Annual Report: Uganda 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Uganda 2010

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  • Kampala-based journalist Robert Kalundi Sserumaga was arbitrarily arrested, detained and tortured because of comments he made during a radio talk show about the tension between the government and the Buganda Kingdom, and the riots. He sustained serious injuries as a result of the torture. He was subsequently charged with sedition. The case remained pending in court.

General attacks by the authorities on freedom of expression and press freedom continued. Several criminal cases involving journalists charged with criminal libel, sedition and "the publication of false news" remained pending in court.

The government did not withdraw the Regulation of Interception of Communications Bill, 2007 or respond to human rights concerns raised about it. If passed into law, the Bill would significantly restrict the right to freedom of expression.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

In April, a joint communiqué signed by the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, and the governments of Uganda and Rwanda indicated the governments' intention to repatriate about 20,000 Rwandan refugees living in Uganda. The communiqué stated that assistance to Rwandan refugees would end on 31 July 2009. The deadline for repatriation was later extended to the end of September. Affected refugees complained that the withdrawal of humanitarian and other assistance, the lack of procedures to determine any well-founded fears of persecution upon return, and the failure to provide alternative durable solutions under the UN Refugee Convention process created conditions that would lead to forced return. Few refugees voluntarily registered for the exercise and returned home.

Dozens of refugees in refugee settlement camps and urban areas reported instances of arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention and torture or other illtreatment by government authorities. Perpetrators were rarely brought to justice.

Discrimination - lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people

In September, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill sponsored by a member of the ruling party was published and listed for consideration by Parliament. In light of existing laws that prohibit "carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature" and the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, the Bill, if enacted into law, would further criminalize LGBT people and perpetuate discrimination against and stigmatization of them.

The Bill provides for extremely punitive measures, including the death penalty for the offence of "aggravated homosexuality" and life imprisonment for the offence of "homosexuality", and seeks to introduce other new offences such as "the failure to report the offence of homosexuality". In addition, the Bill aims to criminalize "promotion of homosexuality", which would significantly hamper the work of human rights defenders and curtail the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly in relation to advocacy on LGBT rights. The Bill remained pending before Parliament at the end of the year.

LGBT people and rights activists continued to face arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention, torture and other ill-treatment by police and other security personnel.

Death penalty

In January, Uganda's highest court - the Supreme Court - upheld a 2005 judgement of the Constitutional Court that the mandatory application of the death penalty is unconstitutional. The Court also decided that death sentences that courts had been obliged to impose, which applied to the vast majority of more than 400 appellants in the case, should be commuted to life imprisonment. However, the Supreme Court also ruled that the death penalty remains constitutional. Civilian and military courts continued to impose the death penalty. There were no executions.

Amnesty International visits/reports

Amnesty International delegates conducted research in Uganda in January, August, September and October.