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Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 - Uganda

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 April 2014
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 - Uganda, 30 April 2014, available at: [accessed 29 October 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Overview: The Government of Uganda effectively collaborated with U.S. counterterrorism efforts, and showed increased political will to apprehend suspected terrorists and disrupt terrorist activity in Uganda. Unfortunately, resource limitations, porous borders, and corruption hampered increased counterterrorism measures and continued to leave Uganda vulnerable to attacks by terrorist groups, particularly al-Shabaab, which killed 76 people, including one American, in Kampala in July 2010.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Uganda passed counterterrorism legislation in 2002, but this legislation does not include key provisions on anti-money laundering and terrorist financing. Although Uganda significantly improved its ability to investigate terrorist acts, additional training and resources are still needed. The Ugandan Police Force (UPF), for instance, needs a modern criminal records management system to replace the outdated system of fingerprint cards police use to identify criminal and terrorist suspects. In late 2013, the Government of Uganda signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the United States to implement a U.S. government-funded Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) in Uganda. Once implemented, the AFIS project will greatly improve the counterterrorism investigation capabilities of the Ugandan police. In addition, with U.S. assistance, Uganda continued to expand its border control system to additional points of entry and upgrade this system to capture biometric information.

There is strong political will to arrest and prosecute terrorists in Uganda. However, a legal challenge in the Constitutional Court over jurisdiction, extradition, and treatment of the 12 individuals arrested for orchestrating the July 2010 bombings was indefinitely delayed.

The UPF Counterterrorism Directorate (CT) is the lead Ugandan law enforcement entity charged with investigating, disrupting, and responding to terrorist incidents. While Ugandan law enforcement officers assigned to this directorate are highly motivated, the UPF overall has limited capacity to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist incidents due to lack of manpower, resource limitations, and poor infrastructure. Moreover, the bulk of the CT police and other law enforcement elements are centrally located in the capital, which limits the effectiveness of law enforcement in the border regions and all areas outside Kampala. Following the Westgate terrorist attack in Nairobi, the UPF conducted a critical examination of its operations to ensure interagency cooperation among various Ugandan government elements should an attack occur in Uganda. The UPF also lacks basic technology, such as secure computer networks, to conduct comprehensive terrorism investigations in the most effective manner, a lesson discovered after the 2010 terrorist attacks in Kampala.

The U.S. government has provided significant counterterrorism assistance to the UPF. Specifically, through the U.S. Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program, which expanded in 2013, Uganda's police received a greater volume than in previous years of training and enabling equipment to build capacity in the areas of investigations, border security, and crisis response.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Uganda is a member of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. With the passage of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) in October 2013, Uganda made significant strides in creating the legal framework to deter, detect, and investigate terrorist financing. The AMLA, which had been pending since 2009, was signed into law on October 2, and brings into force a law that represents an important step in combating money laundering and terrorist financing in Uganda. The AMLA criminalizes money laundering and the aiding and abetting of money laundering, and prescribes penalties, including seizure, freezing, and forfeiture of assets linked to money laundering and terrorist financing. It also creates a regulatory framework aimed at preventing money laundering and the financing of terrorism through a range of institutional measures.

Recognizing the link between money laundering and terrorist financing, the AMLA requires accountable persons – which may include auditors, lawyers, licensed accountants, NGOs, money transfer agents, foreign exchange bureaus, financial institutions, revenue or customs authority – to take measures aimed at controlling terrorist financing, including the detection and reporting of any suspicious transactions possibly linked to terrorist financing. Every accountable person is also required to have a "control officer" charged with overseeing their obligations to report suspicious activities. The Anti-Terrorist Act's list of terrorist organizations includes only four organizations: al-Qa'ida, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), the violent Islamist extremist Allied Democratic Front (ADF) rebel group based in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and one defunct Ugandan rebel group.

The AMLA attempts to strengthen the country's ability to monitor and regulate remittance services and wire transfer data by establishing a Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA), which the government aims to implement by the end of 2014. Financial institutions will need to report any suspicious activity to the FIA. Currently, the Bank of Uganda asks local banks to report "suspicious" transactions, but there is no clear implementation mechanism for enforcement or investigation of potentially suspicious activity. The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the UPF continues to be responsible for investigating financial crimes. However, the CID remains understaffed and poorly trained, with only limited ability to investigate and prosecute money laundering violations. The CID and other directorates within the UPF have also been plagued by allegations of corruption.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Regional and International Cooperation: Uganda is a strong force for regional stability, security cooperation, and counterterrorism efforts. Uganda is an active member of the AU, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Community of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community, and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). Uganda contributed troops to the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), to counter al-Shabaab; continued to pursue the LRA with neighboring countries as part of the AU Regional Task Force; and remained concerned about possible attacks by the ADF. Uganda is a member of the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism and participates in Global Counterterrorism Forum events focused on the Horn of Africa.

Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Uganda's population is generally not receptive to violent extremist ideologies. After the July 2010 terrorist attacks, Ugandan police increased outreach to local Muslim youth considered to be at risk for recruitment and radicalization to violence, and the Inspector General of Police has expressed a desire to expand community policing programs in Uganda to counter violent extremism in addition to combat crime. The U.S. government has worked in collaboration with Ugandan law enforcement to establish an effective community policing program. In addition to funding construction of community policing pavilions in Kampala, the U.S. government has worked with interlocutors at the Police Training Academy in Masindi, Uganda to develop a curriculum that will permit more effective community policing and enable the police to continue to counter radicalization to violence.

Since 2000, Uganda has offered amnesty to over 26,000 former rebel combatants, including members of the LRA and the ADF. Although the key components of Uganda's Amnesty Act expired in May 2012, the Ministry of the Interior reinstated the Amnesty Act in May 2013 for two additional years, following significant outcry among civil society members and northern Ugandan politicians who believed amnesty was still a useful tool to encourage defections from the LRA and positive reintegration of former violent extremists into society.

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