United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1995 - Uganda, 30 January 1996, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa3d24.html [accessed 5 September 2015]
This 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.
UGANDA President Yoweri Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM) continued to rule Uganda through the acting parliament known as the National Resistance Council (NRC) and a Cabinet since taking power in 1986. The President dominated the Government, the NRC, and the extended transition process to constitutional government. The Constituent Assembly (CA), elected in March 1994, completed its work in August and the new Constitution was promulgated in October 1995. The Constitution formally extended the one-party state under the NRM for an additional 5 years, with a referendum in the fourth year on whether Uganda should adopt a multiparty system. Elections for the first Parliament and President under the new Constitution were postponed until 1996. The judiciary is generally independent. Following the promulgation of the Constitution, the army (formerly the National Resistance Army) was renamed the Uganda People's Defense Force (UPDF) and placed under direct civilian authority. The UPDF remains the key internal and external security force. In a phased demobilization program, the UPDF reduced its numbers from 90,000 in 1990 to approximately 50,000 in 1995. The army, along with local defense units (LDU's) assists the police in rural areas. The LDU's continued to operate without a clear legal mandate. The army also continued to use homeguard forces to help counter insurgent activities in northern Uganda. At mid-year the army revamped the homeguard policy to put the force more directly under UPDF control. At year's end, the Internal Security Organization (ISO) remained under the authority of the President, and although primarily an intelligence-gathering body, the ISO also has the power to arrest and detain people. The police, the UPDF, and LDU's committed human rights abuses. Two rebel groups increased the number and intensity of their attacks against the Government and civilians in the northern part of the country. Assisted by Sudan, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) under Joseph Kony carried out larger scale operations than in the past. In the northwest, the West Nile Bank Front under Col. Juma Oris began laying landmines on roads in July. Both the LRA and the West Nile Bank Front committed human rights abuses. Primarily based on agriculture, the economy showed strong growth--about 10 percent--in 1994-95. Coffee remained the chief export crop and foreign exchange earner, but modest increases in tobacco, cotton, and tea exports also contributed to the improved outlook. In the face of massive rural poverty and an estimated gross national product of $185 per capita, the Government continued to implement a tough economic reform program. Uganda also continued to depend heavily on foreign aid, which amounted to approximately 50 percent of government spending in 1994-95. The Government's human rights record improved incrementally, but numerous, serious problems remain. Citizens will not be able to exercise the right to change their government until presidential and parliamentary elections are held in 1996. The new Constitution extended previously existing restrictions on political party activities for an additional 5 years, effectively limiting freedom of assembly and association. The Government continued to restrict freedom of speech and of the press through outdated sedition laws and the detention of journalists, as well as by adopting a press law that stipulates licensing of journalists and a censorship board. Police and LDU's sometimes tortured criminal suspects, particularly upon arrest. Beatings during arrest or interrogation were also common. In a marked improvement over previous years, there were fewer reports of abuses against civilians by the UPDF in its counter-insurgency operations. The Government took measures to improve the discipline and training of security forces, and in some instances punished security officials. Despite these efforts, police discipline remained a problem. Prison conditions remain harsh. Prolonged detention continues, although the Government took steps to address the problem. Discrimination against women, domestic violence, and the rape of women and children remain serious problems. The LRA repeatedly carried out egregious violations of human rights, including the murder, rape, mutilation and abduction of hundreds of civilians. In April the LRA massacred over 200 civilians in Atiak. The West Nile Bank Front also committed serious human rights abuses.
Respect for Human Rights
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
There were no reports of politically targeted killings. There were a few reported incidents in which police, UPDF, and LDU personnel killed criminal suspects, sometimes after torturing them. In July LDU officers shot and killed a secondary school student in police custody in Mityana. In April in Kabarole district, credible reports indicate that Charles Byalega died in detention, after being tortured by UPDF officials. Police initiated an investigation of the Mityana case, and the UPDF reportedly investigated the Byalega case, but the results were not made public. Police also killed one person during a strike at the Lugazi Sugar Corporation in June (see Section 6.a.); one officer was charged with murder in connection with the incident. Both the UPDF and insurgent forces committed a number of extrajudicial killings (see Section l.g.).
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
UPDF officials and police commonly beat and sometimes tortured suspected criminals, usually at the time of arrest or interrogation, often for the purpose of forcing confessions. LDU's more often than police are accused of such mistreatment of prisoners and detainees. Although LDU's have no training or legal authority to make arrests, they continued to do so in rural areas. The Government investigated some cases and tried and punished some offenders. There were instances of mobs attacking suspected thieves and other offenders caught committing crimes. These mobs engaged in stoning, beatings, and other forms of mistreatment, such as tying the suspect's wrists and ankles together behind the back. The authorities rarely prosecuted persons engaged in administering mob justice. Prison conditions remain harsh, due primarily to lack of funds. Uganda maintains two civilian prison systems: one state-funded and run by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and a second rural-based system under the Ministry of Local Government. Conditions are particularly harsh in the 133 local prisons which receive no central government funding. Although the law states that civilians are not to be held in military barracks, some civilians were held in military prisons. Both civilian and military prisons have a very high mortality rate from overcrowding, diseases spread by unsanitary conditions, malnutrition, and AIDS, a disease which is pandemic among the general population. Some juveniles are kept in prison with adults. Women have segregated wings in the prisons, with female staff, and rape does not appear to be a problem among female prisoners. Pretrial detainees comprise over one-half of the prison population. In July, of a total of approximately 11,000 prisoners in the central system, 4,000 had been convicted, and 7,000 were in pretrial detention. The average time in pretrial detention has declined, however, from about 5 years in 1993 to about 2 years in 1995. The Government has addressed the problem of lengthy detention by creating District Committees to review the cases of all prisoners to expedite their trials. It has also begun a 3-year program to repair prison facilities, water and sanitation systems, and has increased the budgetary allocations for food and uniforms. The Government permitted full access to prisons by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and local nongovernmental organizations (NGO's), principally the Foundation for Human Rights Initiatives (FHRI). Prison authorities require advance notification of visits, a process that is often subject to administrative delays.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
Under the law, a suspect must be charged within 24 hours of arrest and be brought to trial or released on bail within 240 days (480 days for a capital offense). The authorities enforced neither requirement. Other extant laws, such as the Public Order and Security Act of 1967 (the Detention Order), provide for unlimited detention without charge, but these laws have never been invoked by the NRM Government. Legal and human rights groups sharply criticized the excessive length of detention without trial, in many cases amounting to several years. Acknowledging the problem, the Constituent Assembly reduced the length of detention to a maximum of 120 days (360 days for a capital offense) in the new Constitution. The exact number of political detainees and prisoners is not known. One of the largest such groups was 130 people detained by the UPDF and police at Gulu, although this group is known to have included military discipline cases. By year's end, less than 20 political detainees remained among the prisoners at Gulu with the other political detainees having been released. The ICRC was allowed access to the Gulu detainees, although during the last 4 months of the year there was a delay in the Government's granting of permission for a visit. The Government also detained three journalists, one of whom died and two of whom were charged with sedition (see Section 2.a.). Approximately 300 former captives of the LRA (all civilians) voluntarily remain in a camp run by international NGO's. The Government does not use exile as a mean of political control. A presidential amnesty for former rebels remains in effect although those who return may be prosecuted for criminal acts they may have committed in the past. Several prominent Ugandans returned from exile in 1995, including Mustafa Idrissa, Vice President under Idi Amin; Masette Kuuya, Picho Owiny and Aliro Omara, former ministers under the second Obote government; and Colonel Gad Wilson Toko, former Vice President of the Military Council in 1980.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
While the judiciary is generally independent, the President has extensive legal powers, including the power to appoint the four members of the Judicial Service Commission which makes recommendations on High Court and Supreme Court appointments. The commission must concur in the dismissal of a magistrate. Under the new Constitution, Parliament will approve the appointment of the members of the Judicial Service Commission. The court system consists of magistrates' courts, the High Court, and a Supreme Court. The new Constitution, promulgated in October, added a Court of Appeal but at year's end it had not been established. The military maintains an independent system of courts-martial for military offenders. In addition to the regular court system, the local village councils have the authority to settle civil disputes, including land ownership and payment of debts. These courts, often the only ones available to villagers, frequently exceed their authority by hearing criminal cases, including murder and rape. Council decisions may be appealed in magistrates courts, but often there are no records made of the case at the village level, and many defendants are not aware of their right to appeal. The civilian judicial system contains procedural safeguards, including the granting of bail and appeals to higher courts. The right to a fair trial has been circumscribed in recent years by an inadequate system of judicial administration and resources resulting in a serious backlog of cases. Criminal cases may take 2 years or more to reach the courts. The Kampala High Court's efficiency improved, as it heard as many cases as possible to alleviate delays. The Buganda Road Court began dismissing cases after 6 months if prosecutors were unable to compile sufficient evidence for trial, setting an example for other courts. Many defendants cannot afford legal counsel. The Government provides attorneys for indigent defendants only for capital offenses. The Uganda Law Society (ULS) operates legal aid clinics in four regional offices and assists military defendants as well as civilians. The military court system does not assure the right to a fair trial. Although the accused has the right to legal counsel, military defense attorneys are often untrained and may be assigned by the military command, which also appoints the prosecutor and the adjudicating officer. The sentence passed by a military court, which may invoke the death penalty, may be appealed to the high command, but not to the High or Supreme Courts. The ULS petitioned the Government to address the lack of an appeals process in military courts but received no response. The ULS gave the Government notice of its intent to pursue litigation on the issue in August. For the first time in several years, the Government arrested and charged persons with treason. In the past, numerous human rights abuses were committed in connection with treason cases, including political detention, detention without charge, and mistreatment of prisoners. During the year, the Government charged at least 74 people with treason and related crimes. Of the 74 people formally charged with treason, 63 were accused of attempting to overthrow the Government by establishing a rebel training camp in Buseruka and ferrying arms to western Uganda (see Section l.g.). Fifty-eight of the 63 were arrested and charged on August 3. Two UPDF soldiers were charged with treason on May 29. Two other UPDF soldiers were charged with treason and terrorism on July 21, as was businessman Salim Okulla. Joseph Lusse, a prominent Kampala businessman, was charged with treason on May 9. Francis Kilama, a radio telephone operator with Uganda National Parks, was charged with treason on June 2. At year's end, the cases had not yet been brought to trial. The number of political prisoners is unknown. The courts continued to process the appeals in approximately eight cases of past politically motivated treason convictions. In March Lieutenant Colonel Ahmed Kashillingi, a former UPDF officer charged with treason, was acquitted by the High Court. Willy Mukama, Willy Logoko, and Sheik Kinyiri, who were convicted of treason in 1989, completed their prison sentences and were released in March. In May the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of Bright Gabula Africa, who was convicted of treason in 1993 for plotting to overthrow the Government between 1987 and 1990.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The Government does not generally intrude in the privacy, family, or home of citizens. Prison officials routinely censor the mail of prisoners. The law requires that the police have search warrants before entering private homes or offices, and the police generally observed this law in practice. However, the police sometimes improperly searched homes and vehicles without prior warrants.
g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal Conflicts
With an increase in insurgent activity, reports of violations of humanitarian law increased dramatically compared to previous years. Rebel groups committed a greater number of abuses and on a larger scale than those committed by government forces. In February in Buseruka, Hoima district, the UPDF pursued a group of rebels who had killed two officers in an attack on a police station. In the ensuing engagement at the rebels' camp, credible reports indicate that the UPDF used excessive force and killed at least 92 rebels. Local authorities later arrested other members of the group, who had escaped from the camp with rifles and grenades. The Government completed an investigation into the incident, but did not make the results public. In April and May, police and the Internal Security Organization were successful in breaking up the National Democratic Alliance, led by former army major Herbert Itongwa. The group had kidnaped the Minister of Health in March and assassinated a police commander in February. According to a government spokesperson, the majority of the group's 16 members were either arrested or killed during a series of armed confrontations between the police, LDU's, and the UPDF. At year's end, Itongwa was still at large, but four members of the group were arrested. In December three were charged with plotting to overthrow the Government and remained in remand in Luzira Prison at the end of 1995. In north-central Uganda, the Lord's Resistance Army, an insurgent group under the leadership of Joseph Kony, continued to kill, maim, rape, and abduct large numbers of civilians. They terrorized civilians with tactics that included cutting off noses and ears and breaking legs with hammers. In April approximately 250 soldiers of the LRA attacked the villages of Lokung and Atiak and massacred over 200 villagers. They also destroyed 360 homes and abducted more than one 100 children. In July and August, in a series of raids throughout the district of Kitgum, about 500 LRA rebels abducted hundreds of young people, some, at least, reportedly to be traded as slaves for weapons in Sudan. LRA rebels planted landmines on roads in Gulu and Kitgum District throughout the year, killing and wounding dozens of civilians. Mines on the few roads to the border hinder the transport of food to more than 100,000 Sudanese refugees and displaced persons in camps near the border. In the northwestern region bordering Sudan and Zaire, a new insurgent group, the West Nile Bank Front under Juma Oris, laid landmines on major roads used for relief shipments to refugee camps as well as for local commerce.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, but the Government restricts these rights in practice. Open debate occurred in the CA and the NRC, as well as in most public forums. However, following the outbreak of violence at a rally in a suburb of Kampala, the Ministry of Internal Affairs issued a series of assembly guidelines in July, restricting the ability of CA delegates to speak outside their constituencies. Police and local officials subsequently cancelled over 17 events at which both supporters of the National Resistance Movement and advocates of a multiparty system were scheduled to speak. In July Zubairi Atamvaku, a CA delegate and university lecturer who was sharply critical of the Government, fled the country after alleging harassment by government security forces. The Government continued to detain and charge journalists with sedition, creating a climate in which some journalists felt pressure to practice self-censorship. A total of 23 newspapers and magazines, including party newspapers, publish a wide range of viewpoints covering the political spectrum. Many print media outlets accurately reported on corruption in government and human rights abuses. The Government controls one televison station and a radio station (Radio Uganda). The number of private television and radio stations continued to increase. During the year police arrested three journalists, two of which were subsequently charged with sedition. In April police arrested Lawrence Kiwanuka, editor of the Democratic Party's Citizen, for an article critical of the ISO. He fled to Kenya after his release on bail, fearing that he would be arrested for treason for his association with rebel leader Major Itongwa, and that his life was in danger. The two colleagues who offered surety for Kiwanuka's bail were later arrested and held for a week when they were not able to pay the bond. Hussein Musa Njuki, editor of the weekly Islamic newsletter "Assalaam," died shortly after his arrest on August 25 before the sedition charge could be filed. Njuki was not in good health, and the shock of the arrest may have exacerbated his medical condition. There was no evidence of torture or physical abuse by the police. Haruna Kanaabi, editor of the Islamic Shariat newsletter, was arrested on the same day as Njuki and charged with sedition. In September the magistrate denied bail for Kanaabi, citing the flight of Kiwanuka earlier in the year. Kanaabi's trial concluded in November, and he was found guilty. He was credited with the time already spent in jail, and on December 28, after paying a fine of $50 in lieu of an additional year in jail, he was released. Teddy Cheeye, editor of the Uganda Confidential, was acquitted in June of 1993 charges of sedition. The NRC passed a Press Bill in May after 4 years of debate on various drafts. The final legislation, criticized by the media, requires that journalists be licensed and meet minimum qualifications, including a university degree. The new law provides for a Media Council to monitor and discipline journalists. The law also gives the NRC power to suspend newspapers and to deny access to state information. A considerable degree of academic freedom exists at Uganda's five public and three private universities, with no government interference in teaching, research, or publication. However, professors appear to exercise caution rather than test the limits of their academic freedom. Students have sponsored wide-ranging political debates in open forums on campus, although at least one student-sponsored seminar was blocked by local police in Rakai district in July. The Government requires many students and government officials to take NRM political education and military science courses known as "Chaka Mchaka." These courses have been criticized because they seek to indoctrinate officials in NRM positions, including the view that political parties were responsible for Uganda's civil conflicts before 1986. There were unconfirmed reports that the techniques used in some of the courses included intimidation, physical and mental abuse, and sexual harassment. b.Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association The Government restricts these freedoms despite constitutional guarantees. The CA maintained in the new Constitution existing restrictions on political party activity to continue through the next general elections and a 5-year extension of the "movement system" of government. While the movement system is in power, political parties are not permitted to hold rallies or sponsor candidates, nor are they allowed to hold national conventions of their membership or open branch offices outside the capital. The Government arbitrarily limits peaceful assembly by denying permits for public gatherings and barring rallies by opposition politicians. The police issue administrative permits for public gatherings, but have the right to deny permits in the interest of public safety. The police prevented or dispersed at least 13 rallies, seminars, and other public events organized by opposition leaders, including Democratic Party President Paul Ssemogeere, Uganda People's Congress Acting Secretary General Cecilia Ogwal, the newly organized National Freedom Party, and profederalist activists. NGO's are required to register with the Ministry of Internal Affairs. While the Government generally approves NGO registration, it delayed registering the National Organization for Civic Education and Monitoring for two years. This umbrella group, comprised of 14 NGO's, was formed in 1993 to monitor elections.
c. Freedom of Religion
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion and the Government respects this right in practice.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
The Constitution provides for these rights, and the Government respects them in practice. A married woman needs her husband's signature on her passport application if children are traveling on the mother's passport. The Government cooperated with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees. There were no reports of forced expulsion of those having a valid claim to refugee status. Uganda accommodates over 346,800 refugees from Sudan, Rwanda, Zaire, and other countries.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
Citizens have the constitutional right to change their government, but will not be able to exercise this right until presidential and parliamentary elections are held in 1996. The National Resistance Movement Government extended its mandate until a new parliament and president are elected. The NRM majority in the CA voted to continue the existing NRM restrictions on political party activity for at least 5 years under the new Constitution, with a public referendum after 4 years to determine whether Uganda should adopt a multiparty system (see Section 2.b). President Museveni continued to hold power as Chief Executive, Minister of Defense, and Chairman of the National Executive Council. He ruled along with a 48-member Cabinet and the National Resistance Council, the acting parliament which included both indirectly elected and appointed members. There remained few meaningful checks and balances on presidential power; the new Constitution provides for checks on presidential power by an elected Parliament, however, parliamentary elections were not scheduled until 1996. The President has been publicly critical of multiparty politics and used his influence within the CA to postpone the establishment of political parties. In October under pressure to allow open participation in the political process prior to parliamentary and presidential elections, the Government disbanded its Focal Point Committees, which had been organized at the local level to promote NRM candidates. The Government has encouraged the participation of women in government and allocated special seats for women in the NRC and the CA. The new Constitution continues to provide for special women's representation in the new Parliament. Although they remain in the minority, women hold positions of responsibility at all levels of government, from the Vice President to local resistance councils. The CA had 48 women delegates and there are 39 women's representatives in the NRC. There were six women in the Cabinet, including the Vice President.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
A variety of human rights groups including the Foundation for Human Rights Initiatives (FHRI), a women's legal association (FIDA), and the National Women's Organization of Uganda, operate without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. HURINET, the Human Rights Network, an umbrella organization for nine human rights organizations active in the country, began publishing a quarterly human rights newsletter in January. Government officials are generally cooperative and responsive to NGO views, although some NGO's complained of periodic harassment by government officials. The Government allowed access by international human rights NGO's, UNHCR, and the ICRC. The new Constitution established a Human Rights Commission as a permanent independent body with the powers of a court. At year's end, however, members of the Commission had not yet been named by the President and approved by Parliament.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status
The Constitution prohibits discrimination based on these factors, but the Government does not effectively enforce the law in matters of local or customary discrimination against women, children, people with disabilities, or certain ethnic groups.
Violence against women, including rape, is common, and there are no laws to protect battered women apart from a general law on assault. Public and law enforcement officials view wife beating as a man's prerogative and rarely intervene in cases of domestic violence. Women are more likely to sue for divorce than to raise assault charges against their husbands while still married. In November the police set up a special gender issues desk and trained the first of 60 officers in investigative techniques and preventive measures for cases of rape. Traditional and widespread discrimination against women continues, especially in rural areas. Many customary laws discriminate against women in the areas of adoption, marriage, divorce, and devolution of property on death. Women may not own or inherit property or have custody of their children under customary law. Divorce law sets stricter evidentiary standards to prove adultery for women than for men. Women cannot sponsor a foreign-born spouse or the children of such a union for citizenship, whereas foreign women who marry Ugandans and the children of those marriages automatically receive citizenship. Women do most of the agricultural work but own only 7 percent of the land. There are active women's rights groups, including FIDA, Action for Development (ACFODE), and the National Women's Organization of Uganda, which promote greater awareness of the rights of women and children. FIDA is conducting a 3-year project to reform outdated and discriminatory laws.
The Government has devoted only limited resources to children's welfare. The Government introduced a children's bill to consolidate laws relating to children to provide for their care, protection, and maintenance, and establish a Family and Children's Court. However, the bill had not been passed by the NRC by year's end. The 1991 census put the number of orphaned children at 1.2 million (in Uganda, children missing one or both parents are considered orphans). The high number of orphans is attributed to past civil war and AIDS. Girls and boys have equal access to education, but families are more likely to enroll their sons in school and to continue supporting their education. Child abuse remains a serious problem, particularly rape of young girls known locally as "defilement." Only a small fraction of the cases are reported, especially when the perpetrator is a family member. Few cases reach the courts, with conviction and punishment rare. Corporal punishment is common in some schools. In May a teacher and headmistress gave a 9-year-old boy 130 strokes of the cane, which received extensive media attention and prompted widespread public debate on the issue. The teachers were charged with assault; the court case was still in progress at year's end. Female genital mutilation which is widely condemned by international health experts as damaging to both physical and psychological health, is not widespread but is practiced by some groups in eastern Uganda, notably the Sebei. There is no law against the practice. The Government and women's groups are working to stop the practice through education.
People with Disabilities
The law does not mandate accessibility to buildings or government services for the disabled. Widespread discrimination by society and employers limits job and educational opportunities for those with physical disabilities. A small office within the Ministry of Local Government tries to assist disabled Ugandans but lacks sufficient funding.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
There is no single labor code, but a combination of laws provides for the right of workers to form unions, and since 1993 this right has been extended to civil servants. However, many "essential" government employees are still not permitted to form unions; these include the police, army, permanent secretaries in the ministries, heads of departments and state-owned enterprises, school principals, and other management level officials. The National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU), the largest labor federation, includes 15 unions and is independent of the Government and political parties. NOTU's influence on the overall economy remains marginal, since about 90 percent of the work force consists of peasant farmers. According to the 1988-89 census, about 20 percent of an estimated 400,000 workers in the industrial or modern wage sector of the economy are unionized. There is almost no unionization in the large agricultural sector, much of which is subsistence farming. The new Constitution confirmed the right to strike, but government policy requires that labor and management make every effort to reconcile labor disputes before resorting to strike action. If reconciliation is not possible, labor must submit its grievances and notice to strike to the Minister of Labor, who under the Trade Disputes Arbitration and Settlement Act has the option of referring the dispute to the Industrial Court. There is no law prohibiting retribution against strikers. There were approximately two dozen strikes by both unionized and nonunionized labor, including taxi drivers, bankers, teachers, doctors, health care workers, and tea and sugar factory workers. The only violent strike occurred in June, when police opened fire on striking workers at the Lugazi Sugar Corporation, killing 1 person and injuring 10; 1 police officer was charged with murder following the incident. In a landmark court decision, the High Court upheld the Industrial Court's award of payment of salary increases dating back to 1993 to employees of six foreign-owned banks. Bank employees went on strike in May after bank management refused to honor the April decision by the Industrial Court, and again in August following the decision of the High Court. Representatives of the bank workers and management signed an agreement outlining a 4-year payment schedule for the higher salaries. Following a strike by the Uganda Medical Workers Association in September, three union leaders were arrested and charged with neglect of duty and disobeying lawful orders; they were released on bail. At year's end, the case was pending. Labor unions freely exercise the right to affiliate with and participate in regional and international labor organizations.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
The law provides for the right to organize and bargain collectively, but true collective bargaining takes place only in the small private sector of the modern economy. In the modern sector, the Government is by far the largest employer (civil service and state-owned enterprises) and it dominates the bargaining process. The Government has, however, adopted a tripartite (government-employers-labor) cooperative approach to setting wages and resolving labor issues. Both the Government and employers may refer disputes to the Industrial Court. The law does not prohibit antiunion discrimination by employers, but there were no reported incidents of government harassment of union officials. There are no export processing zones.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The law prohibits compulsory labor. However, there is evidence that prison officials force prisoners to work on private farms and construction sites. The International Labor Organization cited the government's failure to report on the Convention on Forced Labor.
d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
Employers are prohibited by law from employing workers below the age of 18, and there is no child labor in the formal sector, including the export industries. However, many children are employed in the informal sector, often on family subsistence farms, or, in urban areas, selling small wares on the streets or working as domestics. The Ministry of Social Services is charged with enforcing the law on child labor, but does so only in the industrial sector. There are no minimum educational requirements.
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
Neither the law nor the Government sets an explicit minimum wage policy. Wages are set by negotiation between unions and employers or by the boards of directors of state-owned industries. Salaries are usually combined with other incentives (housing, transport allowance) which often equal base wages. The Ministry of Labor's salary scale for civil servants starts with unskilled labor earning $44 to $77 per month (40,000 to 70,000 shillings), skilled labor (such as clerks or drivers) $55 to $133 per month (50,000 to 120,000 shillings), and supervisors $155 to $333 per month (140,000 to 300,000 shillings), all include provisions for paid overtime. The higher end of this scale would begin to support a family. However, wages in general are insufficient to support a family, and many civil servants and other workers must find second jobs, grow their own food, or seek other ways to feed their families. Although there is no legal maximum workweek, the normal workweek is 40 hours, and time and a half is paid for each additional hour worked. The only occupational health and safety legislation is contained in the outdated Factories Act of 1954, which does not address many present day working hazards. The act does not permit workers to excuse themselves from dangerous work situations without jeopardy to continued employment. The Ministry of Labor's Department of Occupational Health is responsible for enforcement, but in practice inspections are rare.