ASF in Uganda

Location: Kampala Date of establishment: December 2007 Team: 15 collaborators Contact: oug-cp2@asf.be - Telephone +256 75 09 39 349

General Context

With over 60% of the population under 25 years of age, Uganda has one of the youngest and most rapidly growing populations (40 million inhabitants) in the world. The colonial boundaries created by Britain to delimit Uganda grouped together a wide range of ethnic groups with different political systems and cultures. These differences complicated the establishment of a working political community after independence was achieved in 1962.

The dictatorial regime of Idi Amin (1971-79) was responsible for the deaths of some 300,000 opponents; guerrilla war and human rights abuses under Milton Obote (1980-85) claimed at least another 100,000 lives. In 1986, the “Liberation War” brought to power the National Resistance Army, led by Yoweri Museveni. Turned as a political party under the acronym National Resistance Movement, the NRM regime has remained in power since 1986 and brought relative stability to the country. However, the NRM rule has also been characterized by conflicts in West Nile, Acholiland, Karamoja and the Rwenzori regions. In particular, the insurgency of the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) in Northern Uganda, led to large-scale and grave human rights violations.

The condition of justice

In spite of great efforts by the Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS), the courts of Laws are still physically, financially and technically inaccessible to the poor, who represent the majority of the population. Courts of Law and Law enforcement agencies are widely perceived as corrupt by the population. As a result, the vast majority of legal disputes and legal needs are addressed outside the courts. At community level, there exist multiple routes for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), which, despite being more accessible, are often flawed in ways that impede their efficiency and fairness, in particular with regards to gender equality.

In the absence of a country-wide public legal aid scheme, access to justice remains a challenge for the majority of the population. The limited public services and the ineffectiveness of the local council system make the population rely on services from Legal Aid Service Providers (LASPs) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), which are increasingly constrained in a context of reducing civic space and limited consideration for human rights. Besides, such services are scarcely available, especially in rural areas.

The prevalence of the Rule of Law in the administration of Justice remains a challenge. There exists a systematic discrepancy between the legal frameworks and the practices of criminal justice actors, which is detrimental to the protection of the populations’ rights. In particular, unabated deviations in the standards of arrest and remand, coupled with a growing incarceration rate over the last ten years, have led to prisons congestion.

Uganda’s history of conflicts has been partially addressed by the Transitional Justice process so far. Most crimes committed during past conflicts haven’t led to criminal prosecution or other forms of justice, and a culture of impunity remain. In Northern Uganda, and other parts of the country, victims still suffer the consequences of past conflicts. The recent adoption of a Transitional Justice Policy has renewed hope for a meaningful transitional justice process, in particular one that can give victims of international crimes the agency to participate in judicial proceedings.

In the last two decades, Uganda has witnessed an unprecedented increase in foreign direct investment and actual economic activity by both multinational corporations and local business enterprises in its economy. Alongside the infrastructure sector, foreign investment primarily targets the country’s primary (land and forestry) and strategic (oil deposits and minerals) resources. In particular, extractive industries have risen in the Albertine Graben and Karamoja regions. While these trends present opportunities for development, they raise the question of the latter’s sustainability, as they also carry potential harmful impacts on individuals, communities and the environment.

Rural communities in Northen Uganda are being sensitized about transitional justice

Projects

Empowering Civil Society for Inclusive Development

Funding: Belgium Development Cooperation (DGD)
Duration: 5 years (January 2022 > December 2026)

Protecting Constitutional and Procedural Rights through Access to Justice

Funding: Austrian Development Agency
Duration: 3 years (November 2020 > October 2023)

From Access to Equality (FATE); Empowering Women to Access Justice in Uganda

Funding: The Embassy Of The Kingdom Of The Netherlands
Duration: 4 years (April 2021 > March 2025)

Publications

July 19, 2022

Annual report 2021

March 8, 2022

International Women’s Day - Uganda, Climate and gender justice: Empowering women and girls to pursue justice in an environment that serves their needs

March 7, 2022

Statement - The resumption of the Kwoyelo trial offers a ray of hope for the victims and accuses persons, but how committed is the judiciary to delivering this?

February 9, 2022

Press release - Dominic Ongwen: Ugandan victims must be at the centre of reparations proceedings

News

March 29, 2022

Press release: International Court of Justice Ruling in the DRC v. Uganda Case: Ensuring a Victim-Focused and Effective Implementation of the Reparations Order

On 9 February 2022, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Uganda to pay $325 million in reparations to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)  for damages to persons, property and natural resources resulting from Uganda’s military intervention in the wars in the DRC between 1998-2003. This follows on from the 2005 judgment in which the ICJ ruled that Uganda’s (direct and indirect) military actions in this period had violated the principle of non-intervention.

August 9, 2021

Promoting access to justice through community-based mediation programs

In Uganda, access to justice is limited by the financial resources of local populations but also by the geographical distance to the courts of law. In this context, ASF focuses on the training of community-based mediators to promote access to justice and enable local populations to claim their rights.

June 11, 2020

Uganda’s de facto state of emergency to address the Covid-19 pandemic

Oeganda, gesterkt door zijn recente ervaring met het aanpakken van het ebolavirus, heeft een masterplan ontwikkeld om de verspreiding van COVID-19 tegen te gaan. Preventieve maatregelen werden vanaf 18 maart genomen, zelfs voordat het eerste geval van besmetting geregistreerd werd in het land. Terwijl het eerste geval geregistreerd werd op 22 maart, was het gezondheidspersoneel al in staat van paraatheid en waren preventieve maatregelen zoals het regelmatig wassen van de handen, al door de autoriteiten gepromoot.