Birth Registration: The law accords citizenship to children born in or outside the country if at least one parent or grandparent holds Ugandan citizenship at the time of the child’s birth. Abandoned children under the age of 18 with no known parents are considered citizens, as are children under the age of 18 adopted by Ugandan parents.
The law requires citizens to register a birth within three months. According to the 2011 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey, only 29 percent of rural and 38 percent of urban births were registered. Lack of birth registration generally did not result in denial of public services. Many primary schools, however, required birth certificates for enrollment, especially those in urban centers. Enrollment in secondary schools, university, and other tertiary institutions required birth certificates. In 2011 the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), the government agency responsible for recording births and deaths, established a computerized system, known as the Mobile Vital Records System, which used mobile telephones to deliver timely and accurate records. The system enabled officials to send details of births and deaths as a text message to the central server at URSB headquarters in Kampala. URSB officials reported that between July 2013 and September 2014, an estimated 570,367 children under the age of five were registered. The records system operated in 135 hospitals in 58 districts.
Education: The law provides for basic education, which is the responsibility of the state and the parents of the child. The government provided free universal primary education to four children per family as well as universal secondary education, although parents are required to provide lunch and schooling materials for children in secondary school. The programs provide seven years of primary education and six years of secondary education.
Child Abuse: Child abuse remained a serious problem, particularly rape and sexual abuse of girls, and recorded cases greatly understated the prevalence of the problem. Perpetrators of sexual abuse often were family members, neighbors, or teachers.
The law considers sexual contact outside marriage with girls under the age of 18, regardless of consent or age of the perpetrator, as “defilement,” which carries a maximum penalty of death. Such cases often were settled by a payment to the girl’s parents. According to the 2013 annual police crime report, defilement remained the most common crime committed against children, with 9,598 cases recorded. The report also registered 1,042 cases of rape, 187 of child trafficking, 12 of child sacrifice, 11,519 of child neglect, 3,541 of child desertion, 1,332 of child abuse and torture, 1,061 of kidnapping, 82 of infanticide, and 250 of other sexual-related offenses, including assault and incest. The government worked with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and NGOs, including Save the Children, Child Fund, and the African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN), to combat child abuse.
On June 16, the government launched a national child helpline--code 116--to enable children to report cases of abuse. The UPF provided free rape and defilement medical examinations throughout the country to assist investigations. Victims of rape and defilement received free medical examinations at Mulago Hospital in Kampala.
Corporal punishment remained a problem in some schools and sometimes resulted in permanent injuries. For example, on May 14, Lilah Babirye, a parent of Naswif Katongole, filed a suit in the High Court against Sir Apollo Kaggwa Primary School. In the suit, Babirye alleged two teachers of the school, Joseph Owino and Garace Lumu, assaulted Katongole, who developed sharp pains in the waist, psychological impairment, and mobility complications. Hearing of the suit was pending.
In 2012 the government newspaper Saturday Vision reported corporal punishment was pervasive in primary schools in the greater Kampala area, despite a government directive prohibiting the practice. The report indicated that, in 29 of the 30 schools surveyed in greater Kampala, pupils were caned for offenses ranging from giving wrong answers to speaking in their vernacular language instead of English.
There were no developments in the September 2013 case against Stanley Tusubira, a teacher at Miracle Academy School who allegedly beat a seventh-grade pupil to death for stealing 3,000 shillings ($1.20).
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18, but authorities did not enforce the law. Marriage of underage girls by parental arrangement was common, particularly in rural areas. Local NGOs and the police Family and Children Unit reported some parents arranged such marriages or sexual arrangements for girls as young as 12 due to poverty. According to the UNFPA, the prevalence rate for early and forced marriage was approximately 46 percent for girls who were 15 and older. According to the 2013 African Human Social Development Report, thousands of minors were lured or forced into early marriages. A March police probe into child marriages in the eastern Teso Region showed girls were sold to suitors for as little as 50,000 shillings ($18).
On March 15, police in Butaleja District, Eastern Region, arrested nine persons for attempting to marry a 12-year-old girl to a 45-year-old man. Hearing of the case was pending at year’s end.
In July and August, several local district governments in Karamoja and Busoga regions launched a campaign, End Early Marriages, in partnership with other child rights NGOs.
There were no developments in the August 2013 case of Saleh Kawanga, a resident of Namugongo, who was accused of marrying a fifth-grade student after he paid 50,000 shillings ($18) to her mother as a dowry.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law and constitution prohibit FGM/C and other related activities and establishes a maximum penalty of life imprisonment for violations. On July 12, police in Moroto District arrested 13 persons for perpetrating FGM/C on seven girls between the ages of nine and 12 in Lonyik village, Tapac Subcounty. On July 16, a court in Moroto sentenced Namuton Namon, a local surgeon, to 10 years’ imprisonment for practicing FGM/C. The court charged a second suspect, Nakong Nakuwam, with coercing girls into submitting to FGM/C and sentenced him to three years in prison. The court charged 11 parents with aiding, procuring, and coercing their daughters into the practice. The court remanded the suspects to prison, and hearing of the case was pending.
Other Harmful Traditional Practices: The law and constitution prohibit cultures, customs, and traditions that are against the dignity, welfare, or interest of children. There were numerous reports of ritual sacrifice of children during the year. The office in charge of monitoring Human Sacrifice and Trafficking in Persons registered nine cases between January and October. The government took steps to address the problem. For example, on September 30, police in Lwengo arrested Fred Kamuntu, Joyce Kamuntu, and Rogers Mutesasira for the ritual killing of 13-year-old Kennedy Kayibanda in Mayira village. Police detained the suspects at Mbirizi police station, and an investigation was pending at year’s end.
There were developments in previous ritual sacrifice cases. For example, on June 12, the Court of Appeal upheld the conviction and life sentence of businessperson Kato Kajubi for killing a 12-year-old boy in 2008.
The government conducted a media campaign to raise awareness and training programs for security personnel.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: While the law prohibits sexual exploitation of children, the government did not enforce the law effectively, and the problem was extensive. The minimum age for consensual sex is 18 years. Defilement, which refers to any sexual contact with a minor, carries a maximum penalty of death. Such cases often were settled by a payment to the girl’s parents. The law prohibits child pornography. On February 6, the president signed into law the Antipornography Bill.
Child prostitution was a problem. The local NGO Uganda Youth Development Link (UYDEL) estimated at least 18,000 girls and women were engaged in sex work across the country. Police arrested several persons for practicing prostitution, but there were no reports of convictions at year’s end.
Child Soldiers: Although LRA members who were abducted as children continued to leave the LRA and return home, an estimated 150 LRA fighters remained in the region. Despite a significant reduction in LRA size since 2008 due to military operations, the LRA continued to hold women and children against their will and to abduct children from neighboring countries. Abductees were usually held for a few hours or days and used as porters, as opposed to prior practices of long-term abductions for use as soldiers. The government led regional efforts, backed by an African Union-mandated mission, to counter the influence of the LRA in coordination with South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the DRC. In July, AMISOM initiated investigations into alleged use of child soldiers in its ranks. This followed a May report by the UN alleging 14 cases of association of children with AMISOM in various capacities, including to man checkpoints and as cooks. More than 6,000 UPDF soldiers served with the mission.
Infanticide or Infanticide of Children with Disabilities: According to the 2013 annual police crime report, 82 infanticides were reported that year.
Displaced Children: Families from the farming regions of Karamoja sent many children to Kampala during the dry season to find food and work, and most of them ended up begging on the streets. Police routinely rounded up street children and relocated them to a custodial home for juvenile delinquents, where staff attempted to locate the children’s families and return them to their homes. According to the July Human Rights Watch Report Where Do You Want Us to Go, authorities worked jointly with social workers and community leaders to return 295 Karamojong street children to their homes in Moroto District. The report stated that, of 2,535 recorded street children, 1,906 from Karamoja were resettled and reintegrated. The report accused several government agencies, including police, of perpetrating abuse of and violence against street children. The UPF dismissed the claims, and no investigation was conducted by year’s end.
Institutionalized Children: There were reports of abuses in several orphanages. Of the 412 orphanages operating in the country, only 80 were formally registered. The government lacked the ability to manage registration and monitoring of orphanages. According to new regulations issued on May 23, an approved home shall only receive children in an emergency from a police officer or under an interim care order from a judge. All approved homes are required to keep proper accounts, employ a qualified warden and registered nurse, keep health records for each child, and ensure each child is given appropriate education and sleeping facilities.
International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.