government: presidential republic
state of civil and political rights: Not free
constitution: 8 October 1995; in 2005 the constitution was amended removing presidential term limits and legalizing a multiparty political system
legal system: in 1995 a system of common and customary law was reintroduced
legislative system: unicameral National Assembly
judicial system: Court of Appeal (judges are appointed by the president and approved by the legislature); High Court (judges are appointed by the president)
religion: Roman Catholic 41.9%, Protestant 42% (Muslim 12.1%, other 3.1%, none 0.9%
death row: 215 (end of 2015)
year of last executions: 0-0-0
death sentences: 0
international treaties on human rights and the death penalty:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1st Optional Protocol to the Covenant
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty)
penal code provides for 15 capital offences: nine separate offences grouped
under the collective heading “treason” and offences against the State, rape,
defilement, murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping.
In March 2002, the Parliament passed an anti-terrorism bill that imposes a
mandatory death sentence for terrorists.
In April 2007, the Parliament passed a law that prescribes the death penalty
for those who intentionally transmit the HIV virus.
On 3 April 2009, the Parliament unanimously created a new clause in the
“Prevention of Trafficking of Persons Bill 2007” providing for the death
penalty as a maximum sentence to a person convicted of human trafficking.
In recent years, many death sentences have been
commuted by the High Court of Uganda, following a January 2009 Supreme Court
ruling, which declared the mandatory application of the death penalty
unconstitutional. The court decided that the mandatory death sentences should
be commuted to life imprisonment. In its judgment, the Supreme Court also ruled
that death sentences be commuted to life imprisonment after three years in
jail, in a move Rights Groups hailed as a major step towards ending capital
punishment. The Court upheld the death penalty as constitutional but ruled that
“a delay beyond three years after a death sentence is an inordinate delay.”
In March 2012, in its response to the recommendations received under the Universal Periodic Review of the UN
Human Rights Council, Uganda rejected those on the
abolition of the death penalty and/or formally declaring a de-facto
In June 2012, the Uganda Prisons Services (UPS) spoke out against the death penalty, saying the purpose of
prisons is to rehabilitate wrong-doers, and not kill them. “Our mandate is to
have safe custody which is humane. We are for reforming and re-integrating, and
not hanging prisoners,” said UPS spokesperson Frank Baine at the Uganda Human
Rights Commission two-day Forum to promote the rights of detainees. Baine added
that hanging prisoners traumatizes both staff and inmates. “Prisoners are part
of our family. By the time you hang, it is like you are hanging your own,” he
In November 2015, a private member’s Bill was moved by Serere District Woman MP Alice Alaso seeking to amend four
laws with reference to the death penalty and replace it with life imprisonment
for the most serious crimes, including murder, rape, aggravated robbery,
aggravated defilement and terrorism. If passed in its current state, the Bill will
amend and repeal the provisions in the Anti-Terrorism Act 2002, the Penal Code
Act chapter 120 of the laws of Uganda, the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces Act,
2005 and the Trial on Indictment Act chapter 23. All these laws provide for
mandatory death penalties for convicted persons.
In 2015, only one death sentence was
imposed, as in 2014, while no death sentences at all were handed down in 2012
or 2013. In 2011, there were at least 15 sentences of death handed down.
According to prison records, at
least 377 people, including one woman, have been legally executed by hanging
since 1938. Last executions were carried out on 3 March 2003, when Pte Richard Wigiri and then Ptes Kambacho Ssenyonjo and Alfred Okech were executed by firing squad after a military court found them guilty of two different murders.
At the end of 2015, there were 215
prisoners on death row in Uganda.
On December 19, 2016, Uganda, for the second time, abstained on the Resolution for a Moratorium on the
Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly. It previously voted against.