Annual Report: Uganda 2013

May 29, 2013

Annual Report: Uganda 2013

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Restrictions on the right to freedom of association by LGBTI groups increased. In February the Minister of Ethics and Integrity forcibly closed a workshop for LGBTI activists in Entebbe, alleging that it was illegal. In June, police arbitrarily closed a workshop and briefly detained the organizers. The workshop, organized by the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, was to teach human rights monitoring skills to LGBTI activists from Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya, as well as Uganda. The Ministry of Internal Affairs threatened to deregister 38 NGOs, accusing them of promoting homosexuality.

International justice

In May, Caesar Acellam Otto, a senior commander in the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), was captured by government forces. The same month, the Minister of Internal Affairs removed a provision in the Amnesty Act 2010 which had granted amnesty to LRA fighters. The law had previously shielded perpetrators of international crimes from prosecution and denied justice to victims.

The government began investigations into Caesar Acellam Otto, but by the end of the year no charges were preferred against him and his detention remained incommunicado. It was unclear whether he and others subsequently captured would be effectively prosecuted by the International Crimes Division of the High Court.

The International Criminal Court's arrest warrants issued in 2005 remained in force for LRA leader Joseph Kony and three LRA commanders. The men were still at large at the end of the year.

Refugees and migrants

The cessation of international protection for Rwandan refugees and asylum-seekers who fled before 1998 was postponed until June 2013. Uganda, Rwanda and UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, held tripartite discussions about implementing the cessation clause.

In March, the Constitutional Court heard a petition to determine whether refugees have the right to acquire Ugandan citizenship. The hearing was repeatedly postponed and remained pending, raising concerns that it might be difficult for Rwandan refugees who do not want to return to Rwanda to obtain alternative status, including citizenship.

Over 40,000 Congolese refugees fled into Uganda because of renewed fighting between the Congolese army and the armed group known as M23, and the general insecurity caused by various armed groups in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from April onwards.

Torture and other ill-treatment

The Anti-Torture Act, which came into force in 2012, prohibits, criminalizes and holds individuals responsible for acts of torture. It expands the definition of torture to include non-state actors and makes information obtained through torture inadmissible in court. If enforced, the Anti-Torture Act would address impunity, enable justice for the victims and reduce torture.

However, torture and other ill-treatment by police remained widespread. Despite investigations by the Uganda Human Rights Commission, no action was taken to hold law enforcement officials responsible for human rights violations to account, or to grant victims and their families an effective remedy.

Death penalty

Civilian and military courts continued to impose the death penalty for capital offences. There were no executions in 2012.