Country Listing

Uganda Table of Contents


Patterns of Crime and the Government's Response

Patterns in criminal behavior and arrests have often reflected Uganda's economic and political setting. During the colonial period, most arrests were for murder, rape, robbery, and, on occasion, treason. People were also imprisoned for failing to pay taxes. After Uganda gained independence, however, crime patterns slowly shifted to involve more violent crimes. Attacks by bands of armed robbers (kondos) became common in urban areas. Then in the 1970s, this pattern shifted to emphasize political crimes. Many arrests and executions were not recorded, and statistics were unavailable.

Uganda's parliament tried to stop the rise of organized violent crime in 1968, amending the 1930 Penal Code to mandate the death penalty for those convicted of armed robbery. Parliament also amended the criminal procedure code to require ex-convicts to carry identity cards and to present these cards at police stations at regular intervals. A few months later, the government passed the Public Order and Security Act, authorizing the president, or a delegated minister, to detain indefinitely anyone whose actions were judged prejudicial to national defense or security. After 1970 the government increased its reliance on this act to detain political opponents.

Following the overthrow of the second Obote regime in 1985, the government freed about 1,200 prisoners held under the Public Order and Security Act. Some abuses still continued to be reported in 1990, despite government promises to end abuse by police and prison officials and to respect individual rights before the law.

Data as of December 1990