President Yoweri Museveni, elected to a 5-year term in 1996 under the 1995 Constitution, continued to dominate the Government. He has ruled since 1986 through the National Resistance Movement, legislatively reorganized and renamed as "The Movement" in 1995. The Constitution provides for a 281-member unicameral parliament and an autonomous, independently elected president. The 1996 presidential and parliamentary elections were peaceful and orderly, but election conditions, including restrictions on political party activities, led to a flawed election process. The Constitution formally extended the one-party movement form of government for 5 years and severely restricted political activities. In June a national referendum on the role of political parties resulted in the indefinite extension of the Movement form of government. The referendum process was flawed by restrictions on political party activities and unequal funding. The Parliament acted with continued independence and assertiveness during the year, although Movement supporters remained in control of the legislative branch. Parliamentarians were elected to 5-year terms in 1996. The judiciary generally is independent, but is understaffed and weak; the President has extensive legal powers.
The Uganda People's Defense Force (UPDF) is the key security force. The Constitution provides for civilian control of the UPDF, with the President designated as commander in chief. The UPDF remained active due to the continued instability in the north and west and because of the country's involvement in the conflict in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). UPDF soldiers and members of local defense units (LDU's) assist the police in rural areas, although the LDU's continued to operate without a legal mandate; LDU's operate under the authority of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The Internal Security Organization (ISO) remained under the direct authority of the President. Although the ISO primarily is an intelligence-gathering body, its operatives occasionally detained civilians. The Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), under UPDF control, also detained civilians suspected of rebel and terrorist activity. The police are organized as a national force under the authority of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The UPDF, police, LDU's, and the DMI all committed serious human rights abuses.
The economy grew at a rate of approximately 5 percent during the year. Annual gross domestic product (GDP) remained at $330 per capita. Foreign economic assistance provides approximately 50 percent of government revenues. The agriculturally based economy continued to rely on coffee as its chief export. Foreign investment remained at approximately 4 percent of GDP amid chronic corruption, a troubled macroeconomic reform process, and continuing concerns about regional security in the wake of the country's intervention in the DRC. The pace of the privatization process increased due to the Government's privatization of the telecommunications system and a major parastatal, the Kakira Sugar Works; the Government began preparations to privatize all remaining parastatals. The financial sector strengthened due to improved lending practices and more stringent supervision by the central bank.
The Government's human rights record was poor, and, although there were improvements in several areas, there continued to be numerous, serious problems. Movement domination of the political process limited the right of citizens to change their government. Security forces used excessive force, at times resulting in death, and committed or failed to prevent some extrajudicial killings of suspected rebels and civilians. Police, LDU, and DMI forces regularly beat and sometimes tortured suspects and other persons, often to force confessions. A highly publicized 1999 inquiry into police corruption uncovered numerous serious abuses committed by senior officers and resulted in the arrest of several officers on charges of extortion. There were a number of cases in which the Government detained and charged UPDF and LDU members for human rights abuses. Prison conditions remained harsh and life-threatening. Members of the security forces sometimes arbitrarily arrested and detained civilians. Authorities used incommunicado detention. Despite measures to improve the discipline and training of security forces, and despite the punishment of some security force officials guilty of abuses, abuses by the security forces at times resulted in deaths and remained a problem throughout the country. Prolonged pretrial detention remained a problem. Poor judicial administration, lack of resources, a large case backlog, and lengthy trial delays circumscribed due process and the right to a fair trial. The UPDF at times infringed on citizens' privacy rights. The Government generally respected freedom of speech and of the press; however, there were some instances in which restrictions continued. The Government restricted freedom of assembly and association, and the constitutional restrictions on political activity effectively continued to limit these rights further; however, political parties operated with fewer restrictions than in previous years. There were some limits on freedom of movement. The Movement Secretariat, supported with government funds, oversaw internal organizational activity, strategy, and mobilization, and following the June referendum, the Government continued its Movement political education courses. Domestic violence against women, rape, and abuse of children remained serious problems. Discrimination against women and the disabled persisted. The Government worked with nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) to combat the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), which occurred on a limited basis. Violence against ethnic minorities was a problem. There were some limits on worker rights. Forced labor, including by children, occurred, and child labor was common, mostly in the informal sector. There were reports of trafficking in persons. Vigilante justice also was a problem.
Insurgent forces committed numerous serious abuses. The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group active in the west, killed, tortured, maimed, and abducted many persons, including children. The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), led by Joseph Kony and supported by the Government of Sudan, operated in the north from bases in southern Sudan. LRA attacks increased during the year, and the LRA continued to kill and abduct civilians, including children.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
There were no confirmed reports of politically motivated killings by government forces; however, members of the security forces and the police committed extrajudicial killings. In the course of official operations, police, UPDF, LDU, and DMI personnel sometimes used excessive force, resulting in deaths (see Section 1.g.). On January 19, UDPF soldiers killed two LRA rebels wounded in an unsuccessful attack on the Paloga trading center, Gulu district. By year's end, there were no reports that any actions were taken against the officer who ordered the killings. On January 28, UPDF and police in the Kampala suburb of Kabalagala killed six persons after they allegedly robbed bus passengers of money and property and shot the driver. At year's end, there were no reports that any actions were taken against the UPDF and police officers involved.
Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that security officials mistreated Muslims or that Muslims suspected of being ADF rebel collaborators or involved in terrorist activities died as a result of torture by DMI officials.
There were allegations of human rights violations during fighting between UPDF and Rwandan army troops in Kisangani, DRC, in May and June, which resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths, over 1,700 persons injured (see Section 1.c.), and 60,000 displaced persons (see Section 2.d.). The most severe of these clashes occurred from June 5 to 11, during which time both forces shelled the city with artillery and mortar fire, destroying homes and much of the city's infrastructure. Credible sources from the DRC claim that Rwandan and Ugandan troops raped many women and shot persons during extensive fighting in the city. Humanitarian organizations reported that at least 400 Congolese civilians were killed during the fighting. Many persons died from injuries because they were unable to get medical attention; transportation to hospitals often was unavailable during the fighting. Many displaced persons remained at a camp outside of the city for several months because they feared to return to their homes. There was widespread reporting throughout the year of killings and other human rights abuses by both pro-DRC and anti-DRC government forces, including the UPDF, in the conflict in the DRC. There were reports that both Ugandan and Rwandan forces used landmines during the fighting in Kisangani; however, there were no reports of any deaths or injuries as a result of such landmines.
Verification of these reports was extremely difficult, particularly those emanating from remote areas and those affected by active combat, primarily in eastern DRC. Independent observers often found access difficult due to hazardous security conditions and frequent impediments imposed by authorities. Both pro- and anti-DRC Government forces used propaganda disseminated via local media extensively, including accusations of abuse by opposing forces, further complicating efforts to obtain accurate information regarding such events. On November 8, there were reports from the DRC that UPDF soldiers allegedly shot and killed nine persons at a wedding party in the village of Kikere, near Butembo, North Kivu Province, DRC; the soldiers believed the village to be sympathetic to the Mai Mai. The attack reportedly followed violent clashes between UPDF and Mai Mai forces in the surrounding area. The soldiers also allegedly set fire to houses in the village; 11 persons burned to death within the houses.
Throughout the year in the Ituri district in Orientale Province of the DRC, an area dominated by UPDF and UPDF-supported forces, fighting continued between members of the Lendu and Hema tribes, which reportedly killed thousands of persons and displaced tens of thousands of others. This fighting reportedly arose from a dispute about land use and also reportedly was manipulated by UPDF troops who charged the tribes fees in order to provide protection to their members. The Government arrested and detained two senior commanders for their actions during this conflict.
On May 19, an independent judicial commission of inquiry into corruption in the police force that began operating in 1999 submitted its report to the Minister of Internal Affairs. During the course of the investigation, the commission uncovered incidents of killings, brutality, theft, and robbery by police in general, and by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in particular. The commission's proceedings were open to the public and received extensive press coverage. The report was not made public officially by year's end, although several newspapers carried stories about the report.
Harsh conditions, some intentional mistreatment, and lack of adequate medical treatment caused many deaths in prison (see Section 1.c.).
Government cases against two UPDF soldiers accused of killing five youths in Fort Portal, Kabarole district, in 1999, still were pending at year's end. The 2 soldiers were on remand in Katojo prison facing murder charges; the 12 other soldiers involved in the incident were investigated and cleared of wrongdoing. At year's end, there was no action taken in a May 1999 case in which a police officer shot and killed an unarmed youth. A UPDF inquiry into an August 1999 case in which UPDF soldiers killed two rebel suspects in Lira was ongoing at year's end. There was no investigation nor action taken in a September 1999 case in which UPDF troops opened fire on members of two Karamojong clans that were engaged in a gun battle which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Karamojong warriors. There was no investigation into or action taken into two cases in July and October 1999 in which police beat to death prisoners in their custody.
Police continued investigations into the January 1998 death in police custody of a 25-year-old suspected thief and the August 1998 incident in which a prison official in Masaka beat to death a suspect on remand for defaulting on tax payments; however, it appeared unlikely that the cases will be closed. In February 1999, the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) referred for prosecution the case of three police officers accused of killing four robbery suspects in 1998; however, the Directorate for Public Prosecution's investigation was ongoing, and there were no prosecutions in connection with this incident by year's end. The LDU commander arrested in 1999 for the August 1998 death while in custody of two civilians in Kyankwanzi remained in detention awaiting trial at year's end. One police officer was committed to trial before the High Court for the June 1998 incident in which police fired on students at the Kabalega secondary school, killing one student. The case also was pending before the UHRC; however, the UHRC was scheduled to take up the case against after it is reviewed by the High Court.
Investigations into the 1997 deaths by torture of Paul Kollo and Stephan Baryakaijika were completed, and the government-sponsored UHRC heard the cases. In February the UHRC handed the cases over to the courts for prosecution; however, no action had taken place by year's end (see Section 1.c.). It was discovered during the year that the suspect arrested for the 1997 killing of Modesta Kabaranga, a leading organizer for the Democratic Party, was released in 1997; no additional action has taken place.
Vigilante justice was a problem (see Sections 1.c. and 5). Authorities rarely prosecuted persons engaged in mob violence, which frequently resulted in death. Most mob attacks resulted from petty crimes. There were numerous instances in which mobs beat to death or doused with petrol and then burned to death petty theft suspects.
Ritual murders of children remained a problem during the year (see Section 5).
Between February and July, raids by Karamojong warriors on neighboring districts in the northeast resulted in approximately 100 deaths. The raids were precipitated by drought during the year; however, the raids may have exacerbated ethnic tensions in the northeast (see Section 5).
The rebel ADF committed at least 210 extrajudicial killings, including killings of children (see Section 1.g.). LRA attacks increased during the year, and the LRA was responsible for the killing of approximately 175 civilians, including children (see Section 1.g.). On June 12, LRA rebels shot Kitgum Resident District Commissioner J.B. Ochaya while he was traveling near Gulu; he died on July 5. The rebels reportedly killed seven other persons in separate incidents at the same site. On October 1, LRA rebels shot and killed Father Raffale Di Bari of the Comboni Missionary Fathers outside of Kitgum. A nun and several children who were traveling with Di Bari were injured.
There were no credible reports that UNRF-II, USF/A, the Citizens Army for Multiparty Politics (CAMP), or Rwandan Hutu rebels were responsible for the death of civilians during the year (see Section 1.g.).
Unlike in previous years, there were no urban bombings in Kampala and other cities during the year; however, on October 11, 9 persons were killed and more than 40 were wounded in separate grenade attacks on 2 discos in Gulu. In October in a suburb of Kampala, there was a drive-by grenade attack. It was unknown whether there was a motive or if there were any injuries or deaths. It was unknown who was responsible for any of the attacks.
The LRA and the ADF reportedly used landmines. There were several incidents during the year in which civilians were killed by landmines placed by rebels. For example, on January 21, a landmine explosion killed a man at Opidi, Koch, west of Gulu Town; the LRA allegedly planted the landmine. Several children also were killed or injured after stepping on landmines.
There were no confirmed reports of politically motivated disappearances due to action by government forces. A number of Muslims, believed to be missing in 1999, were released (see Section 1.d.).
ADF and LRA rebels abducted civilians. Both the ADF and the LRA abducted civilians for training as guerrillas; most victims were children and young adults. NGO's estimated that the ADF abducted over 441 persons, including children. The LRA abducted approximately 700 persons, including young girls abducted as sex and labor slaves (see Sections 5, 6.c., and 6.f.). The ADF allegedly abducted approximately 30 Ugandan children during the year, in addition to an unknown number of Congolese children. An estimated 8,000 to 10,000 persons have been abducted by the ADF since 1986 and the LRA since 1987 (see Sections 5 and 6.c.). While some later escaped or were rescued, UNICEF estimated that 5,106 children abducted by the LRA since 1987 remain missing, an estimated 100 to 200 children abducted by the LRA during the year remained unaccounted for, and approximately 30 children abducted by the ADF remained missing at year's end (see Section 1.g.). NGO's estimated that since 1996 the ADF has abducted approximately 200 Ugandan children, and an unknown number of Congolese children, approximately 100 of these children remained unaccounted for at year's end. There have been reports in past years that Karamojong warriors have abducted children for similar reasons, and observers believe that some of these children still are being held.
Reportedly persons whom rebel, Rwandan, or Ugandan forces allegedly detained sometimes were transferred to Rwanda or Uganda.
There were reports from the DRC that UPDF and Rwandan troops, in addition to RCD rebels, reportedly abducted many young women from the villages they raided. These night raids on villages became so frequent that in many parts of the Kivu Provinces peasants slept in their fields.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The Constitution prohibits "any form of torture, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment;" however, security forces commonly beat and sometimes tortured criminal suspects, often to force confessions. Although UPDF forces in the north on occasion beat and abused civilians in the previous year, there were no reports of such abuse during the year.
On February 18, a police constable in Kayunga, Mukono district, allegedly tortured two civilians and demanded money in order to release them from jail. In March a police constable was arrested. The case was under investigation by the Mukono district police, and the constable remained in detention at year's end on charges of unlawfully detaining civilians and disobeying orders (see Section 1.d.).
Police at times harassed or beat journalists and opposition activists (see Sections 2.a., 2.b., and 3). On March 31, police and military police used batons, tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition to disperse an unauthorized rally in Mbarara (see Section 2.b.). Although there were reports of injuries, no one was killed. On April 21, police in Mbale beat Ahmed Washaki, an official of the Uganda People's Congress (UPC), and locked him in a toilet for allegedly campaigning against the referendum on political systems (see Section 1.d.). On June 25, police beat and arrested 11 Makerere University students after they disrupted a referendum rally held by the President. They subsequently were charged with misconduct and alarming the President and released on bail. On October 12, the charges of misconduct were dropped; however, their trial for alarming the President was ongoing at year's end (see Section 1.d.). On September 16, police violently dispersed a meeting of the Uganda Young Democrats in Gulu, which resulted in several injuries (see Section 2.b.).
In February businessman Charles Mpunga accused Major Kakooza Mutale, a presidential adviser on political affairs, of detaining and torturing him at Mbuya military barracks in January. In July the UHRC tribunal ruled that there was enough evidence to proceed with a case against Mutale; the UHRC charged and found him guilty of torture and illegal imprisonment. Mutale appealed the ruling to the High Court, claiming that the UHRC lacked jurisdiction. His case still was pending at year's end, and the UHRC was waiting for the High Court's ruling before penalizing Mutale.
On March 18, the UPDF arrested the UPDF reserve force commander for Tororo district for torturing civilians and beating two police officers on March 16. The commander remained in detention pending a court-martial at year's end. On August 3, the UHRC tribunal summoned the commanding officer of the UPDF presidential protection unit, Major Dick Bugingo, on charges that he tortured Sergeant Godfrey Mubiru in March. Bugingo's case was ongoing at year's end.
Fighting between UPDF and Rwandan army troops in Kisangani, DRC, in May and June resulted in over 400 civilian deaths and over 1,700 wounded (see Section 1.a.). There were reports from the DRC that UPDF and Rwandan soldiers allegedly raped women during extensive fighting in Kisangani in May and June (see Section 1.a.). There were reports that both UPDF and Rwandan forces used landmines during the fighting in Kisangani (see Section 1.a.). There were reports that UPDF officers and soldiers also were involved in the first half of the year in violence between the Hema and Lendu tribes in northeastern DRC that resulted in the deaths of thousands of Congolese civilians (see Section 1.a.). The Government arrested and detained two senior commanders for their actions during this conflict.
Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that security officials mistreated Muslims or that Muslims suspected of being ADF rebel collaborators or involved in terrorist activities died as a result of torture by DMI officials.
LDU's, which frequently lack training, often mistreat prisoners and detainees. For example, on July 21, police in Arua stopped a mob from lynching an LDU member after the LDU member hit a suspect with a baton.
The Government investigated some cases of abuse, and tried and punished some offenders. In 1999 the Government launched a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into police corruption. The Commission probed a wide range of police abuses, including abuses committed by senior police officials. The inquiry resulted in the arrests of several police officers on charges of abuse, rape, extortion, and robbery, including a police officer accused of raping a 16-year-old girl. The Commission presented its report to the Minister of Internal Affairs on May 19; however, the report had not been made public by year's end (see Section 1.a.). In February 1999, the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), an independent local human rights organization, began an investigation into allegations that two policemen, Moses Lutaya and Ephraim Magala, were tortured by their superiors during the same month for stealing bananas while on duty. In February 1999, FHRI found that the two were tortured under the orders of the Mpigi district police commander. Lutaya and Magala subsequently were compensated by the Mpigi district administration with approximately $750 (1.26 million shillings) and were reinstated in their jobs. The senior officers were transferred; however, no additional action was taken against them.
The police Human Rights Desk, established in 1998, received 630 new complaints, including allegations of excessive force, torture, assault, rape, and murder. Of these cases, 600 were resolved or were referred to the criminal or police disciplinary courts, some resulting in disciplinary actions, including reductions in rank, fines, halted promotions, and dismissals. A total of 30 cases were pending at year's end.
In conjunction with the UHRC, the police force continued a training program for police officials to foster respect for internationally recognized human rights standards. The UHRC and NGO's conducted similar programs with UPDF officials throughout the year.
On June 29, Kandida Lakony was released from Luzira Prison after serving her sentence for giving false information regarding a newspaper photograph (see Section 2.a.). The photograph depicted a naked woman being shaved forcefully by a group of men in military uniform; Lakony had claimed that she was the woman in the photograph and that UPDF soldiers in Gulu were responsible.
There was no investigation nor action taken in the 1999 case in which the badly mutilated body of Patrick Ocan was found after he had been seen in UPDF custody. There was no investigation nor action taken in the October 1999 case in which police beat a man while in custody in Buwenge, Jinja District; the man died after being released the following day.
There were no reported developments nor action taken in the February 1999 case in which two teenaged girls reportedly were raped by two LDU personnel at Kabujogera police post in Fort Portal. The accused were arrested pending a police investigation. There were no reported developments nor action taken in the August 1999 case in which an LDU member shot and wounded a businessman in Kisenyi, a suburb of Fort Portal. The LDU member reportedly was apprehended and detained by the UPDF.
In January the Deputy Chief of Military Intelligence, Noble Mayombo, settled out of court a 1998 case in which Peter Ongodia charged that Mayombo illegally ordered his arrest and torture.
In June the UHRC tribunal ruled that the former Permanent Secretary for Defense, Benjamin Mbonye, and Captain Sulait Mwesigye were responsible for the 1997 arrest and torture of a Corporal Sam Muwonge. The tribunal's assessment of damages was pending at year's end. The investigations into the 1997 deaths by torture of Paul Kollo and Stephan Baryakaijika were completed, and the cases were heard by the UHRC (see Section 1.a.). The investigation into the 1997 torture of Corporal Twasha Kaushera was abandoned by the UHRC after it failed to locate Kaushera.
There were numerous instances in which mobs attacked suspected thieves and other offenders caught in the commission of crimes (see Section 1.a.). Often motivated by widespread distrust of the justice system, these mobs engaged in stonings, beatings, and other forms of mistreatment, such as tying suspects' wrists and ankles together behind their backs, stripping suspects of their clothes and parading them through the streets, or forcing suspects to hop painfully on the sides of their ankles. Vigilantes also have stripped prostitutes who dress "indecently" or "provocatively."
The ADF continued to maim civilians, loot, and burn private homes. The LRA and the ADF reportedly used landmines, which caused some deaths and injuries (see Section 1.a.). The LRA engaged in looting and destruction of private property. The ADF and LRA also abducted children to be guerrillas; and the LRA in particular tortured children by beating them, forcing them to witness atrocities, forcing them to march until they collapsed, and denying them adequate food, water, or shelter (see Section 1.g.).
Unlike in the previous year, there were no urban bombings in Kampala and other cities; however, on October 11, there were 2 grenade attacks on separate discos in Gulu, which resulted in more than 40 injuries (see Section 1.a.).
Prison conditions remained harsh and life threatening. Conditions for the estimated 5,000 inmates in local police cells and in the 162 local prisons particularly were bad. Authority over the local prison system, formerly operated by the Ministry of Local Government, was scheduled to be transferred in 1998 to the state-funded and operated prison system, run by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The transfer had not taken place by year's end due to funding problems and lack of enabling legislation. Both civilian and military prisons have high mortality rates from overcrowding, malnutrition, diseases spread by unsanitary conditions, and HIV/AIDS.
No accurate estimates are available on the number of deaths in detention due to the harsh conditions and lack of medical care, although many such deaths have occurred; however, NGO's estimated that the mortality rate in the central prison system improved. The UHRC reported severely inadequate medical services, seriously unhygienic conditions, and a situation of "semi-starvation" among prisoners in many prisons. In March prisoners from Kanungu local administration prison in Rukungiri and suspects from Bushenyi police station were forced to exhume the bodies of persons killed in a massacre committed by a religious cult (see Sections 2.c. and 6.c.). Most prisoners did not have proper protective clothing. In May there were reports that prison authorities in Lira tortured four prisoners. On May 24, an UHRC investigator visited the prison and confirmed the abuse. The investigator also received complaints from female prisoners that they had been tortured by prison authorities. The UHRC tribunal is scheduled to begin hearings on the case in March 2001.
There were no developments in the investigation into the June 1999 death of Matia Kiwanuka Mulama, an inmate of Buikwe prison in the eastern part of the country, who reportedly was found dead after having been tortured by the chief warden. The harsh conditions largely resulted from the Government's seriously inadequate funding of prison facilities. Most of the prisons grow maize, millet, and vegetables, although the UHRC accused prison farms of overworking inmates. Prisoners received only $.0006 (1 shilling) per day for their labor, a rate established in the early 1960's (see Section 6.c.). Prison conditions come closest to meeting minimum international standards in Kampala, where prisons provide medical care, running water, and sanitation; however, these prisons also are among the most overcrowded. By one estimate, the country's prisons – all of which predate independence in 1962 – hold about three times their maximum planned capacity. Although the law provides for access to prisoners by their families, ignorance of this right and fear of prison authorities often limit family visits. The UHRC reported that it had received allegations that officers in charge of police cells sometimes demanded bribes to allow visits.
In May the President signed the Community Service Act, designed to reduce prison congestion by allowing minor offenders to do community service instead of being imprisoned; however, implementation of the act had not begun by year's end due to insufficient funding. On July 13, President Museveni pardoned and released 522 prisoners from Luzira prison on humanitarian grounds.
Women have segregated wings with female staff in most, but not all, prisons. According to human rights advocates, rape generally is not a problem, although female prisoners also suffered from severely substandard conditions. Due to lack of space in juvenile facilities, juveniles often were kept in prisons with adults. The central prison system maintained one juvenile prison and four lower security remand homes. School facilities and health clinics in all 5 institutions are defunct; prisoners as young as age 12 perform manual labor from dawn until dusk. Severe overcrowding also is a problem at juvenile detention facilities and in women's wings. The remand home in Kampala, designed for 45 inmates, holds 120 children.
The central prison system continued to work with NGO's and the donor community to improve prison buildings, water and sanitation systems, food, and uniforms. Progress has been marginal.
Government agencies have sponsored or participated in numerous conferences on the justice system and prison conditions, and worked closely with international and domestic human rights organizations on prison reform efforts. There were reports that mortality rates decreased following these activities.
Media access to prisons remained limited, but the Government permitted full access to prisons by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and local NGO's, principally the UHRC, the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, and the Uganda Prisoners' Aid Foundation. Since 1997 UHRC has carried out numerous prison visits and reported on its findings publicly. Prison authorities required advance notification of visits, a process that often was subject to administrative delays.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
Members of the security forces at times arrested and detained citizens arbitrarily. According to the Constitution, a suspect must be charged within 48 hours of arrest and be brought to trial or released on bail within 120 days (360 days for a capital offense). If the case has been committed to the court before the expiration of this period, the Constitution does not limit pretrial detention. The Constitution also provides that detainees should be informed immediately of the reasons for their detention; however, in practice the authorities enforced none of these procedural protections. Some laws conflict with the Constitution, for example, the Public Order and Security Act of 1967 (the Detention Order), which provides for unlimited detention without charge; however, these laws never have been invoked formally by the Government. Legal and human rights groups, including the UHRC, sharply criticized the excessive length of detention without trial – in many cases amounting to several years – for alleged offenses under other laws, which both violated the constitutional rights of the detainees and contributed substantially to prison overcrowding.
Arbitrary arrest is a problem. In March a police constable was arrested after he allegedly tortured two civilians and the case was under investigation at year's end (see Section 1.c.). In July the UHRC tribunal ruled that there was enough evidence to proceed with a case against Major Kakooza Mutale; he was charged with torture and illegal imprisonment after he allegedly detained and tortured a businessman at Mbuya military barracks in January (see Section 1.c.).
Arbitrary mass arrests known as "panda gari" remained a problem. On January 16, over 5,000 persons were arrested and detained for 24 hours during a joint operation conducted by mobile police and the UPDF in Gulu municipality. UPDF deserters were transferred to the military justice system, and 30 youths without identification papers were transferred to the police for prosecution.
Authorities arrested several religious leaders and church members during the year for incidents including killings, defilement, rape, abduction, theft, and unlawful assembly (see Section 2.c.). Their cases were in various stages of prosecution at year's end.
Police at times harassed and detained journalists and opposition activists (see Sections 2.a., 2.b., and 3). On April 21, police in Mbale beat Ahmed Washaki, an official of the Uganda People's Congress (UPC), and locked him in a toilet for allegedly campaigning against the referendum on political systems (see Sections 1.c. and 2.d.). On May 23, two Monitor reporters were briefly detained and questioned by the police after writing stories that speculated about government links to the Kanungu cult massacre (see Section 2.a.). On June 25, police beat and arrested 11 Makerere University students after they disrupted a referendum rally held by the President. They subsequently were charged with misconduct and alarming the President and were released on bail. On October 12, the charges of misconduct were dropped; however, their trial for alarming the President was ongoing at year's end (see Section 1.d.).
The rearrest of Muslim suspects following either their release on bail or acquittal was not a problem during the year. On March 15, authorities released 56 members of the Islamic Tabliq group who were arrested in 1995 on treason charges (see Section 2.c.). In June authorities released 28 members of the Islamic Tabliq group who had been rearrested in 1999 after an acquittal on murder charges. Another 2 suspects were released on November 6; however, the remaining 38 suspects chose to stand trial. They maintained that they were innocent of the charges.
The UPDF detained LRA child soldiers at Gulu military barracks for several months. There were reports that the military used the children to help find LRA landmines and arms caches (see Sections 5 and 6.c.).
Although they have no legal authority to make arrests, LDU's continued to arrest citizens on a regular basis.
Pretrial detainees comprise nearly three-fourths of the prison population. The average time in pretrial detention is between 2 to 3 years. An estimated 14,000 of the approximately 20,000 persons being held in the central prisons and in the local government-run prisons are pretrial detainees. Congestion and delays in the legal system have resulted in an increasing number of detainees each year; however, the number of criminal cases pending before the High Court decreased from 1,500 in 1999 to 143 cases during the year. A census of the central prison population conducted in 1999 indicated that at least one-sixth of the inmates were being detained beyond constitutional limits. The UHRC heard several cases during the year brought by prisoners challenging the length of their detention, and it was investigating a complaint from prisoners in Bugungu in Mukono district at year's end. On February 22, the Director of Public Prosecutions released a murder suspect who had spent 15 years on remand in Kumi district after withdrawing the charges against him. In February the Government reached an out-of-court settlement with Rajab Juma Rembe, who was detained in Lubiri barracks for 3 years in the early 1990's; in October Rembe received approximately $5,600 (10 million shillings) as compensation. On May 29, four suspects who had been held in Bushenyi local administration prison for over a year were released for lack of evidence.
In November 1999, more than 400 prisoners held on charges of treason without trial since at least 1997 staged a protest at Luzira prison in Kampala. The prisoners refused to return to their cells until they received assurances from the director of public prosecutions that their cases would be brought to court; all 400 were released by year's end.
In 1999 the Human Rights and Peace Center Prisons Project reported that 31 Congolese and Sudanese refugees were arrested in March 1997 on suspicion of aiding West Nile Bank Front (WNBF) rebels and detained without charge (see Section 2.d.). There were unconfirmed reports that authorities released the group in 1999.
There were no reported detentions of civilians in military barracks, and following pressure from local NGO's and media, the Government closed all unofficial, unregistered places of remand in 1999. There were reports that the DMI ordered prisoners held incommunicado in police station cells.
The Constitution does not prohibit forced exile; however, the Government does not use exile as a means of political control. In January the President signed an amnesty law covering all current and former rebels; the amnesty was extended for 6 months in July. Some former rebels returned to the country during the year to take advantage of the amnesty. Under the terms of the amnesty act, the Government released some persons convicted of treason and other suspects; however, by year's end the Government made only made limited progress in implementing provisions in the act related to the repatriation and resettlement of former rebels.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary; however, the President has extensive legal powers that influence the exercise of this independence. The President nominates, for the approval of Parliament, members of the Judicial Service Commission, which makes recommendations on appointments to the High Court, the Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court. The lower courts remained understaffed and weak.
The highest court is the Supreme Court, followed by (in descending order) the Court of Appeal (which also functions as the Constitutional Court for cases of first instance involving constitutional issues), the High Court, the Chief Magistrate's Court, and local council (LC) level 3 (subcounty) courts, LC level 2 (parish) courts, and LC level 1 (village) courts. A minimum of six justices may sit on the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal or Constitutional Court. In addition there are a few specialized courts that deal with industrial and other matters. The Industrial Court (IC), which arbitrates labor disputes, is parallel structurally to the chief magistrate's court. There also is a military court system.
Although once considered a useful innovation, the LC courts often are thought to be sources of injustice due to such factors as bribery and male dominance in rural areas. The LC courts have authority to settle civil disputes, including land ownership and payment of debts, and criminal cases involving children. These courts, often the only ones available to villagers, frequently exceed their authority by hearing criminal cases, including murder and rape. LC court decisions may be appealed to magistrate's courts, but often there are no records made 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 the right of appeal to higher courts; however, an inadequate system of judicial administration and a lack of resources, resulting in a serious backlog of cases, have circumscribed the right to a fair trial for many years. The courts, like other branches of government, were impaired by a 4-year civil service hiring freeze, which was relaxed only somewhat in 1998. As a result, criminal cases may take 2 or more years to reach the courts. The case backlog in the High Court, which had increased every year since 1993, was eliminated largely by year's end. Attorneys working in the Office of the Public Prosecutor can be assigned several new cases each day. Some courts continued to observe the constitutionally prescribed limits on pretrial detention, but that practice was not widespread. All nonmilitary trials are public.
Many defendants cannot afford legal representation. The Constitution requires that the Government provide an attorney for indigent defendants accused of capital offenses, but there is rarely enough money to retain adequate counsel. The Uganda Law Society operates legal aid clinics in four regional offices, although its services declined due to limited funding. It assists military defendants as well as civilians. The local chapter of Federacion Internacional de Abogadas (FIDA) and the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative also practice public-interest law from offices in Kampala. In 1999 the Law Development Center established a legal aid clinic to address cases involving children and those accused of petty crimes. A public defense service also was established in 1999, but it did not receive any government funding. It relied solely on donor support.
The military court system does not assure the right to a fair trial. Although the accused has the right to retain legal counsel, military defense attorneys often are 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 can include the death penalty, may be appealed to the High Command but not to the High or Supreme Courts. A court-martial appeals process was established in 1997.
The Government continued to arrest and charge persons for treason, especially captured rebel fighters, in numbers greater than the judicial system could manage. In the past, numerous human rights abuses were committed in connection with treason cases, including political detention, detention without charge, detention in unregistered and unofficial places of remand, and mistreatment, including torture. There were reports that at times such abuses continued during the year. At year's end, prison officials put the number of those on remand on the charge of treason at 226, none of whom were children. Detainees included members of the Islamic Tabliq group suspected of supporting ADF rebels. The Government released treason convicts and suspects under the terms of an amnesty act signed by the President in January (see Section 1.d.). In November 1999, more than 400 prisoners held without trial since at least 1997 held a protest at Luzira prison; all 400 were released by year's end (see Section 1.d.).
There is one political prisoner. Bright Gabula Africa, whose death sentence for treason (plotting an armed coup) was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1995, remained imprisoned pending the outcome of his appeal to the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy, a largely autonomous constitutional body that recommends whether presidential clemency powers should be exercised in a given case.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The Constitution provides for the protection of privacy, which the Government generally observes; however, there were some exceptions. The law requires that police have search warrants before entering private homes or offices, and the police generally observed this law in practice. Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that the UPDF invaded private homes without warrants. LDU's arrested citizens without authority. The police sometimes searched vehicles without prior warrants. Prison officials routinely censored prisoners' mail.
The Government required that employees in the President's office register their political affiliation in writing (see Section 3).
Although fighting between government forces and the LRA continued, there were no reports during the year that government forces used threats to compel citizens to leave their homes because of the conflict.
Hundreds of thousands of persons remain internally displaced as a result of rebel activity and raids by Karamojong warriors (see Sections 1.g. and 2.d.).
Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), supported by UPDF forces, forcibly recruited Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda for service in Sudan.
Female members of the police force are required to obtain permission from the police Inspector General before marrying. Male police officers are not subject to the same restriction (see Section 5).
g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal Conflicts
Reports of violations of humanitarian law increased in the north, and remained a problem in the west. While the number of reported violations by the Government decreased during the year, such violations by the LRA increased. In the north, government forces continued their policy of maintaining so-called protected villages with UPDF detachments nearby as a means of protecting civilians and denying support to the LRA. Although substantial NGO and donor community assistance has improved the overall conditions in the villages, conditions still remain poor. The Government failed to provide adequate security to the villages, which were the targets of rebel attacks.
There were reports that civilians were killed and injured during fights between UPDF forces and rebels. On June 6, several persons were killed during a battle between UPDF forces and LRA rebels near Okina and Laguti.
LRA attacks increased during the year, and there were numerous incidents of attacks on villages and displaced camps in which villagers were killed, injured, raped, or abducted (see Section 2.d.). In the north, forces of the LRA, led by Joseph Kony, continued to attack civilian targets, as well as refugee camps. During the year, attacks by the LRA resulted in approximately 175 deaths and numerous injuries and the destruction of homes and property. On March 5, LRA rebels attacked Padibe displaced camp in Kitgum, killing 12 persons, wounding 30, and burning 800 huts. On March 12, LRA rebels attacked Cwero protected village in Gulu and abducted 10 persons. On August 16, LRA rebels again attacked Cwero protected village, abducting one person. No new incidents of mutilation were reported.
The LRA abducted approximately 700 civilians, many of whom later were released. The LRA continued to abduct children and, at clandestine bases, terrorized them into virtual slavery as guards, concubines, and soldiers (see Sections 6.c. and 6.f.). In addition to being beaten, raped, and forced to march until exhausted, abducted children were forced to participate in the killing of other children who attempted to escape. NGO's estimated the number of abducted children still held captive by the LRA at 1,500; other estimates vary widely (see Sections 1.b. and 6.f.).
In the west and southwest, the ADF continued to attack civilian targets, trading centers, and private homes, resulting in hundreds of deaths, injuries, and abductions. The ADF killed at least 210 persons and abducted an estimated 30 children during the year (see Sections 1.a., 1.b., 1.c., 5, 6.c., and 6.f.). Since 1996 the ADF has abducted approximately 200 children, approximately half of whom remained missing at year's end.
Due to insecurity in northern areas of the country, the UHRC suspended its investigation into a 1998 incident in which UPDF forces, while combating suspected LRA rebels, reportedly killed 30 Acholi children abducted by the LRA in Ogok village, Kitgum district.
In January the President signed a 6-month blanket amnesty for rebel fighters. The amnesty was renewed for 6 months in July; however, by year's end, the Government only had begun to implement provisions in the amnesty act related to the repatriation and resettlement of former rebels.
There were no reports of new attacks by the WNBF, USF/A, CAMP, or Rwandan Hutu rebels (see Section 1.b.).
At year's end, approximately 610,000 citizens remained displaced internally by violence in the north, west, and northeast, according to the U.N. Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs (see Section 2.d.).
2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the Government generally respected these rights; however, there were instances in which the Government infringed on these rights. Police at times harassed journalists by holding them at police stations for several hours of questioning. On May 23, two Monitor reporters were briefly detained and questioned by the police after writing stories that speculated about government links to the Kanungu cult massacre (see Section 1.d.). In December the Government temporarily banned the regular opinion columns of four journalists with the government-owned New Vision newspaper due to past commentary critical of the Government; the columns of three of the journalists were reinstated 3 weeks later. The fourth journalist transferred to another paper.
Three editors of the Monitor newspaper were arrested in 1999 and charged with sedition and publication of false news in connection with a case in which a woman, Kandida Lakony, claimed to have been abused by the UPDF (see Section 1.c.). The editors were released and their case was pending before the courts at year's end.
The New Vision, a government-funded daily newspaper with a daily circulation of 35,000 (and up to 10 readers sharing each copy), and the government-controlled Radio Uganda, continued to play major roles in the media. These news sources were of a fairly high quality and sometimes included reporting critical of the Government.
The media generally are free and outspoken, with widespread availability of privately owned publications. The independent Monitor newspaper, with a daily circulation of 22,000, consistently was critical of the Government. The East African, a Nairobi, Kenya-based weekly publication that provides extensive reporting on the country, continued to circulate without government hindrance.
The Government controls one television station and Radio Uganda, the radio station with the largest audience. At year's end, there were more than 19 radio stations throughout the country. There were five local television stations and more than a dozen private television stations available via satellite. The number of independent media broadcast sources increased during the year. Several independent media outlets broadcast daily political talk shows in several languages, often very critical of the Government and individual officials, including the President. High-ranking officials often participated in these programs and debated issues with political opponents. There was no censorship of these programs.
On February 21, two journalists from the Voice of Toro radio station were arrested and charged with publishing false news stemming from an erroneous report of a rebel attack on February 15. On October 26, the Chief Magistrate's Court in Fort Portal dismissed the case due to lack of evidence.
Newspaper, radio, and television coverage, in particular coverage by state-owned media, of the June referendum favored Movement activities. Activities by opposition parties and efforts to promote the multiparty system received minimal coverage by any media (see Section 3).
The Press and Media Law, which took effect in 1995, requires journalists to be licensed and to meet certain standards, including holding a university degree. The law provides for a Media Council that can suspend newspapers and deny access to state information. Government officials have not enforced the law since its enactment.
Uncensored Internet access is widely available in major cities through three commercial service providers, although the cost for connectivity is prohibitive for all but the most affluent noninstitutional users. There also are over a dozen cyber cafes in Kampala and other cities, and several NGO's offer Internet access.
A considerable degree of academic freedom exists at the two public and six private universities. Students and faculty have sponsored wide-ranging political debates in open forums on campus.
Political education and military science courses known as "Chaka Mchaka" were suspended prior to the June referendum on political systems but resumed in August. These courses are criticized as indoctrination in Movement political philosophy. There continued to be reports that the techniques used in some of the courses included intimidation and physical and mental abuse. There also were reports that some instructors demanded payment for the courses, and unconfirmed reports that persons were coerced to take them, sometimes at gunpoint.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The Constitution provides for some degree of freedom of assembly for non-political groups; however, the Government restricts this right in practice. The Constitution bans political parties from holding national conventions, issuing platforms, endorsing candidates, or opening branch offices outside the capital, and on several occasions police disrupted or prevented political demonstrations and other events; although the ban was intended to be replaced following the referendum, new legislation that would regulate political party activities had not been enacted by year's end. The Constitution also forbids other activities that would interfere with the Movement system, an elastic provision that the Government, in the past, has interpreted adversely to the detriment of political groups' interests. Permits are not required; however, groups are required to notify the police prior to public gatherings. Police denied permission to hold public rallies to several non-Movement groups during the year.
In February police in Bushenyi dispersed a seminar organized by the Free Movement, a political pressure group. On March 3, police in Kampala stopped a rally to campaign for a federal political system. On March 31, police and military police forcibly dispersed a rally in Mbarara held by Nasser Sebaggala, a candidate in the next presidential election (see Section 1.c.). On April 1, Sebaggala held another rally without police intervention to protest the referendum and to campaign. In April Sebaggala was banned from holding further rallies in accord with regulations banning all presidential campaign rallies until legislation governing the presidential elections was promulgated, which occurred on December 13 (see Section 3). On April 21, police beat and detained an UPC official for holding an unauthorized rally against the referendum on political systems (see Sections 1.c., 1.d., and 3). On June 3, police in Gulu prevented a meeting of the Uganda Youth Congress, the youth wing of the Uganda People's Congress. On June 25, police beat and arrested 11 Makerere University students after they disrupted a referendum rally held by the President. They subsequently were charged with misconduct and alarming the President and released on bail. Their case was ongoing at year's end (see Section 1.c. and 1.d.). On June 27, police in Tororo stopped a referendum rally organized by advocates for a multiparty system. On July 15, police in Kampala stopped a rally organized by an UPC official. On August 4, police in Kampala dispersed a seminar convened by the youth wing of the National Democrat's Forum. On September 6, police in Kampala stopped a rally organized by the Democratic Party (see Section 1.c.). On September 16, police violently dispersed a meeting of the Uganda Young Democrats in Gulu, which resulted in several injuries (see Section 1.c.).
In the wake of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God killings, local officials on several occasions dispersed meetings of religious groups (see Section 2.c.).
The Constitution provides for freedom of association; however, the Government restricts this right in practice. NGO's are required to register with the Nongovernmental Organizations Board, which includes representation from the Ministry of Internal Affairs as well as other ministries. The Government generally approved NGO registrations. On May 26, the Government registered the Uganda National NGO Forum, a broad consortium of domestic and international NGO's that had been refused registration for several years.
c. Freedom of Religion
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice; however, the Government forcibly disbanded several religious groups. Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that security officials harassed or detained Muslims. There is no state religion. Religious groups, like other nongovernmental organizations, must register with the Government. There were no reports that the Government refused to grant registration to any religious groups. Permits were necessary for the construction of facilities, including religious facilities. There were no reports that the Government refused to grant such permits to any religious organization. Mosques operated freely, Koranic schools were common, and Muslims occupied positions of authority in local and central government. Prisoners were given the opportunity to pray on the day appropriate to their faith. Muslim prisoners usually were released from work duties during the month of Ramadan.
Following the March 16 murders of more than 500 Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God followers and the discovery of mass graves of approximately 500 other persons on properties in Kanungu belonging to the group, the Government launched investigations of numerous religious groups. Three groups were disbanded forcibly, and one religious leader was arrested. On March 29, former Rukungiri assistant resident district commissioner (ARDC) Rev. Francis Mutazindwa was arrested for failing to act on information about the activities of the Kanungu cult while he was the ARDC. He was released on bond on April 29, pending further investigation. In December the Government began an investigation into the killings; the investigation is scheduled for completion in June 2001.
In early April, following allegations that the church allowed youths to engage in sexual relationships, the deputy resident district commissioner closed the Revival Pentecostal Church in Nseko village, Kasangati. In mid-April police in Kasese district banned the activities of a church group based in Hima public school, Busongora. On May 19, the Bushenyi resident district commissioner ordered the closure of the Church of the Servants of the Eucharistic Hearts of Jesus and Mary, which allegedly was operating in the guise of a vocational school.
On May 2, five members of the Kisaaba Redeemed Church in Kayunga, Mukono district, were arrested and charged with causing the death of a church member whom they denied medical treatment. Two remained in detention in Njeru prison at year's end; the other members were released. The case still was pending at year's end. On May 30, five members of the Mulungiomu Full Gospel Church in Luweero were arrested after reportedly telling their followers to fast and sell their property, the same message that had preceded the killings in Kanungu. At year's end, the five remained in custody at Luzira prison pending trial. On July 18, Wilson Bushara, leader of the World Last Message Warning Church, and 17 followers were arrested and charged with defilement, rape, abduction, and theft. On November 23, the Director of Public Prosecutions ordered that Bushara and his followers be transferred from the Buganda Magistrates' Court to Luweero where the offenses allegedly were committed. Their cases were pending before the Luweero district Magistrates' Court at year's end. On August 22, Patrick Bitungwabariho, a leader of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, appeared before court in Rukungiri district on charges of participating in an unlawful assembly, being idle and disorderly, and child neglect. Bitungwabariho remained in detention, and his case was ongoing at year's end.
In the wake of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God killings, local officials on several occasions dispersed meetings of religious groups. On March 12, security officials in Mbale dispersed hundreds of persons who had gathered for an evangelistic event organized by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. On March 19, police in Kikinzi, Rukungiri district, dispersed a Seventh-Day Adventist Church baptism on the grounds that the church had not sought permission from the authorities to hold the event; however, there are no legal requirements that authorities must approve such church events. On March 28, police in Mukono dispersed a meeting of over 200 adherents of the Universal Apostolic Church for the Restless on the grounds that the church had not sought permission from the authorities to hold the event. On April 1, police dispersed an alleged cult gathering in Kikandwa, Mubende district, on suspicion that Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God leader Joseph Kibwetere was hiding within the crowd.
Complaints by Muslim groups of government bias lessened during the year; however, the backlash from the death of over 1,000 citizens at the hands of a religious cult resulted in negative public attitudes towards fringe Christian groups and the Government's forcible disbanding of some groups. In 1998 approximately 100 Muslim men were detained and some were tortured, on suspicion that they supported rebel groups. Many of those detained were released (see Section 1.b.). There was no clear indication that religion was the sole factor in their arrests. The release of 53 Tabliq treason suspects in March and 28 in June resolved the issue of the whereabouts of unaccounted Muslim prisoners (see Section 1.d.).
Some local governments have restricted the hours of operations of religious organizations that are viewed as cults, for example, prohibiting nighttime prayer meetings. The Government largely has ignored calls for these churches to be shut down and their followers returned to mainstream churches.
There were reports from numerous human rights groups in the DRC that Rwandan troops, as well as various rebel factions, targeted Catholic clergy, both to intimidate the local population and in revenge for the Church's perceived role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. There also were reports from the DRC that some UPDF troops may have targeted clergy as well.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
The Constitution provides for these rights, and the Government generally respected them in practice, although there were some limits. Some local officials reportedly demanded payment of fees for permission to change a place of residence. A married woman must obtain her husband's written permission on her passport application if children are traveling on her passport (see Section 5).
Although fighting between government forces and the LRA continued, there were no reports during the year that government forces used threats to compel citizens to leave their homes because of the conflict.
Increased attacks by LRA rebels and Karamojong warriors have caused many Acholis to leave their homes for urban centers, displaced camps, and villages guarded by the UPDF (see Section 1.g.). It was estimated that approximately half of Gulu's population was in displacement camps or protected villages due to such attacks. At year's end, approximately 610,000 citizens remained displaced internally by violence in the north, west, and northeast.
There were no laws that provide for the granting of refugee and asylee status in accordance with the provisions of the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol; however, the Government does grant such status in practice. The Government cooperated with the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and with other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees. As it has done repeatedly in past years, the Government continued to provide first asylum as well as land for temporary resettlement to citizens from neighboring countries, extending this practice to approximately 214,000 refugees during the year. Over 90 percent of the refugees in the country are from southern Sudan; there also are small numbers of refugees from the DRC, Rwanda, and Burundi.
The Government failed to maintain adequate security in refugee camps during the year; large-scale attacks by rebel groups on some camps were reported (see Section 1.g.). For example, on July 24, LRA rebels attacked the Mongula refugee camp in Adjumani district killing 1 Sudanese refugee and abducting 30 others. On August 9, LRA rebels attacked Acholi-pii refugee camp in Kitgum killing three Sudanese refugees and abducting two others. On August 16, LRA rebels again attacked Acholi-pii, killing three refugees and abducting a child. On September 3, ADF rebels attacked Kyangwali Sudanese refugee resettlement camp in Buhaguzi county, Hoima district killing a woman and her child.
Unlike the previous year, there were no reports of the forced return of persons to a country where they feared persecution.
3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
Movement domination of the Government and the political process, and some restrictive constitutional provisions, limited citizens' effective exercise of the right to change their government. The President dominates the Government, and Movement supporters remained in control of the Parliament, although the legislature continued to conduct business in an independent and assertive manner during the year. The 1996 presidential and parliamentary elections were peaceful and orderly, but election conditions, including restrictions on political party activities, led to a flawed election process. In June a national referendum on the role of political parties resulted in the indefinite extension of the Movement form of government. The referendum process was flawed by restrictions on political party activities and unequal funding.
The Government maintained, at government expense, the Movement Secretariat, an organization that roughly parallels government institutions and is limited to those professing support for the Movement. Political education and military science courses known as Chaka Mchaka were suspended prior to the June referendum on political systems, but they resumed in August (see Section 2.a.). The Government prohibited some non-Movement political gatherings, required that employees in the President's office register their political affiliation in writing (see Section 1.f.), and broke up numerous political meetings not sanctioned by the Movement (see Section 2.b.). The Constitution bans political parties from holding national conventions, issuing platforms, endorsing candidates, or opening offices outside of the capital. A June referendum resulted in the indefinite continuation of these restrictions.
Newspaper, radio, and television coverage, in particular coverage by state-owned media, of the June referendum favored Movement activities. Activities by opposition parties and efforts to promote multiparty system received minimal coverage in any media (see Section 2.d.).
On November 28, the Parliament passed the Presidential Elections Bill, which governs the presidential election process; on December 13, the President signed the law. The law permits election campaigns to commence after the Electoral Commission has approved a candidate's nomination. The nomination review process was scheduled for January 2001.
Authorities at times harassed and arrested opposition politicians (see Sections 1.d. and 2.a.). On April 21, police in Mbale beat and detained a UPC official for holding an unauthorized rally against the referendum on political systems (see Sections 1.c. and 1.d.).
Universal suffrage is accorded to adults 18 years of age and older. The Constitution does not provide the right to vote to prisoners, and prisoners were not permitted to vote in the 1998 local government elections or in the June referendum.
The Constitution reserves 10 seats in Parliament for members of the UPDF, 5 seats for representatives of persons with disabilities, 5 seats for youth representatives, and 3 seats for representatives of organized labor. Individual parliamentarians who claim non-Movement party affiliation participate fully in the legislature.
Women are underrepresented in government and politics; however, they play an influential role in national affairs. The Government used quotas in an aggressive effort to place women in positions of authority. Women continued to make strong contributions in Parliament and inside the Movement. The Vice President is a woman, as are 5 ministers and 12 junior ministers in the President's 60-member Cabinet. In addition 39 of the nation's 45 districts selected a woman to fill a National Assembly seat reserved for women by the provisions of the Constitution. By-elections for female parliamentarians have not yet been held in six districts created in 1997. Women additionally won 6 nonreserved seats for the 281-member Parliament in the 1996 election.
4. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
Numerous human rights groups are active. Among them are: The Foundation for Human Rights Initiative; a chapter of FIDA; the Prisoners' Aid Foundation, which monitors prison conditions; the National Organization for Civic Education and Election Monitoring, which deals with problems related to civil society and political rights; Human Rights Focus, based in the northern town of Gulu; the National Association of Women's Organizations of Uganda (NAWOU), an umbrella group; the International Federation of Human Rights; and the Human Rights and Peace Center, based at Makerere University. These groups operate without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Hurinet, a human rights network and an umbrella organization for nine human rights organizations active in the country, also continued to be active.
The Uganda National NGO Forum, a broad consortium of domestic and international NGO's that has been refused registration for several years, was registered on May 26 (see Section 2.b.).
The Government allowed visits by international human rights NGO's, including Amnesty International and the ICRC. The Government also cooperated fully with the UNHCR.
Government officials generally were cooperative and responsive to NGO views. They frequently attended conferences and seminars hosted by NGO's on social problems. The Government continued to cooperate with NGO's on legal and prison reforms.
The Constitution established the UHRC as a permanent independent body with quasi-judicial powers. Under the Constitution, the UHRC may subpoena information and order the release of detainees and the payment of compensation for abuses. The UHRC continued to pursue suspected human rights abusers, including high-level officials in the Government and military, and expanded its operations by opening a second branch office in Soroti district in September. The UHRC Human Rights Tribunal continued to function, and the headquarters received 1,108 complaints during the year, including some against senior government leaders and military and police officials; the Soroti office received 123 complaints and the Gulu office received 312. Of the 1,108 complaints received at headquarters, 654 were resolved; 202 were referred to the criminal courts; 344 were referred to other bodies, such as the Inspector General of Police, the Ministry of Labor, and the Ministry of Public Service; 27 were dismissed because they occurred before 1995; 33 were found not to be human rights violations; and 48 were resolved through mediation and intervention. At year's end, 59 cases remained under investigation, and 395 still were pending review. Of the 123 complaints received at the Soroti office, 16 were resolved, 27 were dismissed, and 80 were under investigation at year's end. The UHRC does not have the power to intervene in cases pending before a court. The UHRC inspected numerous detention facilities and publicly reported on its findings; on March 9, the UHRC released its 1998 report. The report cited abuses by security organs and condemned police corruption and inefficiency; it noted instances of denial of the right to assembly, and criticized involvement in the DRC. The President appoints the UHRC's eight-member board.
5. Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status
The Constitution prohibits discrimination based on these factors; however, the Government does not enforce the law effectively in matters of locally or culturally accepted discrimination against women, children, people with disabilities, or certain ethnic groups. Race was not a factor in national politics. The continued instability in the north led to violations of the rights of some Acholi, an ethnic group that comprises a significant part of the population. Most violations of Acholi rights resulted from LRA actions.
Violence against women, including rape, remained common. According to U.N. statistics, 31 percent of women have experienced domestic violence. There were no laws that specifically protect women from battery or spousal rape, although there is a general law concerning assault. Some men of the Karamojong ethnic group in the northeastern section of the country continued their cultural practice of claiming unmarried women as wives by raping them. Between February and July, Karamojong warriors raped approximately 20 women during raids on neighboring districts in the northeast.
The Government continued trying to implement the Children's Statute, which provides extensive protection for families and children; however, implementation proved exceedingly difficult due to manpower and judicial constraints, and in reality, little was done to enforce the statute's provisions. Law enforcement officials, reflecting general public opinion, continued to view wife beating as a husband's prerogative and rarely intervened in cases of domestic violence. Women remained more likely to sue for divorce than to file assault charges against their husbands. These problems continued to receive increasing public attention. Numerous women's rights NGO's sponsored conferences, empowerment sessions, and training programs throughout the country. On September 1, the Court of Appeal upheld the death sentence imposed by the High Court on the husband and brother-in-law of Renu Joshi, who was murdered in 1997.
Traditional and widespread societal discrimination against women continued, especially in rural areas, despite constitutional provisions to the contrary. Many customary laws discriminate against women in the areas of adoption, marriage, divorce, and inheritance. In most areas, women may not own or inherit property, nor retain custody of their children under local customary law. Divorce law requires women wanting to prove adultery to meet stricter evidentiary standards. Polygyny is legal under both customary and Islamic law, and a wife has no legal status to prevent her husband from marrying another woman. In some ethnic groups, men also may "inherit" the widows of their deceased brothers. Women do most of the agricultural work but own only 7 percent of the agricultural land. There are limits on a married woman's ability to travel abroad with her children (see Section 2.d.).
Unlike their male counterparts, female members of the police force are required to obtain permission from the police Inspector General before marrying (see Section 1.f.).
There are active women's rights groups, including FIDA, Action for Development, the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ), Akina Mama Wa Afrika, the Forum for Women in Democracy, and NAWOU, which promote greater awareness of the rights of women and children. FIDA is in the final year of a 3-year project to draft proposed reforms of outdated and discriminatory laws, and the NAWJ continued to disseminate its guidebook on women's rights and options concerning domestic violence to women throughout the country.
Although prostitution is illegal, it is known to exist; however, there are no credible statistics available on the incidence.
An undetermined number of women were victims of abduction and rape by rebel forces (see Sections 1.c. and 1.g.).
Although it has devoted only limited funds to children's welfare, the Government demonstrated a commitment to improving children's welfare, particularly through its continuation of the Universal Primary Education (UPE) program. The program provides free education through the seventh grade for a maximum of four children per family, two girls and two boys; however, education is not compulsory. Key components of the UPE program include eliminating compulsory uniform requirements, providing free textbooks, eliminating fees imposed by schools, and the payment of Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) fees by the Government. Although some provisions had not yet been implemented fully by year's end, the UPE had increased funding for education, provided additional skills training for teachers, and reduced the textbook to student ratio. Strained finances, instability in some areas, infrastructure problems, and inadequate teacher training have prevented full implementation. Although the UPE program makes education more accessible financially, parents still must pay for school supplies and some school costs. Approximately 93 percent of primary school-age children are enrolled in school. Since the implementation of UPE, primary school enrollment has increased from 2.9 million in 1996 to 6.5 million in 1999. Girls and boys theoretically have equal access to education, and lower grades are divided almost evenly by sex; however, the proportion of girls in higher school grades remains low since families traditionally have favored boys when making financially related educational decisions. Boys also are more likely to finish primary school and perform better on the PLE. In June the Government launched a national plan to promote the education of girls. Only 51 percent of adult women are literate compared with 75 percent of adult men. Parents' inability to afford schooling has correlated highly with the occurrence of child labor in rural areas (see Section 6.d.).
The Government has not yet implemented effectively the 1996 Children's Statute, which outlines broad protections for children. Government efforts to enforce the statute's provisions were hampered by the large proportion of the population that is below 18, manpower and fiscal constraints on the judiciary, and cultural norms. The law stipulates parents' responsibilities and provides extensive protection for children in a wide variety of areas, including financial support, foster care placement, adoption, determination of parentage, and treatment of children charged with offenses. It also includes concise provisions on the rights of the child, including a provision that a child shall not be made to work or take part in any activity, whether for pay or not, that is likely to injure the child's health, education, or mental, physical, or moral development. However, the Government has been unable to enforce prohibitions on child labor, particularly in the informal sector (see Section 6.d.).
Estimates placed the number of orphaned children (children missing either parent are considered orphans) at up to 1.7 million. This large number of orphans resulted from previous civil wars, the internal displacement of persons, and HIV/AIDS.
Ritual murders of children remained a problem during the year (see Section 5). For example, on August 17, police arrested Peter Ssempugu on suspicion that he beheaded a 15-year-old girl in Busiro County, Mpigi district, on July 20. In December a 13-year-old girl reportedly escaped after she was drugged and abducted for a ritual sacrifice.
Child abuse remained a serious problem, particularly the rape of young girls (known locally as "defilement"). Only a small fraction of these incidents is reported, especially when the perpetrator is a family member, neighbor, or teacher – as is often the case. During the year, there were 4,209 reported cases of defilement, an increase from 2,637 in the previous year; 2,410 of the cases were investigated, and 2,317 arrests resulted from such investigations. Increasing numbers of accusations reached the courts, although neither conviction nor punishment was common. Cases were reported frequently in newspapers, but a payment to the girl's parents often ended the matter. Despite these obstacles, an increasing number of cases were being prosecuted. While defilement carries a maximum sentence of death, that punishment has never been meted out to a convicted rapist. Defilement applies to all cases of sexual contact outside of marriage involving girls younger than 18 years of age, regardless of consent or the age of the perpetrator. The marriage of young girls by parental arrangement is common, especially in rural areas.
Most schools use corporal punishment, although in 1997 the Government banned the beating of secondary school students. There were no developments in the June 1999 case of Peter Masanja, who died after a beating by the Kakungulu Memorial Islamic Institute's director, Hamidulah Llukwago. The Government has not released details of the investigation of a 1996 case in which a teacher in Masaka beat to death a 15-year-old student. It is unknown if the investigation has been completed; however, it is likely that it has been suspended.
Female genital mutilation (FGM), which is condemned widely byinternational health experts as damaging to both physical and psychological health, is practiced by the Sabiny tribe, located in the highly rural Kapchorwa district in the east, and by the Pokot tribe (also known as the Upe), which spans the remote northeastern border with Kenya. There are approximately 10,000 Sabiny and approximately 20,000 Upe who live in the country. Among the Sabiny, initiation ceremonies involving FGM have been carried out every 2 years. Such a ceremony was held in 1998, and an NGO based in Kapchorwa registered 965 females who were subjected to FGM during that year. In December there were reports that approximately 121 Pokot girls and 621 Sabiny women and girls, a decrease of 223 from 1998, had been circumcised during the biannual ceremony. An international human rights NGO offered cattle, goats, and money for scholarships to Sabiny parents who do not allow their daughters to be circumcised during this year's ceremony. There is no law against the practice, but the Government and women's groups working with the U.N. Population Fund continued to carry out programs to combat the practice through education. These programs have received strong government support and some support from local leaders. The programs emphasize close cooperation with traditional authority figures and peer counseling. Significant press attention to these ongoing efforts brought public attention to the problem throughout the year.
The Children's Statute provides that children with disabilities be treated and given necessary special facilities – a provision hampered in execution by inadequate funding.
The legal recruitment age for military service is 18 years; however, in practice, some recruiters have allowed 17-year-olds to enlist.
The UPDF detained LRA child soldiers at Gulu military barracks for several months. There were reports that the military used the children to help find LRA landmines and arms caches (see Sections 1.d. and 6.c.).
There were reports from the DRC that UPDF and Rwandan troops, in addition to RCD rebels, reportedly abducted many young women from the villages they raided. These night raids on villages became so frequent that in many parts of the Kivu Provinces peasants slept in their fields.
The ADF and LRA abducted many children, using them as guards, laborers, soldiers, and, in the case of the LRA, for forced sex (see Sections 1.g., 6.c., and 6.f.).
People With Disabilities
The Constitution provides that persons with disabilities have "a right to respect and human dignity" and requires that authorities take appropriate measures "to ensure that they realize their full mental and physical potential;" however, despite this provision, there was no statutory requirement for government services or facilities, such as accessibility of buildings for the disabled. Most buildings have one story, but in larger towns with multistory buildings, there often are no elevators; even where they do exist, they rarely are reliable. Widespread discrimination by society and employers limits job and educational opportunities for those with physical disabilities. In 1998 the Government appointed a Minister of State for Disabled Persons. A Department for Disabled Persons also exists under the Ministry of Gender, Labor, and Social Development; however, these bodies and positions have little funding to undertake or support any initiatives.
There are amicable relations between the various religious communities, and no religious group actively impinges upon the right of others to worship. However, the backlash from the death of over 1,000 citizens at the hands of a religious group resulted in negative public attitudes towards fringe Christian groups. Some officials of "mainstream" Catholic, Protestant, and Muslim religious organizations have called for the closure of Christian churches that are viewed as cults.
Civil strife in the north led to the violation of the rights of members of the Acholi tribe, which is largely resident in the northern districts of Gulu and Kitgum. Both government forces and the LRA rebels – who themselves largely are Acholi – committed abuses. LRA fighters in particular were implicated in the killing and kidnaping of Acholi tribe members (see Section 1.g.), while the UPDF record in the north continued to improve markedly. Abuses were inflicted upon members of the Bakonjo tribe in the west at the hands of ADF rebels, including ethnic Bakonjo.
Between February and July, raids by Karamojong warriors on neighboring districts in the northeast resulted in approximately 100 deaths. The raids may have exacerbated ethnic tensions in the northeast (see Section 1.a.).
6. Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
The Constitution provides for the right of every person to join workers' associations or trade unions, and the law allows unionization if a majority of the work force supports it; however, in practice the Government respects the right to form unions, although it has not responded yet to a 1997 application for registration by the Uganda Allied Teachers' Union. Since 1993 the right to form unions has extended to civil servants. However, many "essential" government employees are not permitted to form unions; these include police, army, permanent secretaries in the ministries, heads of departments and state-owned enterprises, school principals, and other management-level officials. The Government has failed to enforce the rights of some employees to join unions in newly privatized industries and factories. Organized labor has three reserved parliamentary seats.
The National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU), the largest labor federation, includes 17 unions and is independent of the Government and political parties. Among its members are medical workers, including doctors, and the civil service union. The NOTU's influence on the overall economy remains small, since about 90 percent of the work force are peasant farmers. Even in areas in which cash crops are significant, unionization has remained practically nonexistent. NOTU membership has declined steadily from some 500,000 in the 1970's to about 100,000.
The Constitution confirms the right to strike; however, government policy requires that labor and management make "every effort" to reconcile labor disputes before resorting to strike action. This directive presents unions with a complicated set of restrictions. If reconciliation does not appear to be possible, labor must submit its grievances and notice to strike to the Minister of Labor, who usually delegates the dispute to the Industrial Court (IC). In previous years, in the absence of verdicts from the IC, the Minister of Labor generally did not permit strikes, on the basis that "every effort" had not been exhausted. Frustrated laborers often went on strike anyway, protesting credibly that they were not paid a wage adequate to live on.
On January 24, 3,000 workers at Century Bottling Company went on strike over nonpayment of salaries and poor working conditions. They returned to work the following day after reaching an agreement with management. On January 25, employees of Ugma Engineering Corporation went on strike over nonpayment of salaries but ended their strike after management agreed to pay them. On February 10, clearing and forwarding agents in Malaba, the main entry point for goods from Kenya, went on strike in protest against corruption on the part of customs officials. They returned to work the following day after senior revenue authority officials promised to address their concerns.
Labor unions freely exercised 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, specifying that a workplace may be unionized if a majority of the employees supports doing so; however, 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 adopted a tripartite (government-employers-labor) cooperative approach to setting wages and resolving labor disputes. Both the Government and employers may refer disputes to the IC. The law does not prohibit antiunion discrimination by employers; however, there were no reported incidents of government harassment of union officials. Unionization continued to be blocked effectively by some industries, especially in the textile, hotel, and construction sectors. Labor organizers complained that laws requiring a minimum of 1,000 persons in order to form a union hindered their activities. The Government took only limited action on organized labor complaints, but pointed out that the refusal to allow unionization is a constitutional violation. On February 14, 21 workers of the Nytil Picfare textile factory were dismissed in connection with a strike earlier in the month designed to unionize the work force and raise salaries. The Ministry of Labor subsequently entered into negotiations with Nytil Picfare to resolve the issue; however, the company went into receivership and negotiations were suspended.
In 1999 the Uganda Textile, Garments, Leather, and Allied Union filed a complaint against the Government with the International Labor Organization (ILO) for failure to support the attempts of workers in the textile sector to exercise their right to freedom of association. The complaint still was pending at year's end.
There are no export processing zones.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The law prohibits forced or bonded labor, including forced or bonded labor by children; however, a lack of resources prevented the Government from enforcing this prohibition effectively. There was strong evidence that prison officials hired out prisoners to work on private farms and construction sites, where often they were overworked. Throughout the country, prison officials routinely augmented their meager pay with crops grown by prisoners on the prison grounds. Male prisoners performed arduous physical labor while female prisoners produced marketable handicrafts such as woven basketry. Juvenile prisoners perform manual labor, often 12 hours per day (see Section 1.c.). Compensation, when paid, generally was very low, although the law demands that pretrial detainees must receive back pay for all work that they have performed once they are released (see Section 1.c.).
The UPDF detained LRA child soldiers at Gulu military barracks for several months. There were reports that the military used the children to help find LRA landmines and arms caches (see Sections 1.d. and 5).
Both the ADF and the LRA abducted civilians for training as guerrillas; most victims were children and young adults, whom the ADF and LRA terrorized into virtual slavery as guards, laborers, soldiers, and, in the case of the LRA, as sex slaves (see Sections 1.b., 1.g., and 6.f.).
d. Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for Employment
The law prohibits employers from hiring workers below the age of 18; however, child labor is common, especially in the informal sector. The Ministry of Gender, Labor, and Social Development is charged with enforcing the law on child labor, but it has limited financial means to do so. Part of the problem is demographic, because half of the population is under 18 years of age. School fees have made it impossible for some parents – particularly poor farmers, the majority of the population – to provide their children with an education in spite of the Government's UPE program (see Section 5). As a result, there is an incentive to leave school and go into agricultural or domestic work in order to help meet expenses or perform the work of absent or infirm parents, a common situation throughout the country. The problem is acute particularly among the large orphan population. Nevertheless, according to the Ministry of Education, 93 percent of primary school age children are enrolled in school.
Most working children are employed in the informal sector, often on the subsistence farms of extended family members or as domestic servants. In urban areas, children peddle small items on the streets, are involved in the commercial sex industry (particularly in border towns and in Kampala), or beg for money. Although adults do most tea harvesting, some children were employed in this sector as well. Some of the country's orphans engage in labor activities.
It is estimated that 60 percent of all land-based trade in the country is informal. Smuggling is one of the larger informal industries, and employs large numbers of child laborers at the borders with Kenya and Tanzania. Children walk back and forth across the unguarded borders, transporting small amounts of fuel, sugar, coffee, or other commodities.
Government efforts to decrease the incidence of child labor were boosted by a $1.5 million grant in 1998 from the ILO's International Program for the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC). The IPEC program was launched in 1999, and, by the end of the year, it had launched projects to eliminate child labor in the sugar and rice-growing industries as well as a public awareness campaign. Government officials acknowledged that for the IPEC to be implemented, continued judicial and law enforcement reform were needed. The Ministry of Gender, Labor, and Social Development established a National Steering Committee on Child Labor and a Child Labor Unit to develop a national policy to eliminate child labor; however, such a policy was not developed by year's end.
The law does not prohibit the worst forms of child labor, nor does the Government have a mechanism to address this problem. However, several human rights NGO's began programs aimed at removing children from hazardous work. No reports about the efficacy of these efforts were available at year's end. In October consultants working for the Ministry of Gender, Labor, and Social Development reviewed four labor laws and created draft legislation consistent with ILO Convention 182; however, no action had been taken on the legislation by year's end.
The recruitment age for military service is 18 years; however, in practice, some recruiters have allowed 17-year-olds to enlist (see Section 5).
The law prohibits forced and bonded labor by children; however, a lack of resources prevented the Government from enforcing this prohibition effectively (see Section 6.c.). The ADF and LRA abducted children and terrorized them into virtual slavery as guards, laborers, soldiers, and, in the case of the LRA, as sex slaves.
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The minimum legal wage is $3.50 (6,000 shillings) per month, a rate set in the early 1960's. This wage is insufficient to provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family. Wages continued to be determined through negotiation between individuals and their employers, unions, and proprietors, or through negotiation within the boards of directors at state-owned industries. Salaries usually are augmented by other benefits such as housing and transport allowances, which often are equal to base wages. The Ministry of Labor's salary scale for civil servants starts with unskilled labor at $44 (75,000 shillings) per month, up to supervisors at $350 (600,000 shillings) per month, plus modest increases for years worked. All include provisions for paid overtime. The higher end of this wage scale would provide minimal standards of living for a worker and family, but most civil servants have great difficulty earning enough money to pay their children's school costs. Many civil servants and their dependents work in second jobs, grow their own food, or seek other ways to supplement their incomes. In industries that employ workers on an hourly basis, the normal workweek was 40 hours. Although there was no legal maximum workweek, a time-and-a-half rate was paid for each additional hour worked. Many industries pay workers by piecework, which avoids overtime and circumvents the prohibition on child labor. Many companies employ workers as "casual laborers" or "contract workers" in order to avoid providing benefits.
The condition of employee housing on the tea and sugar plantations at the major state-owned corporations, and within military and police barracks, was substandard. Sanitation and water facilities often are lacking.
Building codes often are not enforced. Some structures have tripled in height above the original foundations, leading local engineers to express reservations about the structural integrity of these workplaces. Factories generally are sound, but machinery almost always lacks safeguards.
Vestiges of occupational health and safety legislation are contained in the outdated Factories Act of 1954 and the Employment Decree of 1975. In September the Government enacted the Workers' Compensation Act, which replaced legislation dating to 1964. The act significantly increased compensation, based on monthly salaries, for workers injured or killed at work. The Ministry of Labor's Department of Occupational Health is responsible for enforcement of occupational safety regulations; however, in practice inspections are rare, due primarily to lack of vehicles and funding for inspection trips. There were fatal accidents at several construction projects at a rate of approximately one per month. The limited occupational safety regulations under the Workers' Compensation Act do not protect workers who refuse to perform dangerous work from being fired, although strong unions in certain dangerous industries protect such workers.
f. Trafficking in Persons
The law prohibits trafficking in persons; however, there were reports that persons were trafficked to, from, within, or through the country. There is strong evidence that prison officials hired out prisoners to work on private farms and construction sites, where they often were overworked (see Section 6.c.).
Molo Songolo, a South African child rights organization, reported that children were trafficked from the country to South Africa during the year; however, the credibility of the report is unknown. The children allegedly were abducted or bought from their parents by organized gangs from Nigeria, DRC, and Angola.
Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that the SPLA, supported by UPDF forces, forcibly recruited Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda for service in Sudan.
Both the ADF and the LRA abducted civilians for training as guerrillas; most victims were children and young adults whom the ADF and LRA terrorized into virtual slavery as guards, laborers, soldiers, and, in the case of the LRA, as sex slaves (see Sections 1.g., 5, and 6.c.). As many as 1,500 Ugandan children abducted by the LRA were held in the southern part of Sudan; the Government of Sudan actively supports the LRA. In past years, the LRA also reportedly sold and traded some children, mostly girls, or provided them as gifts to arms dealers in Sudan.
In December 1999, in Nairobi, Kenya, the Governments of Sudan and Uganda signed an accord agreeing, among other things, to cease supporting rebel groups and to return abductees. The Sudanese Government returned a number of LRA captives who had previously escaped LRA captivity during the year; however, the Sudanese Government did not free any abductees still held captive by the LRA.
The CID is mandated to combat trafficking. The CID did not keep records on the magnitude of the problem, and it was unknown if its efforts have been effective.