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Uganda: Patterns of Crime and the Government's Response
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Criminal Justice System > Patterns of Crime and the Government's Response


Patterns in criminal behavior and arrests have often reflected Uganda's economic and political setting. During the colonial period, most arrests were for murder, rape, robbery, and, on occasion, treason. People were also imprisoned for failing to pay taxes. After Uganda gained independence, however, crime patterns slowly shifted to involve more violent crimes. Attacks by bands of armed robbers (kondos) became common in urban areas. Then in the 1970s, this pattern shifted to emphasize political crimes. Many arrests and executions were not recorded, and statistics were unavailable.

Uganda's parliament tried to stop the rise of organized violent crime in 1968, amending the 1930 Penal Code to mandate the death penalty for those convicted of armed robbery. Parliament also amended the criminal procedure code to require ex-convicts to carry identity cards and to present these cards at police stations at regular intervals. A few months later, thegovernment passed the Public Order and Security Act, authorizing the president, or a delegated minister, to detain indefinitely anyone whose actions were judged prejudicial to national defense or security. After 1970 the government increased its reliance on this act to detain political opponents.

Following the overthrow of the second Obote regime in 1985, the government freed about 1,200 prisoners held under the Public Order and Security Act. Some abuses still continued to be reported in 1990, despite government promises to end abuse by police and prison officials and to respect individual rights before the law.

Data as of December 1990

Last Updated: December 1990

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Uganda was first published in 1990. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Uganda Main Page Country Studies Main Page

Section 166 of 169


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