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Uganda: Uganda Young Democrats (UYD); treatment by the military and the police; formalities of joining; proof of membership issued; arrests in 1999-2000; detention in "safe houses," deaths attributed to torture in 2000

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 12 March 2001
Citation / Document Symbol UGA36470.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Uganda: Uganda Young Democrats (UYD); treatment by the military and the police; formalities of joining; proof of membership issued; arrests in 1999-2000; detention in "safe houses," deaths attributed to torture in 2000, 12 March 2001, UGA36470.E, available at: [accessed 18 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The Uganda Young Democrats (UYD) is a Youth wing of the opposition Democratic Party (DP) (The Monitor 25 Aug. 2000]. The UYD is reportedly divided between those who support presidential aspirant Dr. Kizza Besigye and those who support Francis Bwengye, a DP presidential candidate (The Monitor 17 Jan. 2000). According to The Monitor, the secretary-general of the UYD, Michael Mabikke, is campaigned for Dr. Besigye, one of the candidates in the presidential election of 7 March 2000 (8 Feb. 2001).

Members of the UYD, including Michael Mabikke, have reportedly experienced harassment in the past (ibid.; AFP 10 June 2000). In June 2000, Ugandan police reportedly broke up a UYD "youth league meeting in southwest Uganda and arrested some of its leaders ... in 1998, armed police routinely broke up the group's meetings, provoking protests from international human rights groups" (ibid.). In August 2000, police arrested two UYD officials, Michael Mabike and Godfrey Mutebi at the border with Kenya and transferred them to the capital city, Kampala (The Monitor 25 Aug. 2000).

"Safe houses" are reportedly "ungazetted premises" established in 1998 to interrogate individuals suspected of "treason and terrorism" (Daily Nation 3 Dec. 1998). According to the Daily Nation, Uganda's Minister for Internal Affairs explained that the establishment of "safe houses" was justified "because of the need to interrogate suspects in a quiet environment and minimising chances of the suspects being influenced by outside forces" (ibid.). This information is corroborated by the Army spokesman who confirmed that safe houses were created in 1998 "by a commitee of national security agencies to keep bomb suspects from mixing with detainees and prisoners in the existing security infrastructure in the country. We feared that bomb suspects could recruit these other inmates" (New Vision 28 Feb. 2001).

According to New Vision, The Sunday Times of London had described "safe houses" as "torture houses" where civilians are detained, interrogated and tortured without charge (ibid.). However, the Army spokesman denied their existence saying that "safe houses are things of the past. Whoever doubts that can contact the Uganda Human Rights Commission" (ibid.).

Information on formalities for joining the UYD, proof of membership, arrests, torture during detention and deaths attributed to this torture in 2000 could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Agence France Presse (AFP). 10 June 2001. "Ugandan Police Break Up Oppostion Meeting, Arrest Organisers." (NEXIS)

Associated Press (AP). 4 July 2000. Henry Wasswa. "Museveni Now Prepared to Countenance Multipartyism." (NEXIS)

Daily Nation [Nairobi]. 3 December 1998. Wairagala Wakabi. "Torture Tag Stains Ugandan Security." [Accessed:7 Mar. 2001]

Human Rights Watch. October 1999. Hostile to Democracy: The Movement System and Political Repression in Uganda. New York: Human Rights Watch.

The Monitor [Kampala]. 8 February 2001. "Besigye, UYD Official Turns Museveni Down." [Accessed: 15 Feb. 2001]

_____. 25 August 2000. David Musengeri. "Uganda: UYD Bosses Arrested in Busia." (NEXIS)

_____. 17 January 2001. Okoth Leah. "Young Democrats Support Bwengye/" [Accessed: 15 Feb. 2000]

New Vision [Kampala]. 28 February 2001. Emmy Allio. "Paper Cites Torture." [Accessed: 7 Mar. 2001]

Additional Sources Consulted


Resource Centre. Country File. Uganda.

One oral source contacted did not provide information on the requested subject.

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Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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