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Uganda-CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM





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Uganda Index

When Britain assumed control of Uganda, the judicial system consisted of a number of local authorities, tribal chiefs, and kin group elders, who worked primarily to enforce local customary law. Islamic law was also practiced in areas of northern Uganda. During the twentieth century, British jurisprudence was gradually imposed, spreading more quickly across the south than the north. At independence the resulting legal system consisted of the High Court, which heard cases involving murder, rape, treason, and other crimes punishable by death or life imprisonment; and subordinate magistrates' courts, which tried cases for crimes punishable by shorter terms of imprisonment, fines, or whipping. Magistrates' court decisions could be appealed to the High Court. All courts had the privilege of rendering "competent verdicts," whereby a person accused of one offense could also be convicted of a minor, related offense.

After independence the director of public prosecutions (DPP), appointed by the president, prosecuted criminal cases. Under the attorney general's direction, the DPP initiated and conducted criminal proceedings other than courts-martial. The DPP also could appoint a public prosecutor for a specific case. In some cases, a police official was the prosecutor, and the DPP reviewed and commented on the trial proceedings.

The legal system virtually broke down during the 1970s, in part because Amin undermined the judicial system when it attempted to oppose him. In March 1971, for example, when Amin granted the security forces the right to "search and arrest," they implemented the decree to harass political opponents. The courts were then blocked from rendering verdicts against security agents through a second decree granting government officials immunity from prosecution. By absolving soldiers and police of any legal accountability, Amin unleashed a reign of terror on the civilian population that lasted eight years.

The end of Amin's regime brought no significant improvement in the criminal justice system. In an effort to reassert the rule of law, in June 1984 the government prohibited the army from arresting civilians suspected of opposition to the government, and it allowed prisoners, for the first time in over a decade, to appeal to the government for their release from prison. The army ignored the 1984 law, however, and continued to perpetrate crimes against the civilian population.

When Museveni became president in 1986, he pledged to end the army's tyranny and reform the country's criminal justice system (see Judicial System, ch. 4). He succeeded in granting greater autonomy to the courts, but the NRA also arrested several thousand suspected opponents during counterinsurgency operations in northern and eastern Uganda. In late 1988, the NRC passed a constitutional amendment giving the president the power to declare any region of the country to be in a "state of insurgency." Subsequent legislation allowed the government to establish separate courts in these areas, authorized the military to arrest insurgents, permitted magistrates to suspend the rules of evidence to allow hearsay and uncorroborated evidence in the courtroom, and shifted the burden of proof from the accuser to the accused.

Data as of December 1990



BackgroundThe colonial boundaries created by Britain to delimit Uganda grouped together a wide range of ethnic groups with different political systems and cultures. These differences prevented the establishment of a working political community after independence was achieved in 1962. The dictatorial regime of Idi AMIN (1971-79) was responsible for the deaths of some 300,000 opponents; guerrilla war and human rights abuses under Milton OBOTE (1980-85) claimed at least another 100,000 lives. The rule of Yoweri MUSEVENI since 1986 has brought relative stability and economic growth to Uganda. During the 1990s, the government promulgated non-party presidential and legislative elections. In January 2009, Uganda assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2009-10 term.
LocationEastern Africa, west of Kenya
Area(sq km)total: 241,038 sq km
land: 197,100 sq km
water: 43,938 sq km
Geographic coordinates1 00 N, 32 00 E
Land boundaries(km)total: 2,698 km
border countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo 765 km, Kenya 933 km, Rwanda 169 km, Sudan 435 km, Tanzania 396 km

Coastline(km)0 km (landlocked)

Climatetropical; generally rainy with two dry seasons (December to February, June to August); semiarid in northeast

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Lake Albert 621 m
highest point: Margherita Peak on Mount Stanley 5,110 m
Natural resourcescopper, cobalt, hydropower, limestone, salt, arable land, gold
Land use(%)arable land: 21.57%
permanent crops: 8.92%
other: 69.51% (2005)

Irrigated land(sq km)90 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources(cu km)66 cu km (1970)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 0.3 cu km/yr (43%/17%/40%)
per capita: 10 cu m/yr (2002)
Natural hazardsNA
Environment - current issuesdraining of wetlands for agricultural use; deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; water hyacinth infestation in Lake Victoria; widespread poaching
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography - notelandlocked; fertile, well-watered country with many lakes and rivers
Population32,369,558
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2009 est.)
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 50% (male 8,152,830/female 8,034,366)
15-64 years: 47.9% (male 7,789,209/female 7,703,143)
65 years and over: 2.1% (male 286,693/female 403,317) (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 15 years
male: 14.9 years
female: 15.1 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)2.692% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)47.84 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)12.09 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)-8.83 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Urbanization(%)urban population: 13% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 4.4% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 64.82 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 68.46 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 61.07 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 52.72 years
male: 51.66 years
female: 53.81 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)6.77 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Ugandan(s)
adjective: Ugandan
Ethnic groups(%)Baganda 16.9%, Banyakole 9.5%, Basoga 8.4%, Bakiga 6.9%, Iteso 6.4%, Langi 6.1%, Acholi 4.7%, Bagisu 4.6%, Lugbara 4.2%, Bunyoro 2.7%, other 29.6% (2002 census)

Religions(%)Roman Catholic 41.9%, Protestant 42% (Anglican 35.9%, Pentecostal 4.6%, Seventh Day Adventist 1.5%), Muslim 12.1%, other 3.1%, none 0.9% (2002 census)
Languages(%)English (official national language, taught in grade schools, used in courts of law and by most newspapers and some radio broadcasts), Ganda or Luganda (most widely used of the Niger-Congo languages, preferred for native language publications in the capital and may be taught in school), other Niger-Congo languages, Nilo-Saharan languages, Swahili, Arabic

Country nameconventional long form: Republic of Uganda
conventional short form: Uganda
Government typerepublic
Capitalname: Kampala
geographic coordinates: 0 19 N, 32 25 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions80 districts; Abim, Adjumani, Amolatar, Amuria, Amuru, Apac, Arua, Budaka, Bududa, Bugiri, Bukedea, Bukwa, Bulisa, Bundibugyo, Bushenyi, Busia, Butaleja, Dokolo, Gulu, Hoima, Ibanda, Iganga, Isingiro, Jinja, Kaabong, Kabale, Kabarole, Kaberamaido, Kalangala, Kaliro, Kampala, Kamuli, Kamwenge, Kanungu, Kapchorwa, Kasese, Katakwi, Kayunga, Kibale, Kiboga, Kiruhara, Kisoro, Kitgum, Koboko, Kotido, Kumi, Kyenjojo, Lira, Luwero, Lyantonde, Manafwa, Maracha, Masaka, Masindi, Mayuge, Mbale, Mbarara, Mityana, Moroto, Moyo, Mpigi, Mubende, Mukono, Nakapiripirit, Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Namutumba, Nebbi, Ntungamo, Oyam, Pader, Pallisa, Rakai, Rukungiri, Sembabule, Sironko, Soroti, Tororo, Wakiso, Yumbe
Constitution8 October 1995; amended in 2005
note: the amendments in 2005 removed presidential term limits and legalized a multiparty political system

Legal systemin 1995, the government restored the legal system to one based on English common law and customary law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations

Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: President Lt. Gen. Yoweri Kaguta MUSEVENI (since seizing power 26 January 1986); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Lt. Gen. Yoweri Kaguta MUSEVENI (since seizing power 26 January 1986); Prime Minister Apolo NSIBAMBI (since 5 April 1999); note - the prime minister assists the president in the supervision of the cabinet
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president from among elected legislators
elections: president reelected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 23 February 2006 (next to be held in February 2011)
election results: Lt. Gen. Yoweri Kaguta MUSEVENI elected president; percent of vote - Lt. Gen. Yoweri Kaguta MUSEVENI 59.3%, Kizza BESIGYE 37.4%, other 3.3%

Legislative branchunicameral National Assembly (332 seats; 215 members elected by popular vote, 104 nominated by legally established special interest groups [women 79, army 10, disabled 5, youth 5, labor 5], 13 ex officio members; serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 23 February 2006 (next to be held in February 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NRM 205, FDC 37, UPC 9, DP 8, CP 1, JEEMA 1, independents 37, other 34

Judicial branchCourt of Appeal (judges are appointed by the president and approved by the legislature); High Court (judges are appointed by the president)

Political pressure groups and leadersLord's Resistance Army or LRA [Joseph KONY]; Young Parliamentary Association [Henry BANYENZAKI]; Parliamentary Advocacy Forum or PAFO; National Association of Women Organizations in Uganda or NAWOU [Florence NEKYON]; The Ugandan Coalition for Political Accountability to Women or COPAW
International organization participationAfDB, AU, C, COMESA, EAC, EADB, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, PCA, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIS, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Flag descriptionsix equal horizontal bands of black (top), yellow, red, black, yellow, and red; a white disk is superimposed at the center and depicts a red-crested crane (the national symbol) facing the hoist side

Economy - overviewUganda has substantial natural resources, including fertile soils, regular rainfall, sizable mineral deposits of copper, cobalt, gold, and other minerals, and recently discovered oil. Agriculture is the most important sector of the economy, employing over 80% of the work force. Coffee accounts for the bulk of export revenues. Since 1986, the government - with the support of foreign countries and international agencies - has acted to rehabilitate and stabilize the economy by undertaking currency reform, raising producer prices on export crops, increasing prices of petroleum products, and improving civil service wages. The policy changes are especially aimed at dampening inflation and boosting production and export earnings. During 1990-2001, the economy turned in a solid performance based on continued investment in the rehabilitation of infrastructure, improved incentives for production and exports, reduced inflation, gradually improved domestic security, and the return of exiled Indian-Ugandan entrepreneurs. Growth continues to be solid, despite variability in the price of coffee, Uganda's principal export, and a consistent upturn in Uganda's export markets. In 2000, Uganda qualified for enhanced Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief worth $1.3 billion and Paris Club debt relief worth $145 million. These amounts combined with the original HIPC debt relief added up to about $2 billion.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$40.08 billion (2008 est.)
$37 billion (2007 est.)
$34.21 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$14.57 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate(%)8.3% (2008 est.)
8.2% (2007 est.)
7.1% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$1,300 (2008 est.)
$1,200 (2007 est.)
$1,200 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 21.5%
industry: 24.6%
services: 53.9% (2008 est.)
Labor force14.54 million (2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: 82%
industry: 5%
services: 13% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate(%)NA%
Population below poverty line(%)35% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 34.1% (2005)
Distribution of family income - Gini index45.7 (2002)
37.4 (1996)
Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)23.2% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $2.621 billion
expenditures: $2.939 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)12.1% (2008 est.)
6.1% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$1.488 billion (31 December 2008)
$1.347 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money$1.485 billion (31 December 2008)
$1.258 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit$1.464 billion (31 December 2008)
$640.3 million (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares$NA (31 December 2008)
$NA (31 December 2007)
$116.3 million (31 December 2006)
Economic aid - recipient$1.198 billion (2005)

Public debt(% of GDP)18.8% of GDP (2008 est.)
73.9% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - productscoffee, tea, cotton, tobacco, cassava (tapioca), potatoes, corn, millet, pulses, cut flowers; beef, goat meat, milk, poultry
Industriessugar, brewing, tobacco, cotton textiles; cement, steel production

Industrial production growth rate(%)7% (2008 est.)

Current account balance-$1.088 billion (2008 est.)
-$744.7 million (2007 est.)
Exports$2.688 billion (2008 est.)
$1.686 billion (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities(%)coffee, fish and fish products, tea, cotton, flowers, horticultural products; gold
Exports - partners(%)Sudan 14.3%, Kenya 9.5%, Switzerland 9%, Rwanda 7.9%, UAE 7.4%, Democratic Republic of the Congo 7.3%, UK 6.9%, Netherlands 4.7%, Germany 4.4% (2008)
Imports$3.98 billion (2008 est.)
$2.983 billion (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities(%)capital equipment, vehicles, petroleum, medical supplies; cereals
Imports - partners(%)UAE 11.4%, Kenya 11.3%, India 10.4%, China 8.1%, South Africa 6.7%, Japan 5.9% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$2.301 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$2.56 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external$1.835 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$1.498 billion (31 December 2007 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$NA
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$NA
Exchange ratesUgandan shillings (UGX) per US dollar - 1,658.1 (2008 est.), 1,685.8 (2007), 1,834.9 (2006), 1,780.7 (2005), 1,810.3 (2004)

Currency (code)Ugandan shilling (UGX)

Telephones - main lines in use168,500 (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular8.555 million (2008)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: seriously inadequate; mobile cellular service is increasing rapidly, but the number of main lines is still deficient; e-mail and Internet services are available
domestic: intercity traffic by wire, microwave radio relay, and radiotelephone communication stations, fixed and mobile-cellular systems for short-range traffic
international: country code - 256; satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) and 1 Inmarsat; analog links to Kenya and Tanzania
Internet country code.ug
Internet users2.5 million (2008)
Airports35 (2009)
Roadways(km)total: 70,746 km
paved: 16,272 km
unpaved: 54,474 km (2003)

Ports and terminalsEntebbe, Jinja, Port Bell
Military branchesUganda Peoples Defense Force (UPDF): Army (includes Marine Unit), Air Force (2007)
Military service age and obligation(years of age)18-26 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military duty; 18-30 years of age for professionals; 9-year service obligation; the government has stated that recruitment below 18 years of age could occur with proper consent and that "no person under the apparent age of 13 years shall be enrolled in the armed forces"; Ugandan citizenship and secondary education required (2009)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 6,532,894
females age 16-49: 6,352,416 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 3,996,597
females age 16-49: 3,899,717 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 399,134
female: 395,505 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)2.2% of GDP (2006)
Disputes - internationalUganda is subject to armed fighting among hostile ethnic groups, rebels, armed gangs, militias, and various government forces that extend across its borders; Uganda hosts 209,860 Sudanese, 27,560 Congolese, and 19,710 Rwandan refugees, while Ugandan refugees as well as members of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) seek shelter in southern Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Garamba National Park; LRA forces have also attacked Kenyan villages across the border

Refugees and internally displaced personsrefugees (country of origin): 215,700 (Sudan); 28,880 (Democratic Republic of Congo); 24,900 (Rwanda)
IDPs: 1.27 million (350,000 IDPs returned in 2006 following ongoing peace talks between the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda) (2007)
Electricity - production(kWh)2.256 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 0.9%
hydro: 99.1%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)2.068 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)30 million kWh (2007)
Electricity - imports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production(bbl/day)bbl/day NA
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)13,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)13,090 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves(bbl)0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production(cu m)0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m (2008)
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)5.4% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS940,000 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths77,000 (2007 est.)
Major infectious diseasesdegree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria, plague, and African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness)
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
animal contact disease: rabies (2009)
Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 66.8%
male: 76.8%
female: 57.7% (2002 census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)(years)total: 10 years
male: 11 years
female: 10 years (2004)
Education expenditures(% of GDP)5.2% of GDP (2004)








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