Country Report on Terrorism 2011 - Chapter 2 - Uganda


Overview: The Ugandan government demonstrated increased political will to secure its borders, apprehend suspected terrorists, and coordinate with regional allies and the United States to counter terrorism. There were no reported terrorist attacks in Uganda in 2011, but Uganda remained vulnerable to attacks by the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab, which killed 76 people including one American, in its July 2010 Kampala bombings. In addition to taking tangible steps to track, capture, and prosecute individuals with suspected links to terrorist organizations, Uganda began prosecuting several individuals arrested for orchestrating the July 2010 bombings. Uganda also increased its troop contributions to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and continued to pursue the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in coordination with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan, and the Central African Republic (CAR).

Legislation and Law Enforcement: Uganda’s Joint Anti-Terrorism Taskforce, which is composed of military, police, and intelligence entities and reports to the chieftaincy of military intelligence led Uganda’s counterterrorism response, but was hampered by allegations of human rights abuses. The Police’s Rapid Response Unit also conducted terrorist investigations, but was disbanded in December 2011 due to allegations of human rights violations.

During the year, Uganda continued to build its counterterrorism capacity. With U.S. assistance, Uganda continued to expand its Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) border control system to additional points of entry and upgraded this system to capture biometric information. Uganda also continued to participate in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program.

In September, the Uganda High Court handed down sentences of five years and 25 years imprisonment to two of the 2010 Kampala bombing suspects for terrorism and conspiracy to commit terrorism. In November, Uganda also commenced prosecution of 12 other suspects accused of orchestrating the July 2010 bombings, but the trial was placed on hold shortly thereafter due to a legal challenge filed with the Constitutional Court. Although Uganda significantly improved its ability to investigate terrorist acts, additional training and resources are needed. Ugandan police, for example, replaced the outdated system of fingerprint cards with a modern criminal records management system to identify criminal and terrorist suspects.

Countering Terrorist Finance: Uganda is a member of the Eastern and Southern Anti-Money Laundering Group, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Uganda’s financial sector remained vulnerable to money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illicit financial transactions. Legal and law enforcement measures to counter terrorist financing, based on the Anti-Terrorist Act of 2002 and the Financial Institutions Act of 2004, were inadequate and did not meet international standards.

The Anti-Terrorist Act made terrorist financing illegal, but Ugandan authorities have not used this law to investigate any money laundering or terrorist financing cases. Uganda also lacked the capacity needed to effectively monitor and regulate money/value transfer services and wire transfer data. The Bank of Uganda asked local banks to report “suspicious” transactions, but there was no clear implementation mechanism for enforcing this or investigating potentially suspicious activity. The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ugandan Police Force was responsible for investigating financial crimes. However, until Parliament approves anti-money laundering legislation, the understaffed and poorly-trained CID maintained only limited authority to investigate and prosecute money laundering violations.

The Inspector General of Government has not investigated money laundering or terrorist financing cases and Uganda did not prosecute any terrorist financing cases in 2011. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Finance distributed UN lists of designated terrorists or terrorist entities to relevant Ugandan financial institutions.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Regional and International Cooperation: Uganda is an active member of the African Union, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, the Community of Eastern and Southern Africa, the East African Community, and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region. During the year, Uganda worked closely with regional and international law enforcement agencies to respond to terrorist threats. Uganda was the largest troop-contributing nation to AMISOM. Uganda also coordinated with the DRC, CAR, and South Sudan to pursue the LRA.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: After the July 2010 terrorist attacks, Ugandan police increased outreach to local Muslim youth considered at-risk of recruitment by violent extremist groups.