United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1994 - Uganda, 30 January 1995, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa491c.html [accessed 2 May 2016]
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.
President Yoweri Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM) continued to rule Uganda through the National Resistance Council (NRC) and an appointed Cabinet since taking power in 1986. The President dominated the Government, the NRC, and the extended transition process to constitutional government. In March citizens elected individual members to a Constituent Assembly charged with debating and ratifying a constitution. The elections were open to all candidates and internationally recognized as reflecting the will of Ugandans, although political parties were not permitted to sponsor candidates. At the end of the year, the Constituent Assembly had still not completed its work, and the Government extended the Constituent Assembly's mandate for an additional 6 months to June 1995. The National Resistance Army (NRA) remains the key internal and external security force. In rebuilding the police force, the Government reduced the NRA from 90,000 members in 1990 to under 50,000 in 1994. The Army, along with local defense units (LDU's), assists the police in rural areas. The LDU's operate without a clear legal mandate. The professionalism of the Ugandan police continued to improve, but police committed some human rights abuses, and much of the force remains ill-trained, poorly equipped, and corrupt. In August the Government established a home guard force to assist with the counterinsurgency effort. Beginning in February, the Government faced a renewed insurgency threat in the north from a group calling itself the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), led by Joseph Kony, which committed egregious human rights abuses, including murder, rape, and kidnaping. In countering the threat, there were also credible reports that the NRA and LDU's committed serious violations, including extrajudicial killings in March and detention of civilians without charge. Primarily based on agriculture, the economy showed strong growth--about 4 percent--in 1993-94. 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. Despite massive rural poverty, the Government continued to implement a tough economic reform program. Uganda also continued to depend heavily on foreign aid, which amounted to 60 percent of government spending in 1993-94. Although the Government continued to pledge support for democracy and respect for human rights, it also carefully controlled the steps toward constitutional change. The Government maintained prohibitions on certain political party activities and limited freedoms of speech, press, and peaceful assembly. It arrested two politicians in March and two journalists in October on spurious sedition charges, and in August and September prohibited three seminars on constitutional issues. In the renewed insurgency in the north, the LRA rebels committed most of the human rights abuses against civilians. In response to the threat, the NRA committed a number of serious abuses. Elsewhere, army and police officials sometimes tortured criminal suspects, particularly after arrest, and beatings during interrogation were common. The Government, the NRA, and the police took measures to increase the discipline, training, and, in some instances, punishment of security officials. Both police and NRA officials responsible for human rights abuses were prosecuted for such violations, but the disciplinary measures varied from one command or magistrate to another. Discrimination against women, domestic violence, and the rape of women and children remained serious social problems.
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 known instances of political killings. However, in the insurgency fighting there were a number of extrajudicial killings by both the NRA and insurgent forces (see Section 1.g.). There were also a few reported incidents in which village Resistance Council (RC-1) and LDU personnel tortured or killed criminal suspects. For example, in November in Mengo, two RC-1 officials and an LDU member reportedly tortured a suspected thief to death. In handling an antitax demonstration in Iganga in January, during which angry demonstrators tried to overrun a police station, the police used excessive force by firing into the crowd, killing two persons. However, press reports indicated that the police did not shoot unprovoked into the crowd. The Government received the results of the official investigation of the incident on December 30.
There were no reports of disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
NRA officials and police commonly beat suspected criminals, usually at the time of arrest or interrogation, and often for the purpose of forcing confessions. There were also credible reports of isolated incidents in which security forces used other forms of torture. The Government investigated some reported cases and tried and punished some offenders. There were instances of mobs attacking suspected thieves and other offenders caught committing a crime. These mobs engaged in stonings, 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 the nation's poverty and budgetary restrictions. Uganda maintains two prison systems; one state-funded and run by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and a second rural-based under the Ministry of Local Government. Conditions are particularly harsh in the local prisons which receive no central government funding. These local administrative prisons, together with 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. In 1993 there were 508 prison deaths. Juveniles are kept in prison with adults. Women have segregated prisons, with female staff, and as a result rape does not appear to be a problem among women prisoners. Pretrial detainees comprise over half of the prison population. In August there were 11,761 total prisoners, of which 4,253 had been convicted, with over 7,500 held in pretrial detention. In October, primarily to ease the overcrowding, the President pardoned 800 prisoners, including the terminally sick, the aged, and breast-feeding mothers, but excluded those charged with capital offenses. The U.N. Development Program and nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) have started programs for training wardens, counseling prisoners, and providing supplementary food and drugs for AIDS victims in prison. The Government permitted full access to prisons by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and local NGO's, principally the Foundation for Human Rights Initiatives (FHRI) and the Law Society. Prison authorities require advance notification of visits, a process that is often subject to administrative delays.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
Under Ugandan 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 for a capital offense) in the projected new constitution. The Government detained both civilians and military personnel on suspicion of treason but did not formally charge anyone with treason in 1994. The NRA detained approximately 170 civilians in northern Uganda for suspected collaboration with the LRA. Of these, it released 34 in October and November and 70 in early December. Some persons had been held since February. The Government permitted both the ICRC and Amnesty International to visit the detainees. The NRA held 26 rebel prisoners in Gulu at year's end. The Government also temporarily detained journalists and political party leaders (see Sections 2.a. and 2.b.). The Government does not use exile as a means 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 1994, including Sam Luwero, a former insurgent leader of the Uganda National Liberation Army, Aggrey Awori, a former ambassador, who was elected to the Constituent Assembly in March, Major General Yusuf Gowon, Chief of Staff under Idi Amin, and Col. William Omaria, Minister of State for Internal Affairs under former president Milton Obote.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
Pending anticipated constitutional changes, the regular court system consists of magistrates courts, the High Court, and a Supreme Court. The military maintains an independent system of courts-martial for military offenders. The civilian judicial system contains procedural safeguards, including the granting of bail and appeals to higher courts. 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. In addition to the regular court system, the village RC-1's have the authority to settle traditional civil disputes, including land ownership and payment of debts. The RC-1 courts, often the only ones available to villagers, frequently exceed their authority by hearing criminal cases, including murder and rape. RC-1 decisions may be appealed in magistrates courts, but often there are no records made of the case in the RC-1's, and many defendants are not aware of their right to appeal. The right to a fair trial in Uganda has been circumscribed in recent years by an inadequate system of judicial administration and resources resulting in a serious backlog of cases, the reluctance of military authorities to respect civilian court orders, and the failure to provide due process safeguards in military courts. The Commission of Judicial Inquiry, established in 1993 to investigate the mismanagement of criminal cases, criticized the excessive delays in the investigation and prosecution of cases by the police and the courts. The Commission made extensive recommendations for more expeditious processing of cases, elimination of the legal provisions for lengthy detention, increased training and funding for police investigations, and restructuring of the office of public prosecution to oversee all criminal cases. In June the High Court reported it had over 100 cases pending consideration. Criminal cases may take 2 or more years to reach the courts. Many defendants cannot afford legal counsel. The Government provides attorneys for indigent defendants only for capital offenses. The Ugandan Law Society 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, the defense attorney is 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 number of political prisoners (as distinct from political detainees) held by the Government at year's end was unknown. The courts continued to process the appeals in approximately 12 cases of past political convictions for treason. In January, in the appeal case of Professor Isaac Newton Ojok, a former Minister of Education under Milton Obote, the High Court acquitted him, overturning his 1991 conviction for treason and sentence to death. Similarly, the Supreme Court annulled the previous conviction (and death sentences) for treason in 1992 of Hofni Topacho Ogentho, Noan Habbas, and Philip Aboth Kerunen; the three men were set free in March. Also, in October the High Court acquitted Brigadier Opon Acak and Ahmed Oginy in one of the few remaining treason trials. The trial of Colonel Ahmed Kashilling on the same charges was continuing at year's end.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The Government does not generally intrude in the privacy, family, or home of citizens. The law requires that the police have search warrants before entering private homes or offices, and this law is generally observed in practice. However, the police searched vehicles for weapons at checkpoints without prior warrants.
g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal Conflicts
There were new violations of humanitarian law, committed both by government forces, and especially by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), led by Joseph Kony. Kony is estimated to have approximately 250 to 300 followers, although most of his support is reportedly gained through intimidation. LRA rebels operate guerrilla-style in groups of 5 to 10; it is unclear what, if any, political goals the group seeks. The LRA resumed attacks on officials and civilians in northern Uganda, killing, raping, and abducting large numbers of civilians, and burning homes, granaries and other property. The group also mutilated some of its victims, cutting off limbs or disfiguring faces. Kony's rebels killed over 100 civilians and abducted over 230 civilians in the February through October period. Starting in August, the insurgents used land mines to block northern roads. These mines interfered with humanitarian relief operations for southern Sudan and Sudanese refugee camps in northern Uganda. Land mine explosions killed civilians as well as soldiers. The NRA provided armed escorts to relief convoys after the United Nations and NGO's requested protection. In responding to the attacks, the NRA reportedly committed similar abuses. Newspapers reported that the NRA killed 5 civilians in one village and 15 in another, raped women, and burned property in February and March. In July, after the NRA changed army commanders in the north, military discipline improved, and some soldiers suspected of abuses were tried in courts-martial and punished. Toward the end of the year, Kony and a number of his followers reportedly fled to Sudan. The level of the insurgency was reduced, with few reported attacks by the rebels in the final quarter of the year.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The NRM Government restricts freedom of political speech and the press in a variety of ways but has not invoked censorship laws from previous regimes. Open debate occurs in the Constituent Assembly, in the NRC, in the press, and in many public forums. While there is also direct criticism of President Museveni in the media, such public criticism of high-level officials, including the President, runs the risk of legal sanctions (see below). Some 15 newspapers and magazines publish a wide range of viewpoints covering the political spectrum, including party newspapers. The government-owned newspaper, the New Vision, accurately reported on corruption in government and human rights abuses. The Government controls one television (UTV) station and a radio station, and in 1994 two private radio stations and one private television station began broadcasting. Although these stations are not yet able to reach the entire country, in Kampala they have become far more popular than the government-run stations. At year's end, all three private stations had fledgling news services and broadcast British Broadcasting Corporation or Voice of America news programs. The Government has encouraged the development of the private media. During the preelection period, UTV and Radio Uganda gave equal time to the NRM and the political parties to expound their views. The Government restricted freedom of speech and the press by publicly harassing opposition leaders through short detentions and legal actions on vague sedition charges. In March the police arrested two Uganda People's Congress (UPC) leaders and threatened acting UPC Secretary General Cecilia Ogwal with arrest for publishing the UPC party's manifesto for the election campaign. The authorities released the two arrested politicians on bail, and Ogwal continued to campaign, winning her seat in the Constituent Assembly by a large majority. In October police arrested Ogwal and another Constituent Assembly delegate, Patrick Mwondha, for attempting to address a crowd gathered in Iganga. In April the police questioned the editorial staff of the Monitor newspaper and later arrested the Monitor's editor on charges of criminal libel for publishing a story critical of several cabinet ministers; they dropped the charges the following day. The authorities arrested Teddy Cheeye, the editor in chief of Uganda Confidentia, for failing to appear in court in violation of his bond for 1993 charges of sedition. While Cheeye was able to publish regularly throughout the year, he continued to defend himself against several different lawsuits for publishing allegedly defamatory and seditious articles about the President and his wife, cabinet ministers, and other prominent Ugandans. In September the NRC began to consider the Ugandan Mass Media and Press Bill, first introduced in 1991 and set aside several times for revision. The journalists' associations have protested the bill's provisions for licensing all journalists and publications, the establishment of a media council to monitor and discipline journalists, and the instituting of district censorship boards. The NRC rejected the bill as drafted and sent it to a committee which has consulted with journalists and other interested parties. At year's end, revisions of the bill were still in progress. 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 that test the limits of their academic freedom. Students have sponsored wide-ranging political debates in open forums on campus. The Museveni Government requires many government officials to take NRM political education and military science courses known as "Chaka Mchaka." These courses seek to indoctrinate officials in the NRM positions, including Museveni's view against multiple political parties.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The Government restricts these freedoms despite constitutional guarantees. It arbitrarily limits peaceful assembly by denying permits for public gatherings and barring rallies by political parties. The police issue administrative permits for public gatherings but have the right to deny permits in the interest of public safety. In August and September, police barred two seminars on federalism sponsored by the Crusade for Constitutional Governance, an NGO. In the first instance, the police cited security reasons and refused to issue a permit for the outdoor meeting. In the second, after granting the Crusade a permit for a September 25 seminar, the police revoked it just before the meeting was to begin. In both instances, armed police officers cordoned off the meetings sites and refused entry to participants and the public. Also, during the 1994 election campaign, the Government did not permit Constituent Assembly candidates to hold individual rallies, nor permit political parties to call public meetings o support candidates. The Government's statute for the elections prescribed the format of candidates' meetings, allowing all candidates equal time to address the public. In February the election Commission withdrew accreditation from the National Organization for Civic Education and Monitoring (NOCEM), an umbrella group of 14 NGO's, for conducting civic education before the election, after the Commission received complaints from government officials that NOCEM was partisan. The Commission allowed NOCEM to continue its monitoring activities through the election in March. NOCEM applied for registration as an NGO but was not registered before the year's end; all the member organizations of NOCEM had been previously registered.
c. Freedom of Religion
The 1967 Constitution and the draft constitution provide for freedom of religion, and the Government respects this right. There is no state religion, and a variety of religions are freely practiced. While the Government requires religious groups to register as NGO's, it does not use this requirement to curtail religious activities by any group.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
Growing insecurity in northern Uganda restricted freedom of movement due to bandit and rebel attacks on travelers, and, starting in August, the insurgents' use of land mines on northern roads. Ugandans are free to emigrate and to travel abroad. Uganda accommodates over 350,000 refugees from Sudan, Rwanda, Zaire, Somalia, and other countries. The Government cooperated with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees. There were no reports of forced expulsion of those having a valid claim to refugee status. The Government signed an agreement with the UNHCR and Zaire in August, allowing for the repatriation of Ugandan refugees from Zaire.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
Under the 1967 Constitution, citizens have the right to change their government, but they will not be able to exercise this right until the new constitution is in place and presidential and parliamentary elections are held. In March the first generally free and fair election was held to elect representatives to the Constituent Assembly, charged with drafting and approving a new constitution. Although political parties were not permitted to sponsor candidates or hold rallies, opposition party members could stand as individuals for elections, and many won seats (see Section 2.b.). The 282-member Assembly began deliberations in May on the new constitution, but did not complete its work by December as stipulated in the statute. The NRC extended its mandate until June 1995. President Museveni continued to hold power as Chief Executive, Minister of Defense, and Chairman of the National Executive Council. In November the President appointed a new Cabinet that included members of all three major opposition parties, the Democratic Party, the United People's Congress (UPC), and the Conservative Party. However, these Cabinet members' portfolios were generally less powerful than in the past. Also, there were few meaningful checks and balances on presidential power in place. Museveni has repeatedly and publicly stated his opposition to multiparty politics but has said that he will accept such a system if it emerges from the deliberations on the new constitution. The Government has encouraged the participation of women in government and allocated special seats for women in the NRC and the Constituent Assembly. The President appointed Dr. Specioza Kazibwe as the first female Vice President in November. Women hold positions of responsibility at all levels of government and within some of the political parties, one of which (the UPC) has a woman as its highest acting official. In the NRC, women held 43 of the 264 positions, and 5 of the 48 government ministers and ministers of state are women. There are 48 women in the Constituent Assembly.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
The Government permits a variety of local NGO's concerned with human rights to operate, although it monitors these and related organizations if their activities touch prohibited political areas (see Section 2.b.). Of 15 nongovernmental human rights organizations, 5 actively monitor human rights abuses: The Foundation for Human Rights Initiatives, the Uganda Human Rights Activists, the Ugandan Law Society, the Ugandan Chapter of the International Women's Lawyers Association (FIDA), and Action for Development. The FHRI regularly visits prisons to monitor conditions and supports penal reform efforts. FIDA concentrates on cases involving women and children. The Ugandan Human Rights Activists publish a quarterly report, which regularly reports on human rights abuses and prison conditions. The Government does not interfere in the operation of these groups. The Uganda Human Rights Commission, created by the Government to investigate human rights abuses prior to 1986, published a series of reports in October recommending both legal action in specific incidents of past human rights abuses and legal and administrative reform to prevent the recurrence of violations. In one case investigated by the Commission, 7 men were brought to trial in Mbarara in August for the murder of 16 Muslims in 1979, shortly after the fall of Idi Amin. The court released two of the seven for lack of evidence; it convicted five in October and sentenced them to death. The Government allows access to Uganda by international human rights monitoring groups. Amnesty International visited northern Uganda in November with full official cooperation. The Office of the Inspector General conducted three workshops for the army and police during the year, in conjunction with the Swedish Raoul Wallenburg Foundation, the ICRC, the UNHCR, and other NGO's. The official and private media give broad publicity to published international reports on Uganda's human rights problems. The Government created several bodies in 1994 to monitor human rights in Uganda. Following a February 1993 presidential directive, the Resistance Councils in all districts set up human rights subcommittees to monitor local human rights violations. A Human Rights Desk was established within the Ministry of Justice to produce reports from these subcommittees. The Desk's first report for 1994 was still in progress at year's end. The Human Rights Desk held workshops with the National Resistance Army in Kampala, Gulu and Mbale during 1994 and sponsored a workshop for RC-1 members on human rights issues in August.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status
The 1967 Constitution prohibits discrimination based on these categories, except in the case of disability. The draft Constitution includes explicit reference to the disabled as well.
Traditional and widespread discrimination against women continues, especially in rural areas. Many customary laws are disadvantageous to 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. Married women need their husband's signatures on their passport application forms before they receive a passport. Women do most of the agricultural work but own only 7 percent of the land. Domestic violence, 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.
The Government has severely limited resources to devote to child welfare. As a result of past civil war and the AIDS scourge, the number of orphans is thought to exceed 1 million. Child abuse remains a serious problem. Corporal punishment is common in some schools. The press reports regularly on cases of rape, with victims, mostly girls, of increasingly younger ages. In 1993 the NRC amended the law to define as minors those rape victims under the age of 18. The Government occasionally prosecutes rape cases, but convictions and punishment are rare. Observers attribute increasing reports of child beating and molestation to the breakdown of the traditional village family structure and to social dislocations caused by war and urbanization. Female genital mutilation is not widespread, but it 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.
Approximately 40 African ethnic groups constitute the vast majority of the population of Uganda, with tiny percentages of Asians and Europeans. Asians, expelled by Idi Amin in the early 1970's, have continued to return to Uganda under the current Government's policy of adjudicating claims to confiscated property. Ethnic divisions between Bantu-speaking peoples in the south and Nilotic speakers in the north have been aggravated by civil conflict since Uganda's independence. However, only a few minority populations have truly suffered discrimination, such as the Pygmies and the Bakonjo of the Ruwenzori mountains, who were once slaves within the traditional kingdoms, and the Karamajong, independent cattle herders in eastern Uganda, whom other Ugandans consider to be violent and underdeveloped. None of these groups participates fully in Ugandan society, government, or educational institutions.
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. At the end of the year, Ugandan labor law was undergoing major reshaping pending introduction of the new constitution. A tripartite committee composed of several government ministries, NOTU, and the Federation of Uganda Employers, reviewed draft implementing legislation covering such subjects as a minimum wage, dispute resolution mechanisms, and occupational health and safety standards. The law provides for the right to strike, but the Government insists that labor and management (often a government entity) 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 at least 20 strikes among both unionized and nonunionized labor, including those by doctors and health workers, railway workers, teachers, university professors, and taxi drivers. 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 (wage) 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 forced prison labor is employed on private farms and construction sites.
d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
Employers are prohibited by law from recruiting 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 education 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 allowances) 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), supervisor $155 to $333 per month (140,000 to 300,000 shillings), all with paid overtime. The higher end of these salaries 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, such as permitting 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.