Birth Registration: The law accords citizenship to children born in or outside the country if at least one parent or one grandparent held Ugandan citizenship at the time of the child’s birth. Children under the age of 18 who are abandoned in the country with no known parents are considered Ugandan 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. Citizens who cannot afford the birth registration fees do not participate in the registration process, but are not denied citizenship.
In general, lack of registration did not result in denial of public services. However, many primary schools, especially in urban centers, required birth certificates for enrollment. Enrollment in university and other tertiary institutions also required birth certificates. In September 2011 the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), the government agency responsible for recording births and deaths, launched a computerized system that uses mobile telephones to deliver timely and accurate records. The system enables officials to send details of births and deaths as a text message to the central server at URSB headquarters in Kampala.
Education: The law provides for tuition-free and compulsory education for the first seven years of primary school or through high school for especially underprivileged students. Students, except for the most underprivileged, must pay for school supplies and some school operating costs. Many parents could not afford these expenses.
Child Abuse: Child abuse remained a serious problem, particularly rape and sexual abuse of girls, and recorded cases greatly understated the pervasiveness of abuse.
According to the 2011 annual police crime report, defilement (akin to statutory rape) remained the most common crime committed against children, with 7,690 cases recorded. The report also registered 520 cases of rape, 69 of child trafficking, eight of child sacrifice, 8,075 of child neglect, 1,973 of child desertion, 1,775 of child abuse and torture, 125 of kidnapping, 66 of infanticide, and 423 of other sexual-related offenses, including assault and incest. The government worked with UNICEF and NGOs, including Save the Children and African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN), to combat child abuse.
On August 31, 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. According to the report, in approximately 98 percent of the 30 schools surveyed in greater Kampala, pupils were caned for offences ranging from giving wrong answers to speaking in their vernacular language instead of English.
There were numerous reports of ritual sacrifice of children during the year. The government took some steps to address this problem. For example, on July 13, the High Court in Kampala convicted Joyce Jane Kiggundu and sentenced her to 14 years’ imprisonment for kidnapping a 10-year-old boy to perform a ritual sacrifice in January 2011.
There were developments in previous ritual murder cases. For example, on July 26, the High Court in Masaka sentenced Godfrey Kajubi to life imprisonment for the ritual murder of a 12-year-old boy in 2008. However, Kajubi appealed the verdict, which was pending a hearing at year’s end.
Perpetrators of sexual abuse often were family members, neighbors, or teachers. In 2009 the UPF began providing free rape and defilement medical examinations throughout the country to assist investigations. An estimated 10,050 victims of rape and defilement have since received free medical examinations at Mulago Hospital in Kampala.
Child Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18, but authorities did not actively 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 that acute poverty forced some parents to give away their children, including girls as young as age 12, for early marriage and sexual arrangements.
On December 8, police in Mbarara District arrested 16 family members who allegedly forced a 13-year-old girl to get married. Investigations and a hearing of the case were pending at year’s end.
According to UNICEF, 12 percent of women 20 to 24 years old were married or in a union before they were 15 years old, and 46 percent were married or in a union before reaching age 18.
According to a November 2011 survey conducted by an international women’s organization in Kasese District, girls entered marriage as early as age 12. The report stated that in Bukonzo East, 22 percent of marriages involved girls between the ages of 12 and 14, and 78 percent of marriages involved girls between 15 and 17 years of age. In Busongora North, 19 percent of marriages involved girls between 12 and 14, and 81 percent of marriages involved girls between 15 and 17 years of age. Reportedly, Kasese was the district with the highest number of early marriages.
The law considers sexual contact outside marriage with girls less than 18 years of age, regardless of consent or age of the perpetrator, as “defilement” and carries a maximum penalty of death. Such cases often were settled by a payment to the girl’s parents.
Harmful Traditional Practices: The law and constitution prohibit FGM/C and other related activities and establish a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. A local NGO that monitors the prevalence of FGM/C reported that 30 girls were subjected to FGM/C in September in Nakapiripirit District. There were no reports of FGM/C on girls in the districts of Kapchorwa, Bukwo, Kween, or Amudat.
The June 2011 case against Kam-Kosike Lonete for her involvement in FGM/C practices was pending hearing at year’s end.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Commercial sexual exploitation of children was a problem. According to a February study conducted by the local NGO African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect, extensive commercial sex exploitation of girls between ages 15 and 19 occurred in Kampala District.
While the law prohibits sexual exploitation of children, the government did not enforce the law effectively. The minimum age of consensual sex is 18 years. The law prohibits child pornography. On March 12, police arrested Emin Baro, a Turkish citizen, on charges of molesting underage girls and possessing child pornography. On March 27, a court convicted Baro of sexually molesting underage girls and fined him 7.2 million shillings ($2,680). Activists and government agencies condemned the ruling as too lenient, which prompted police to rearrest Baro on March 29. On October 16, Baro appeared in court on charges of aggravated defilement and authorities remanded him to prison; the case was pending at year’s end.
Child Soldiers: Although LRA members who were abducted as children continued to leave the LRA and return home, an estimated 250 to 400 LRA fighters remained. Despite a significant reduction in LRA size since 2008, the LRA continued to hold women and children against their will, although increasingly the group abducted children from neighboring countries. The government led regional efforts to counter the influence of the LRA in coordination with South Sudan, the CAR, and the DRC.
Infanticide or Infanticide of Children with Disabilities: According to the 2011 annual police crime report, there were 66 reported infanticides 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. During the year authorities rounded up 52 street children and took them to Kampiringisa National Rehabilitation Centre in Mpigi. The center, understaffed and underfunded, was often unable to accommodate the influx of children from these roundups, and many of them eventually returned to the Kampala streets.
Institutionalized Children: There were reports of abuses in several orphanage centers. Of the 412 orphanages operating in the country, only 34 were formally registered. The government lacked the ability to manage registration and monitoring of orphanages.
On April 13, authorities in Rukungiri District closed Rubirizi Child Development Center following a petition by residents alleging one of the administrators had been sexually abusing some of the children. Police arrested the administrator and an investigation was pending at year’s end.
International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.