Annual Report: Uganda 2008

Report
May 28, 2008

Annual Report: Uganda 2008

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  • In August, members of the RRU arrested 41 individuals, including Ugandans and foreign nationals, in an operation ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in Kampala in November. During the arrest, police officers beat some of the detainees with batons and rifles butts, breaking one person’s arm. The 41 were held in incommunicado detention for five days, with 23 individuals held together in a 3m x 3m cell.
  • On 29 October, police in Apac district arrested and detained about 30 people and allegedly tortured at least 22 of them while questioning them over an alleged theft of cattle. Up to 20 police officers took turns to beat the detainees using sticks while questioning them. Four of the men suffered serious injury during the beating, one of whom was beaten until his trousers were torn and soaked with blood.
  • In November, Hassan Nkalubo, a resident of Mbale district, was allegedly detained and tortured by the RRU based in Mbale. He was accused of illegal possession of an AK 47 rifle, and was critically ill as a result of his treatment.

Violence against women

An official government study published in August confirmed a high prevalence of violence against women, including rape and domestic violence, throughout the country. In northern Uganda, despite the cessation of hostilities in 2006, women and girls continued to face violence by government soldiers, LRA rebels who returned to their communities, law enforcement officials and members of their families and communities. The weak and ineffective justice system left female victims of sexual and gender-based violence traumatized and without any recourse to justice, legal, medical and psychological support.

Discrimination – lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people

Abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people continued. Homosexuality remained a criminal offence. Following a high-profile media campaign by local LGBT organizations in August, government officials, the media, church groups and other groups, including teachers, condemned LGBT people and called for them to be arrested.

  • In September, The Red Pepper newspaper published a list of people it asserted were gay and lesbian and published their workplaces and home addresses. Some of the individuals on the list subsequently complained of harassment and discrimination.

Death penalty

Civilian courts continued to impose the death penalty for capital offences. No executions following convictions by a civilian court have been carried out since 1999. In September the Prisons Services reported that at least 520 inmates were on death row in Uganda. Military courts continued to hand down death sentences and order executions of soldiers in the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF). The exact number of soldiers put to death under military law remained unclear.

  • On 20 September, a UPDF soldier, Corporal Geoffrey Apamuko, was sentenced to death by hanging for murder.

In October, the government’s Internal Affairs Minister, Dr Ruhukana Rugunda, ruled out the imposition of the death penalty for LRA leaders if they were tried in Ugandan courts for crimes committed during the conflict in northern Uganda.