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 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. Persons who cannot afford the birth registration fees do not participate in the registration process, but they are not denied citizenship.
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 January and July, an estimated 239,548 children under the age of five were registered. The records system operated in 135 hospitals spread over 30 districts in the country.
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 2012 annual police crime report, defilement (akin to statutory rape) remained the most common crime committed against children, with 8,076 cases recorded. The report also registered 530 cases of rape, 71 of child trafficking, three of child sacrifice, 9,809 of child neglect, 2,437 of child desertion, 1,502 of child abuse and torture, 170 of kidnapping, 104 of infanticide, and 403 of other sexual-related offenses, including assault and incest. The government worked with UNICEF and NGOs, including Save the Children and the African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN), to combat child abuse.
Corporal punishment remained a problem in some schools and sometimes resulted in death. For example, on September 17, police in Rakai District arrested Stanley Tusubira, a teacher at Miracle Academy School, for the death of Jane Kirabo Nakiganda, a seventh-grade pupil, who died after she was reportedly caned for allegedly stealing 3,000 shillings ($1.20). Police stated that Tusubira may face charges of murder.
A June report released by ANPPCAN recorded 247 cases of physical abuse of children in 10 districts, including Kampala, Jinja, and Mukono.
In August 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 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 January 11, the Mukono District High Court sentenced three persons – traditional healer Muzamiru Mukalazi, Anthony Ssendikadiwa, and Ivan Nyombi – to 25 years in prison for the ritual killing of six-year-old Emmanuel Kironde in 2009.
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. Victims of rape and defilement received free medical examinations at Mulago Hospital in Kampala.
Forced and Early 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 that acute poverty forced some parents to give away their children, including girls as young as 12, for early marriage and sexual arrangements.
On August 6, police in Mayuge District arrested Saleh Kawanga, a resident of Namugongo, for marrying a fifth-grade student after he paid 50,000 shillings ($20) to her mother as a dowry. Police detained Kawanga pending an investigation.
In December 2012 police in Mbarara District arrested 16 family members who allegedly forced a 13-year-old girl to marry. Police reported that the case was closed, and the suspects were released after the witness disappeared in January.
A March research report released by Joy for Children, a local NGO based in the western region, indicated that 67 percent of parents in the districts of Kabarole, Kyenjojo, and Bundibugyo married off their daughters in return for dowry. Another survey, conducted by World Vision in the districts of Hoima, Kiboga, Kyakwanzi, Oyam, Soroti, and Masaka, indicated that 70 percent of girls were married before age 18. According to the UNFPA, the prevalence rate for early and forced marriage was almost 46 percent for girls who were 15 and older.
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. FGM/C is carried out in even years; therefore, there were no reports that girls were subjected to FGM/C during the year (see section 6, Women).
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Commercial sexual exploitation of children was a problem.
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. The law prohibits child pornography. On May 23, the Masaka High Court referred the March 2012 case against Emin Baro, a Turkish citizen, on charges of aggravated defilement to the Kampala High Court. The trial 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 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 the LRA increasingly abducted children from neighboring countries. 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.
Infanticide or Infanticide of Children with Disabilities: According to the 2012 annual police crime report, there were 104 infanticides 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. During the year authorities rounded up 70 street children and took them to Masulita Children’s Home, operated by Uganda Women’s Efforts to Save Orphans, a local NGO supported by the First Lady Janet Museveni.
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.
International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.