United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1993 - Uganda, 30 January 1994, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa5524.html [accessed 29 March 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.
Since 1986 President Yoweri Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM) have exercised authority through the National Resistance Council (NRC), an appointed Cabinet, and the National Resistance Army. Both the NRC and the Cabinet include members of the three major political parties, the Democratic Party (DP), the Uganda People's Congress (UPC), and the Conservative Party (CP). Although he generally seeks consensus with key institutions and interest groups on important policy issues, the President dominates the Government and the transition process to constitutional government. Elections for a Constituent Assembly to debate and adopt a new constitution were scheduled for March 28, 1994, with general elections under the new constitution to be held by the end of 1994. The present Government's term expires on January 25, 1995. Under the President, the National Resistance Army (NRA) is the key security apparatus in Uganda. As part of his strategy to deal with insurgencies, Museveni expanded the army tenfold between 1986 and 1991, incorporating former rebels into the NRA; this eroded discipline within the ranks. In 1992, as the security situation stabilized, the Government began demobilizing the armed forces, discharging over 23,000 soldiers by the end of 1993. The professionalism of the police force continued to grow in 1993, although it remained severely underfunded, ill-trained, poorly equipped, and often corrupt. The Army, along with home guards and local defense units, continued to perform police functions in rural areas. The Internal Security Organization (ISO) is responsible for intelligence and security. As armed insurgencies in northern and northeastern Uganda ended during the year, reports of human rights abuses by the NRA and the rebels declined significantly. The Ugandan economy remains primarily based in agriculture, with rural poverty a continuing problem. The economic growth rate averaged about 7 percent in 1993, with a negative inflation rate, both positive signs of the country's improving economy. Coffee remains the chief export crop and foreign exchange earner, but efforts to diversify the economy continued to pay off in modest increases in tobacco, cotton, and tea exports. Foreign aid contributed 60 percent of government spending in 1993. In accordance with reforms supported by the International Monetary Fund, the civil service began a retrenchment in 1992, cutting the government payroll. Overall, the human rights situation in Uganda continued to improve in 1993. With the apparent end of major armed insurgencies, which had been responsible in the past for massive violations by both the NRA and the rebel forces, there were few reports of such violations, and by the end of the year the Government had released almost all civilian and military prisoners taken during the campaigns. Nonetheless, the Government continued to bear responsibility for some serious human rights abuses. These included restrictions on organized political party activity, including breaking up peaceful political assembly, the harassment of journalists through arrests on sedition charges, and occasional incidents of torture and beatings of prisoners. Discrimination, domestic violence, and rape against women continued.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
There is no evidence that the Government sanctioned political killings in 1993. There were, however, reports of extrajudicial killings. For example, on June 21, police and internal security officials arrested four intelligence officers accused of murdering two prisoners in Iganga district on June 7. The case received considerable media attention. Two of the four accused officers were released without charge; the other two were being held in Makindye military prison without charge at year's end. Rebel groups also engaged in extrajudicial killings. In March a group calling itself The Lord's Resistance Army abducted the former District Administrator (DA) of Nebbi and killed three others; the DA was released by the group on April 29. In April, a rebel group led by Charles Ogwang killed a Resistance Council official and a Local Defense Unit member in Kumi district. In November a group thought to be members of the Lakwena rebels ambushed and killed an assistant security officer and one home guard in Gulu district. Remnants of Uganda Patriotic Army rebels killed three people in Kumi district, also in November. It is not clear whether the above incidents were politically motivated or criminal acts of murder. In contrast to past years, there were no reports in 1993 that the NRA committed extrajudicial killings.
There were no known government-sponsored disappearances in 1993.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
While isolated incidents of torture and beatings of prisoners by police and army officials continue, there is no evidence of government-sanctioned torture. "Kandoya," a traditional local method of immobilizing prisoners by suspending them by their wrists and ankles which are tied behind their backs, was still reported. The practice is illegal, however, and military authorities have publicly expressed their condemnation of it. Increased military discipline combined with increased security in the country, open newspaper reporting of military misconduct, and the political will of the higher levels of the administration resulted in reducing the incidence of abuses of persons under detention. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had access to all prisoners it requested to visit in prisons, police stations, military barracks and NRA detachments throughout Uganda. The NRA would not permit private ICRC interviews with soldiers who had not been sentenced. Diplomats from several countries were also allowed to visit civilian and military prisons. Uganda's prisons reportedly have one of the highest mortality rates in the world from diseases spread by unsanitary conditions, malnutrition, and AIDS, a disease which is pandemic in Uganda. Prisoners do not have access to proper medical care nor adequate nutrition. The ICRC arranged for installation of a new water system for Luzira and successfully negotiated with the Government for families to be permitted to bring food to prisoners throughout Uganda, improving their nutrition. In 1993 there were media reports of homosexual rape among the inmate population. Luzira prison, Uganda's largest with an intended capacity of 600, held about 1,200 at the end of 1993, down from more than 2,000 at the beginning of 1992. The Foundation for Human Rights Initiatives in Uganda and Penal Reform International, an organization based in Britain, conducted a conference in August on penal justice and prison reform, including a visit by participants to Luzira.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
Although Ugandan law requires that a suspect must be charged within 24 hours of arrest and be brought to trial or considered for bail within 240 days (480 days for a capital offense), government offficials failed to enforce both requirements. The Government has a variety of legal means to detain indefinitely suspected opponents, including through broadly interpreted charges of treason that may be used to hold a suspect for 480 days before trial or consideration of an application for bail. The Public Order and Security Act of 1967 (The Detention Order) permits unlimited detention without charge, and remains a lever for the Government to use against opponents, but the Act has not been invoked by the NRM. The Government released most of the remaining civilians and rebel soldiers who had been detained in the various insurgency campaigns; at one time they numbered in the thousands. The Government or NRA usually held these persons on treason charges, often in military barracks, but rarely brought them to trial. Among those released in August were nine military officers who were arrested in 1990 for conspiracy to overthrow the Government by force of arms. One of the nine released officers plans to stand for the Constituent Assembly election. With relative peace throughout the country, the Government detained fewer persons without charge than in past years. The Government did not formally charge anyone with treason in 1993. Ten suspected rebels were arrested during the year; those who were not released were charged with criminal offenses. Police arrested three journalists on charges of sedition for printing stories critical of government policy and officials (see Section 2.a.). At the end of the year, the Government held approximately 100 persons on state security grounds, with 14 new cases reported in 1993, as opposed to 423 new cases in 1992. The Government does not use exile as a means of political control. A presidential amnesty for former rebels remains in effect and applies to opponents in exile. Those who return, however, may be prosecuted for criminal acts they may have committed. Ugandans continued to return from exile in 1993, including former president Tito Okello.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The Ugandan court system consists of magistrates' courts, the High Court, and a Supreme Court. There is also a military court system for hearing offenses against military personnel. The judicial system contains procedural safeguards modeled after British law, including the granting of bail and appeals to higher courts. However, the Government has circumscribed the right to a fair trial in recent years by its reliance on indefinite detention of its opponents, by an inadequate system of judicial administration, and by the reluctance of military authorities to respect civilian court orders. In one instance, for example, a military court refused to honor a civilian court's writ of habeas corpus. Trials in the military court system also lack important due process safeguards and do not meet international standards. A serious backlog of cases denies most defendants a speedy trial. Criminal cases can take 2 or more years to reach the courts. In rural areas, there is often no magistrate. There were no reports of the use of military field tribunals in remote areas as had occurred in previous years. The Ugandan Law Society operated legal aid clinics in Kampala and Jinja, with plans to open an additional clinic in Fort Portal, assisting free of charge more than 100 people. The Ugandan judiciary is generally independent; the Government usually complies with court decisions. In appointing the four members of the Judicial Service Commission which makes recommendations on High Court and Supreme Court appointments, the President maintains considerable control over the judiciary. The Commission must concur in the dismissal of a magistrate. A judge may be removed only after a tribunal comprised of three judges finds that he is "unable to perform the functions of his office." In June a Commission of Inquiry into the mismangagement of criminal cases, headed by a British High Court Justice, began public hearings, preceded by the suspension of the Director of Public Prosecution and another officer. At the end of the year, some state attorneys had also been suspended. The Commission will continue its hearings in 1994, with an expected completion date of March. Village resistance councils (RC's) have the authority to settle civil disputes, including those related to land ownership and payment of debts. The RC courts, typically the only ones available to villagers, often exceed their authority by hearing criminal cases, including murder and rape. Legally the RC decisions may be appealed in magistrates' courts. In practice this does not often happen because people are ignorant of their right to appeal or are limited by lack of finances. The Ugandan Law Society proposed to the Attorney General in 1992 that the village RC courts be replaced by a group of elected elders of impeccable character to be supervised by magistrates, thus separating the judicial and executive functions at the village level. The Government did not respond to the proposal. The military court system does not meet international standards for assuring a fair trial. Although the accused has the right to legal counsel, the defense attorney is often untrained and is usually 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. The Government has never implemented a 1989 law permitting the establishment of special magistrates courts in areas of insurgency, but, like the Detention Order, the Government is not likely to revoke it.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The Government does not intrude on the privacy, family, or home of citizens on a wide scale, and there is no indication that it interfered with private correspondence in 1993. However, although search warrants are legally required before private homes or offices may be entered, the police and the army in Kampala and Gulu violated this requirement. In February before the Pope's visit, the police conducted security searches without warrants. Police officials also reportedly conducted sweeps of vehicles and pedestrians without warrants, searching for illegal weapons in cities throughout the country.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The Government restricts freedom of speech by limiting political party activities and by arresting journalists for sedition. Three arrests of journalists in late 1993 had a temporary chilling effect on both the press and the opposition, although the journalists were released on bail and continued to publish articles critical of the Government and its human rights abuses. Despite restrictions on party rallies and other public activities, open debate occurs in the NRC, in the media, and in public forums. Public figures openly criticize government policies, corruption, and human rights abuses. Fifteen newspapers and magazines cover a wide range of viewpoints. Despite other restrictions on political party activity, political parties publish newspapers to promote their views. The Government owns the New Vision, which has accurately reported on corruption in government and human rights abuses by the NRA. Among the main problems confronting Uganda print media are extremely tight operating budgets, limited access to information, and the absence of formal distribution channels outside the capital. There are no foreign correspondents in Uganda. Unlike the regimes that preceded it, the NRM has not instituted formal censorship. However, the legal provisions for doing so remain on the books, and the Government has used sedition charges to attack its press critics. Government actions against journalists have resulted in some self-censorship. A journalism bill called for the creation of a media council to monitor and discipline journalists. The bill was strongly criticized by members of the press; the journalists' union sponsored a seminar in November attacking the bill. The Government withdrew the bill for further revision and review. There were a number of government-initiated actions against the press. On October 1, police arrested two journalists, the editor in chief of Uganda Confidential, Teddy Seezi Cheeye, and a subeditor of Shariat, on charges of sedition. On October 25, police arrested the editor of Shariat on charges of publishing seditious stories. He was later released on bail; his case, and that of his subeditor, remained pending in the courts at year's end. In early December, Kampala's Chief Magistrate dismissed charges of defamation and sedition against Uganda Confidential editor Cheeye dating from 1991 and 1992. On December 4, however, the Government added two new charges of sedition against Cheeye for an August issue of Uganda Confidential. The court scheduled the next hearing in this case against Cheeye for January 1994. Before his October 1 arrest, editor Cheeye had faced seven different law suits for publishing allegedly defamatory and seditious articles about the President, Cabinet ministers, and other prominent Ugandans. In March the president of the Uganda Journalists Association won about $3,000 (3 million Uganda shillings)in damages in one such case against Uganda Confidential. Uganda Television (UTV) and Radio Uganda are controlled by the Government. They disseminate NRM views, but also broadcast discussions of public policy that reflect a variety of opinion. Political party spokespersons have appeared on UTV and Radio Uganda, usually facing critical interviewers, but openly expressing their views. 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. Professors appear to exercise caution rather than test the limits of their academic freedom. Students, however, have sponsored wide-ranging political debates in open forums on campus.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
All associations in Uganda must register with the Government. Permits for public gatherings must be obtained from police authorities, who have and exercise the right to deny permits in the interest of public safety. Although political parties are not banned, political activity is restricted, and political rallies are not allowed. The police and district administration officials broke up four meetings convened by UPC officials: A joint executive meeting for UPC leaders in Arua in February, and UPC meetings in Nebbi in March, and in Pallisa and Mbale in April. In May the mobilizers' group of the Democratic Party scheduled a rally in Kampala in defiance of the restrictions on party activities. A strong show of force by the police, unchallenged by the mobilizers, blocked the rally. The DP Mobilizers scheduled a second rally for November 13. Police again presented a show of force and the organizers canceled the rally before it began. In December an unofficial UPC meeting at a funeral in Lira resulted in a confrontation with the police; UPC officials disbanded the meeting to avoid violence. Later in the month, police shot into the air when a a crowd of UPC supporters gathered to block the arrest of a UPC leader; several people were injured. The UPC has brought a case to court challenging the restrictions on public political party activity as unconstitutional since they violate the freedoms of speech and assembly in the current (1967) Constitution. On December 14, a High Court judge referred the case to a Constitutional Court, which will be constituted of three senior High Court judges. Professional associations operate without hindrance, as do international service associations.
c. Freedom of Religion
There is no state religion in Uganda. Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and African traditional religions are freely practiced. Conversion between religions is not obstructed. Foreign missionaries and other religious figures are generally welcome in Uganda. There is no government control of religious publications, even those with an antigovernment bias. Religious leaders frequently speak out publicly on topics relating to their followers' welfare, addressing in particular human rights, security, and political issues. While it has not been uniformly enforced, the Government requires religious groups to register as nongovernmental organizations (NGO's). Registration has not curtailed activities by these groups.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
As security conditions continued to improve, freedom of movement in Uganda expanded greatly, although access to some areas remained restricted. The NRA required vehicles to travel in convoys on the route between Karuma and Pakwach in the northwest for several months in early 1993. Travel in the east, and particularly Karamoja in the northeast, remained difficult due to sporadic attacks by armed bandits. Ugandans are free to emigrate and to travel abroad. Uganda accommodates refugees from Sudan, Rwanda, Zaire, Somalia, and other countries. There were over 250,000 registered, and a large number of unregistered refugees in Uganda in 1993. In August and September, new waves of Sudanese refugees began crossing the border into northern Uganda fleeing war and insecurity. At the same time, the cease-fire and the August Peace Accord between the Rwandan Government and the Rwandan Patriotic Front brought the voluntary repatriation of thousands of Rwandan refugees from Uganda. There were no instances of expulsion or forced repatriation of refugees in 1993.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
Citizens did not have this right in 1993. However, the constitutional commission presented the draft constitution to the President in December 1992, and the NRC passed the Constituent Assembly Statute in April 1993. The Statute established the composition and duties of the Assembly, which will debate and enact a new constitution, and created an independent election commission tasked with laying the groundwork for and conducting elections. The Assembly has a mandate of 4 months, with one 3-month extension, to prepare a final constitution. The NRC is planning elections for President and Members of Parliament in 1994, following the enactment of this new constitution. The Constituent Assembly will have 288 members: 214 elected directly, 39 women elected within the RC's, 10 delegates for the army, 10 presidential appointees, 2 delegates for each of the 4 established political parties, plus representatives for youth (4), labor (2), and the disabled (1). Until the new constitution is in place and elections are held, President Museveni, who was never elected and has never faced a vote of confidence, continues to hold power as Chief Executive, Minister of Defense, and Chairman of the National Resistance Council. Although he has avoided serious confrontations with major institutions and interest groups (including the parties), there are few meaningful checks and balances on his presidential power. Museveni has publicly stated his opposition to multiparty politics, but he also has said repeatedly that he will accept such a system if it emerges from the deliberations on the new constitution. In July the NRC, at Museveni's urging, restored Uganda's four kingdoms in cultural terms only (without political power), a move which won him support from the 4 million Baganda. There are no restrictions in law on the participation of women in politics. Women hold positions of responsibility at all levels of the 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 hold 39 of the 264 positions; 4 of the 39 government ministers, deputy ministers, and ministers of state are women.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
Of 10 nongovernmental human rights organizations, 4 actively monitor human rights cases: the Foundation for Human Rights Initiatives (FHRI), the Uganda Human Rights Activists, the Ugandan Law Society, and the Ugandan chapter of the International Women's Lawyers Association (FIDA). In October FHRI published the first edition of its journal, The Human Rights Defender. The Uganda Human Rights Activists publish a quarterly review of the human rights situation in the country and have moved toward an educational role in sponsoring seminars on human rights throughout the country. The Law Society focuses on human and legal rights and defending the independence of the judiciary. Members of the Society defend political figures indicted by the Government. FIDA concentrates on cases involving women and children. All of these groups operate without government interference. In February President Museveni directed that human rights subcommittees be set up in the RC's in every district to monitor local human rights violations. A Human Rights Desk was established in the Ministry of Justice to produce reports from these subcommittees. The desk has begun functioning but has not produced any reports. The NRC created the Uganda Human Rights Commission to investigate abuses perpetrated before 1986. The Commission has heard public testimony from over 1,000 witnesses. Its report is scheduled for release in March 1994. The Government allows access to international human rights monitoring groups, but few such groups came to Uganda in 1993. However, ministers, attorneys (including the President of the American Bar Association), parliamentarians, and journalists from a wide variety of countries came to Uganda to investigate the human rights situation. Internationally published reports on Uganda's human rights are given broad publicity in the private and official media.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status
Traditional discrimination against women continues, especially in rural areas. "Customary" laws disadvantageous to women are still recognized 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. Adultery by men is treated more leniently than adultery by women. Women cannot sponsor a foreign-born spouse or the children of such a union for Ugandan citizenship, whereas foreign women who marry Ugandans and the children of those marriages automatically receive Ugandan citizenship. 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. There are an increasing number of public education projects which emphasize a woman's right to be free of sexual exploitation, but to date they have had little effect. The Government has made efforts to redress discrimination based on sex, including specific provisions in the draft constitution on women's rights and designating special women's seats in the Constituent Assembly that is to debate the constitution. A Ministry of Women, Youth, and Culture was established in 1988, but it receives the smallest budget of any ministry. The Ugandan branch of FIDA is currently undertaking a 3-year research and law reform program focusing on women (1992-95). FIDA opened a legal aid clinic in Kampala in early 1992 and provides free legal advice to women. FIDA lawyers also provide information on Ugandan law to women in rural areas and carried out a project in writing wills to strengthen women's inheritance rights.
The Government has severely limited budgetary resources devoted to child welfare; however, the Uganda National Programme of Action for Children in the 1990's outlined priorities for social services development for children and women. The 1993/94 budget report by the Ministry of Finance noted the importance of primary education; health programs such as infant immunization, malnutrition, and disease and diarrheal control for children; a sensitization campaign for the public about the rights of children; resettlement of children from orphanages, and continued rehabilitation of children's custodial institutions. Child abuse continues to be a problem in Uganda. A 1990 law defined the age of a minor victim of defilement as 13. In 1993 the NRC amended the law to cover all minor children under 18. Accusations of defilement and prosecutions under the law occur, but convictions and punishment are rare. The press reports regularly on cases of defilement, with victims, mostly girls, of increasingly younger ages. Observers attribute the growing number of reports of child beating and molestation to the breakdown of the traditional village family structure and to stresses induced by economic problems, alcohol abuse, and social dislocations. A Ugandan chapter of the African Network for Prevention and Protection Against Child Abuse and Neglect formed in 1993 and began an educational campaign on the issue. Female genital mutilation (circumcision) is not widespread, but some communities in eastern Uganda subject young females to it. There is no law against the practice; the Government is working to stamp it out through education. An international seminar in September, including the Government and the World Health Organization among its sponsors, publicly condemned the practice. A large number of children have lost at least one parent to war or disease; the number of orphans is thought to exceed 1 million. These children migrate to towns and trading centers and may be treated roughly by police or employers. Corporal punishment is not condoned by the Government but is common in some schools.
Africans of about 40 ethnic groups constitute the vast majority of the population of Uganda, with tiny percentages of Asians and Europeans. Asians, expelled by former president Idi Amin in the early 1970's, are returning 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 Bakonjo of the Ruwenzori Mountains, who were once slaves within the traditional kingdoms, and the Karamajong, independent cattle herders in eastern Uganda described as violent and underdeveloped by other Ugandans. Neither of these groups participates fully in Ugandan society, government, or educational institutions.
People with Disabilities
The Government has not legislated accessibility for the disabled. The proposed Constituent Assembly is slated to have one representative for the disabled. Provisions to protect the disabled are included in the draft constitution. Widespread discrimination by society and employers limits job opportunities for those with physical disabilities; most are self-employed or are beggars. Educational opportunities, however, exist for those who can afford standard school fees. A small office within the Ministry of Local Government tries to assist disabled Ugandans, but it is hampered by lack of funding.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
Ugandan labor law is undergoing major reform. Uganda has adopted a tripartite (government-employer-worker) cooperative approach to labor issues. The Government, in the midst of structural adjustment, is reviewing its laws and institutions in the labor field and vetting them with the International Labor Organization (ILO). In 1993 civil servants were permitted to join and form unions, a right previously reserved for private sector workers. Certain categories of 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), with 15 labor unions, is the only labor federation in Uganda. Proposed legislation will reaffirm a single umbrella organizational system, but will not prevent multiple unions within individual industries. NOTU is independent of the Government and political parties. It publishes a periodic newspaper on labor issues, NOTU Speaks. NOTU's influence on the overall economy remains marginal since about 90 percent of the Ugandan work force consists of peasant farmers. Even among industrial workers, high communications costs and lack of transportation have made it difficult for individual unions to organize, especially outside the major commercial centers of Kampala and Jinja. The right to strike is recognized by law, but the Government expects all efforts at reconciling labor disputes to be exhausted before workers resort to strikes. They must first submit their grievances and notice to strike to the Minister of Labor. Under the Trades Disputes Arbitration and Settlement Act, an Industrial Court hears trade disputes referred to it, either by the Minister of Labor or the parties to the dispute. NOTU has proposed that the right to strike be recognized in the future constitution. There is no law prohibiting retribution against strikers. At least 14 strikes occurred in 1993, including: African textile mill workers and Sanwa electrical workers in April; the magistrates in Mbale in May; the Uganda Cooperative Transport Workers, lecturers at the National Teachers' College, Uganda Fisheries Enterprises workers, and Uganda Polytechnic lecturers and students in June; doctors and workers at the Kyamulibwa Medical Research Center in July; Nyanza textiles workers in August; laborers at the Kakira Sugar Estate and Crown Bottlers factory in September. In September workers of GM Combined Uganda Ltd. (a detergent company) struck for payment of salary arrears, and workers of Match International went on strike for nonpayment of wages. In October workers at the Mandela Freedom International Stadium at Namboole went on strike demanding higher wages. The Uganda Cooperative Transport Workers Union sponsored the largest strike in 1993. Violence followed unsuccessful wage negotiations at the Kakira Sugar Estate, when some strikers burned over 2,000 acres of sugar cane and destroyed machinery. The only strike that resulted in higher wages was that of the Kakira Sugar workers. A tripartite committee composed of NOTU, the Federation of Ugandan Employers, and government ministries is reviewing Uganda's labor legislation. The Cabinet passed on to the NRC draft laws on employment and workers' compensation. Other legislation on industrial trade unions, a minimum wage, social security, disputes and arbitration, occupational health and safety, and hygiene were in various stages of review at year's end. "Labor" is slated to elect two representatives for seats in the future Constituent Assembly. NOTU freely exercises the right to affiliate with and participate in regional and international labor organizations.
b. The Right To Organize and Bargain Collectively
The right to organize and bargain collectively is recognized by law and established in practice. On July 31, the law giving workers the right to form unions was liberalized to include civil servants and Bank of Uganda employees. Agriculture is the backbone of the economy, employing 80 percent of the population. The modern sector employs only an estimated 400,000 persons. The Government is the largest employer in the country. According to the 1988-89 census, about 20 percent of all workers in Uganda are unionized. While unionization and collective bargaining are common in the industrial wage sector, they are much less significant in the agricultural sector. A National Union of Plantation and Agricultural Workers exists, but the vast majority of small cultivators organize themselves on the basis of cooperatives for the purpose of selling their crops. Union officials are not harassed, and unions have access to the tripartite Industrial Court. However, the Court suffers from lack of resources, and some of its decisions have been overruled by the Government. There is no law prohibiting antiunion discrimination by employers. There are no export processing zones.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Compulsory labor is prohibited by law. There is evidence, however, that forced prison labor is employed on private farms and construction sites. There are no reports of forced labor in export industries.
d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
Although employers are prohibited from employing workers below the age of 18, many children are employed in the informal sector out of economic necessity. There is no child labor in the formal sector or export industries. The Ministry of Social Services is charged with enforcing the law on child labor. There are no minimum education requirements.
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
No explicit minimum wage policy exists in Uganda. Wages are set by negotiation between unions and employers or by the boards of directors of state-owned industries. Wages in general are low, and many civil servants and other workers find second jobs, grow their own food, or engage in pilferage or corruption in order to feed their families and pay school fees. Although there is no legal maximum workweek, the normal workweek is 48 hours, and time and a half is paid for each additional hour worked. The only occupational health and safety legislation in place is contained in the outdated Factories Act of 1954, which concentrates on engineering aspects of work and does not address many present-day working hazards. It is enforced by the Ministry of Labor's Department of Occupational Health, but in practice little inspection takes place due to lack of resources. A proposed law on occupational health and safety was sent to the ILO in Geneva for review in 1993.