Country Report on Terrorism 2017 - Chapter 1 - Uganda

Overview: The Government of Uganda continued to make important contributions toward countering terrorism in East Africa and the Horn of Africa in 2017 and demonstrated strong and sustained political will to apprehend suspected terrorists and disrupt terrorist activity in its territory. The Government of Uganda at times labeled conventional criminal acts as terrorism and leveled terrorism charges against journalists, public officials, and others the government deemed were acting against its interests, potentially diverting attention and resources from core counterterrorism goals. As the largest troop contributing country to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Uganda remained a key partner in regional efforts to neutralize al‑Shabaab.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In May 2017, the Ugandan government enacted an Anti-Terrorism Amendment Bill that expands the definitions of “terrorism” and “act of terrorism” to better align with international standards and broadens prohibitions on terrorist financing.

The Uganda Police Force (UPF) Directorate of Counterterrorism is the lead law enforcement entity charged with investigating, disrupting, and responding to terrorist incidents. Resource and training gaps, as well as corruption, affected the UPF’s overall capacity to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist incidents. Interagency coordination among Ugandan security and intelligence organizations also remained a significant challenge.

The United States continued to provide some capacity-building assistance to the UPF through the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program. Border security remained a persistent concern for the Ugandan government, with especially porous borders between Uganda and both South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Uganda used the U.S.-provided Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) to conduct traveler screening at the country’s major ports of entry.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Uganda is a member of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. In November, the FATF Plenary Meeting approved a recommendation from the International Cooperation Review Group to remove Uganda from the FATF Compliance Document, noting that the Ugandan government had made significant progress in addressing the strategic deficiencies previously identified. Notably, Uganda signed and ratified all relevant UN conventions relating to money laundering and terrorism finance, passed the Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Act to address deficiencies in the principal Act, amended the Anti‑Terrorism Act, conducted a money laundering and terrorism finance national risk assessment, and established an anti-money laundering/countering terrorist finance National Task Force.

A significant portion of financial transactions in Uganda are in the form of “mobile money” or payments and electronic funds transfers initiated through mobile phones, which are vulnerable to exploitation by criminals and terrorists. While Uganda’s Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Act requires financial institutions to conduct comprehensive customer due diligence, it does not put the same requirements on mobile money transfers. Banking institutions do not monitor mobile money payments and transfers in Uganda; mobile money transactions are instead under the purview of the individual telecommunications company that facilitates the specific transaction.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): The Government of Uganda does not have a CVE National Action Plan, as recommended by the UN Secretary-General’s Preventing Violent Extremism Plan of Action, but has committed to putting one in place in 2018. The Ministry of Internal Affairs, at the direction of the prime minister, appointed a lead to oversee this process.

International and Regional Cooperation: Uganda is a member of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the East African Community, the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism, and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region. Uganda is the largest troop contributing country to AMISOM, which also includes military forces from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya.