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Uganda: Evidence of harassment or discrimination against Muslims by government forces (1990s)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 15 January 2001
Citation / Document Symbol UGA36317.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Uganda: Evidence of harassment or discrimination against Muslims by government forces (1990s), 15 January 2001, UGA36317.E, available at: [accessed 24 October 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.

According to 2000 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, government relations with the Islamic community, estimated at 16 per cent of the population, "have been significantly improved following the release in March 2000 of 56 members of the Muslims Tabliq group who were accused of treason" (5 Sept. 2000). The report states that "Muslims and adherents of other minority religions occupy position of authority in local and central government. Muslim prisoners usually are released from work duties during the month of Ramadan." (ibid.).

However, various sources describe the relationship between the Ugandan authorities and members of the Islamic community during the 1990s in the following terms.

Reporting on human rights developments in Uganda during 1999, HRW revealed that:

The Ugandan army has responded to the ADF [Allied Democratic Defence Forces] guerrilla campaign by arresting many civilians, mostly Muslims, on suspicion of collaborating with the rebels. Treason suspects interviewed by Human Rights Watch have consistent testimony on torture by Ugandan army soldiers, and some showed researchers their injuries, which were consistent with their testimonies (HRW 1999).

According to Country Reports 1999 Ugandan "securities forces continued to harass and detain Muslims" (2000, Sect. 2.c). However, referring to non identified reports, Country Reports 1999 added that most of the 30 to 40 Muslim men believed to be detained at the end of 1998 were released during 1999 (ibid.)

In its 1999 Annual Report, Amnesty International wrote that in Uganda,

prisoners of conscience were among hundreds of political prisoners arrested during the year, scores of whom were detained incommunicado in secret detention centres. Muslims were particularly targeted.

Over 100 Muslims political prisoners, the majority from the Islamist Jumaiyat Da'awa Salafiyya sect, were arrested in Kampala and other places in south and west Uganda on suspicion of involvement with the ADF and other armed opposition.

According to a 24 September 1998 Amnesty International (AI) Urgent Action, about 18 persons, all believed to be Muslims, were arrested without charge in Kampala and in the eastern Ugandan town of Tororo by the Uganda Anti-Terrorism Squad, following the bombing of the US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania (24 Sept. 1998).

A report from the European Platform for Conflict Prevention and Transformation, a network of European non-governmental organizations involved in the prevention and/or resolution of violent conflicts in the international arena, revealed that "following the bomb attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in the summer of 1998, Ugandan authorities have stepped up efforts to monitor the activities of Muslims, who in total constitute some ten per cent of the population." (Oct. 1999).

In 29 July 1998 testimony before the House Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights and the Subcomittee on Africa of the United States of America, Jemera Rone of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) declared that in Uganda, "Muslims are only about 10 percent of the population, and they are not Arabs but a religious minorities that has suffered discrimination."

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.


Amnesty International (AI). 1999. Amnesty International Annual Report 1999: Uganda. [Accessed 12 Jan. 2001].

_____. 24 September 1998. Urgent Action: Uganda: Incommunicado Detention Without Charge or trial/Fear for Torture. (AI Index: AFR 59/03/98). London: Amnesty International.

Annual Report on International Religious Freedom. 5 September 2000. United States Department of State. Washington, D C. [Accessed 11 Jan. 2001]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1999. 2000. United States, Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 10 Jan. 2001]

European Platform for Conflict Prevention and Transformation (EPCPT) [Utrecht, The

Netherlands]. October 1999. "Uganda: Explosive Mix of Problems Could Re-ignite Civil War." [Accessed 12 Jan. 2001]

Human Rights Watch (HRW). 1999. "Human Rights Watch Background Briefing: The Killing of Eight Foreign Tourists in Uganda and the Security Situation in the Great Lakes Regions." [Accessed 10 Jan. 2001]

_____. 29 July 1998. Jemera Rone. "Crisis in Sudan and Northern Uganda": Background to the War in Uganda. Testimony before the House Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights and the Subcomittee on Africa. [Accessed 10 Jan. 2001]

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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