Annual Report: Uganda 2007

Report
May 28, 2007

Annual Report: Uganda 2007

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• On 7 March, the offices of the independent radio station Choice FM in Gulu were raided by police. The station's programme manager was arrested and held overnight before being released without charge. Later in March police shut down the radio station, accusing it of operating without a licence, although it had applied for a renewal.

Torture and ill-treatment

There were reports of torture of detainees by police forces and the state security services, who reportedly used "safe houses" where suspects were detained and tortured for days at a time.

• Some of the 22 men accused of treason with Dr Kizza Besigye filed a suit on 1 November against the authorities for torture and ill-treatment while in detention.

• On 4 May, Abdu Smugenyi, a businessman, was reportedly tortured to death by electrocution in a "safe house" in Kampala. He had been arrested in April near Kasese, western Uganda, and accused of involvement with an armed group operating in the DRC.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people

Abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people continued. Homosexuality is a criminal offence in Uganda, and the media, police and other groups, including teachers, targeted and harassed LGBT people.

• In August, The Red Pepper newspaper published a list of men it asserted were gay. Several of those named reported subsequent harassment and ostracism. In September the newspaper published a similar list of 13 women it said were lesbians.

Violence against women

The threat of violence against women remained very high, particularly in the ongoing conflict in the north where many young girls have often been abducted by LRA rebels to serve as "wives" and slaves for combatants. Women and girls in displaced people's camps were also at high risk of domestic violence and of attacks when performing daily tasks such as collecting wood.

• The police stated that at least 989 young girls had been raped in displaced people's camps in the five northern districts between January and July 2006.

Death penalty

No executions following conviction by a civilian court have been carried out since 1999.

Military courts continued to pass death sentences and order executions, although the exact numbers were not clear.

In February the Chief of Defence Forces stated that 26 UPDF soldiers had been sentenced to death and executed between 2003 and 2005 for killing civilians while on duty in northern Uganda.

• A UPDF soldier, Private Abubaker Mugwanate, was sentenced to death by hanging in September for murdering a student.

AI country reports/visits

Statements

• Uganda: Amnesty International calls for an effective alternative to impunity (AI Index: AFR 59/004/2006)

• Uganda: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people targeted (AI Index: AFR 59/006/2006)

• Uganda: Fear for safety/harassment - 13 women (AI Index: AFR 59/007/2006)