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Uganda-HUMAN RIGHTS





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Uganda Index

Uganda's human rights record deteriorated after Idi Amin seized power in 1971. By the end of the 1970s, it was one of the worst in the world. Several hundred thousand civilians died at the hands of local security forces. In 1986 Museveni pledged to improve Uganda's reputation for human rights. To achieve this goal, the NRM arrested and tried soldiers and civilians for such crimes, and the government worked to improve its reputation for respecting human rights.

In May 1986, NRM officials created a Commission of Inquiry into the Violation of Human Rights to investigate these crimes under all governments since independence until the day before the NRM seized power. The commission examined judicial and other records regarding arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, and executions. Its hearings began in December 1986, when an investigation team and the commission's chief counsel, Edward Ssekandi, began selecting witnesses who would testify in public session. One of the most controversial witnesses, a former NRA political instructor, testified that political opponents were considered traitors.

A lack of resources hampered the commission's performance. Financial and transportation problems initially confined its activities to Kampala; later, these difficulties temporarily brought public hearings to an end. Although a February 1988 Ford Foundation grant enabled the public hearings to resume, the commission's final report was unavailable in late 1990.

In 1987 the president also established the post of inspector general of government (IGG) to investigate individual complaints about human rights abuses committed since the NRM came to power. The inspector general answered only to the president and had the authority to seize documents, subpoena witnesses, and question civil servants as high ranking as cabinet ministers, with presidential approval. Government officials had to cooperate with the IGG or face three-year prison terms or fines. Budgetary problems and staff shortages reduced the inspector general's effectiveness, and there were complaints during the 1988-90 period that his investigations were too slow and produced no results, despite lengthy testimony and evidence by international human rights groups and individual witnesses.

Several nongovernmental human rights organizations also worked to improve conditions in Uganda. The UHRA, for example, has monitored developments in Uganda since the early 1980s through its quarterly publications, The Activist. Initially, UHRA's relations with the government were tense after the 1989 arrest of UHRA Secretary General Paulo Muwanga for comparing the NRM's human rights record to that of the Amin government. Muwanga was subsequently released, and a UHRA report in 1990 generally approved of Museveni's human rights record.

The Uganda Law Society is one of the most vocal advocates for protection of human rights in Uganda. In 1990 a quarter of the country's 800 lawyers belonged to the Uganda Law Society. Apart from speaking out against human rights violations in northern and eastern Uganda, the Uganda Law Society has called for an independent judiciary, an end to illegal arrests and detentions, legal reform, and constitutionalism. A lack of funds and resources has hampered Uganda Law Society activities.

The Ugandan Association of Women Lawyers works to inform rural populations of their legal rights, promote family stability through legal advice and counseling, ensure equal protection under the law for women and children, and promote Ugandan citizens' welfare by emphasizing laws that promote economic development. In March 1988, the association opened a legal clinic to help indigent Ugandans, especially women and children. By August 1990, the clinic had handled more than 1,000 cases dealing with property rights, inheritance, and a variety of family and business concerns.

To counter accusations of human rights abuse, particularly in northern and eastern Uganda, the government has punished members of the NRA convicted of assault or robbery against civilians. Several soldiers have been executed for murder or rape. Military officers even carried out some of these executions in the area where the crimes were committed, inviting local residents to witness the executions. Despite protests by several international organizations, these executions continued in 1990. Uganda's attorney general, George Kanyeihamba, justified the practice, insisting that strict discipline was necessary to maintain order in the military.

Despite these harsh measures, human rights violations continued in parts of northern, eastern, and western Uganda in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In October 1987, for example, witnesses reported that soldiers killed 600 people in Tororo District during an NRA counterinsurgency operation. People in the southwest claimed that the security services killed a number of school children in antigovernment protests and that as many as 200 villagers were shot for refusing to attend a political rally. Murders of people suspected of being rebel sympathizers were also reported.

In early 1989, Dr. H. Benjamin Obonyo, secretary general of the antigovernment Uganda People's Democratic Movement (UPDM), corroborated evidence of atrocities acquired by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations. He also charged that the NRA had "burned or buried civilians alive" in regions of the north and east.

Throughout 1990, according to Amnesty International, the NRA killed a number of unarmed civilians in the districts of Gulu, Tororo, Kumi, and Soroti. Despite several government inquiries, Amnesty International claimed that no NRA personnel were ever charged with these human rights violations or brought to trial. Moreover, more than 1,300 people remained in detention without charge at the end of 1990. Government officials labeled most of these allegations "exaggerated," but it was clear that they were unable to eliminate abuses by the military forces and that Uganda would face mounting international protests engendered by such abuse.

* * *

Several comprehensive studies deal with the evolution of security issues in Uganda. The colonial era is covered in H. Moyse-Bartlett's The King's African Rifles and Uganda, by H. Thomas and R. Scott. A. Omara-Otunnu's Politics and the Military in Uganda, 1890-1985 also assesses the development of the security services. A. Mazrui's Soldiers and Kinsmen in Uganda provides insight into the military's role in society. Conflict Resolution in Uganda, edited by K. Rupesinghe, is a compilation of papers by Ugandan scholars presented at a 1987 conference in Kampala concerning Uganda's quest for peace and stability.

Uganda's tradition of an open and lively press was being revived in the late 1980s. New Vision, Guide, and numerous other local newspapers report and comment on current developments. Numerous government publications also provide valuable information on the history of the security forces, conditions of service, and the effects of political and cultural change on them. Uganda Journal is useful for information about the historical development of the security services. For more recent information on the Ugandan military, see African Defence Journal or the National Resistance Army's journal, The 6th of February. Preindependence information on crime and the criminal justice system is available in the Annual Reports of the Uganda Police Force and the Prison Service. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

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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