Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

Part 1: Political and Human Rights Conditions

Uganda is a constitutional republic led by President Yoweri Museveni of the ruling National Resistance Movement party. The February 2006 presidential and parliamentary elections generally reflected the will of the electorate; however, both were marred by serious irregularities. Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) terrorist leader Joseph Kony refused to sign the Final Peace Agreement in 2008. On December 14, 2008 the governments of Uganda, Southern Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) launched a joint military operation against the LRA in Garamba National Park, DRC. There were no reports of LRA attacks or kidnappings or reports of government killings of suspected LRA rebels within Uganda during 2007 or 2008. As a result, conflict-related security and human rights conditions continued to improve, encouraging 80 percent of internally displaced persons to return to or near their homes. However, the LRA was responsible for killing, raping, and kidnapping persons in the DRC, Central African Republic, and Sudan. The LRA continued to hold children it had forcibly abducted from Uganda. The influx of small arms continued to fuel violence in the Karamoja region and resulted in deaths and injuries. Despite improvements in some areas, serious human rights issues remained, including unlawful killings, torture and abuse of suspects by security forces; mob violence; harsh prison conditions; official impunity; arbitrary arrest; incommunicado and lengthy pretrial detention; restrictions on the right to a fair trial and on freedoms of speech, the press, association, and religion; sexual abuse of internally displaced persons; restrictions on opposition parties; official corruption; violence and discrimination against women, children, persons with disabilities, and homosexuals; trafficking in persons; restrictions on labor rights; and forced labor, including child labor.

Part 2: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

The U.S. Government seeks to strengthen democratic institutions, enhance political competition, reduce corruption, and increase respect for human rights. To advance these goals, the United States continues to support programs to strengthen parliament, create more effective linkages between elected officials and their constituents, improve government service delivery, build anticorruption capacity, and prepare political parties, the electoral system, and voters for the 2011 elections. U.S. efforts engage a wide spectrum of political, military, and civil society leaders to promote active, responsible participation in democratic and development processes. 

Peace and security in the country also continue to be top U.S. government priorities. The United States supports efforts to improve the lives of conflict-affected persons in the north. Respect for human rights by the security forces and their ability to address violations are also priorities.

Part 3: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance

The United States encourages respect for constitutional checks and balances through the strengthening of the legislature, government accountability institutions, and public participation in the policymaking process. U.S. assistance programs provide support to strengthen parliament's oversight committees, assist political parties with internal organization and constituency responsiveness, and bolster links between parliament, local government, and civil society. For example, in 2008, the United States funded programs that trained more than 1,000 local government officials in planning, budgeting, and accountability; provided consulting and training support to 27 civil society groups; and facilitated dialogue for more than 200 political party, civil society, and local government representatives across seven districts on economic development, health, and other key issues. To counter corruption, U.S. assistance trains and equips key agencies to enhance effective prosecution of corrupt officials and strengthen civil society's capacity to demand government accountability. This program has trained 69 police and state prosecutors in anticorruption techniques, 200 in public financial management, and an additional 17 in anticorruption instruction. In addition, the ambassador made a number of public statements stressing the importance of good governance, including combating corruption. U.S. officials regularly attended court proceedings on key cases involving constitutional protections, human rights, due process, media freedom and corruption.

U.S. public diplomacy efforts include the International Visitor Program that expose government officials, parliamentarians, and members of civil society to U.S. democratic institutions and electoral processes. Capitalizing on historic interest in the 2008 U.S. presidential elections, the United States held 22 election-related events to highlight key aspects of the democratic process. Through digital video conferences, multimedia public outreach activities, and guest speaker programs, the U.S. Government spurred dialogue on issues related to women in politics, internal democracy for political parties, voter education and participation, and peaceful transition of power. Additionally, the United States sent four journalists on programs to cover the U.S. primaries, debates, and elections. 

In the LRA-affected north, the United States promotes a dialogue of peace and reconciliation among civilians. U.S. Government support for peace, recovery, and development includes assistance to African observers of the peace process and ex-combatants and defectors, as well as funding for nationwide consultations on accountability and reconciliation and other development efforts. Additionally, in 2008 the United States initiated a series of targeted initiatives in the north that included small grants for infrastructure rehabilitation, community outreach events, and support to enhance local and central government public relations efforts that reached nearly 40,000 residents. Ongoing U.S. government programs in the north help formerly abducted children enroll in schools or vocational training, with additional support for educational intervention for children made vulnerable by conflict or HIV/AIDS. The United States sponsored civil-military relations seminars to promote human rights awareness among security forces' officers and facilitated discussion with civil society leaders.

U.S. Government support advanced the country's efforts to draft and pass comprehensive legislation to combat trafficking in persons. In 2008 the United States funded the production of a video on trafficking in persons, media campaigns, and awareness raising workshops with members of parliament and civil society. Experts trained more than 2,000 police officers in antitrafficking measures, and the government established in 2008 a special police antitrafficking task force. The U.S. Government funded programs to withdraw children from the most hazardous forms of labor, provided educational alternatives, and strengthened the government's ability to address child labor.