Annual Report: Uganda 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Uganda 2011

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In September, the Constitutional Court declared the offence of sedition in the Penal Code Act to be unconstitutional on the basis of section 29 of the Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

In July, a joint operation between the governments of Uganda and Rwanda resulted in the forcible return to Rwanda of around 1,700 Rwandan asylum-seekers from two refugee settlements in Uganda. Police officers fired shots into the air when some of the asylum-seekers tried to escape. In the ensuing panic and stampede, people were reportedly injured and children separated from their parents. Most of the affected refugees complained that they had not been allowed a fair and satisfactory determination of their applications for refugee status. The operation resulted in the death of at least one man who jumped off a truck en route to Rwanda and injuries to over 20 people.

There were cases of refugees living in settlement camps and urban areas being arbitrarily arrested, unlawfully detained and tortured or ill-treated. Perpetrators, usually the police and other law enforcement officials, were rarely brought to justice.

The authorities threatened to return at least three Somali asylum-seekers to southern and central Somalia despite the risks they would face there.

Discrimination - lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009 which would further entrench discrimination and lead to other human rights violations against LGBT people remained pending in Parliament.

In October and November a local publication, The Rolling Stone, published front page articles identifying people it said were homosexuals; one included the words "Hang them". The articles contained names, pictures and in some cases addresses and other details. The people named included activists and human rights defenders. A number of people named in the publication complained of harassment and threats by people known to them. In November, some of the individuals named filed a civil law case in the High Court against the publishers, alleging violation of their rights to life, dignity and privacy. The Court's decision was pending at the end of the year. However, the authorities did not condemn the publication or take any measures to protect the people placed at the risk of violence by the articles.

LGBT individuals and rights activists continued to face arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention, torture and other ill-treatment by the police and other security personnel.

Death penalty

Civilian and military courts continued to impose the death penalty for capital offences. There were no executions.