalization

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

By: Jeremy Moore

In countries across East Africa, youth radicalization by violent extremist groups is an ongoing threat. But the strategies and methods used to address it have been relatively narrow and the role of parents—especially fathers—is not well understood. In order to build better approaches to preventing youth extremism, we need to examine what personal and cultural factors are holding East African fathers back from engaging in prevention efforts, as well as how we can empower them to overcome these hurdles and take on a more pivotal role.

Type: Blog

Violent Extremism; Youth

China’s Soft Power in Africa or Real Corporate Accountability?

China’s Soft Power in Africa or Real Corporate Accountability?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

By: Virginia Harper Ho

China is the fourth largest foreign investor in Africa—more than three thousand Chinese firms operate there. An important but often overlooked aspect of this investment is the emergence of Beijing’s evolving corporate social responsibility policies and how they are applied, especially in Africa, which is what this Peace Brief explores.

Type: Peace Brief

Economics & Environment; Global Policy

View All Publications