Women and Justice: Court: Court of Appeal at Kampala

Domestic Case Law

Mugasa v. Uganda Court of Appeal at Kampala (2010)

Statutory rape or defilement

This appeal was limited to sentencing only. Appellant was convicted of defilement of a baby girl and was sentenced to 17 years imprisonment. Appellant was a relative of the child and was known as a teacher of Christianity. Appellant requested a more lenient sentence of 10 years. The Court of Appeals ruled against Appellant and increased his sentence to 25 years, citing the policy consideration that, despite the fact that defilement can be punishable by death, individuals still continue to defile babies. Thus, the court used this case as an opportunity to send a message to society that “violating the rights of child females must stop.”

Mbatudde v. Uganda Court of Appeal at Kampala (2010)

Acid violence, Domestic and intimate partner violence

The victim died from concentrated sulfuric acid burns covering over 60% of his body.  On the night of his death, the deceased’s female partner, the appellant, and baby spent the night with him.  On the night of the attack, his landlords heard screaming coming from the apartment.  When they arrived, they saw the victim, who said he did not know who attacked him, and the Appellant, who did not appear to have any burns.  The appellant argued that she did not commit the attack and that they both had been attacked by a third party, possibly a former partner of the appellant.  On appeal, she argued that the trial court had improperly convicted her solely based on circumstantial evidence and that the death sentence should be mitigated.  The Court of Appeal rejected these arguments and upheld the conviction and sentence because of the particularly heinous nature of acid attacks.

Kalibobo v. Uganda Court of Appeal at Kampala (2001)

Gender-based violence in general, Sexual violence and rape

The trial court sentenced the 25-year-old Appellant to 17 years in prison after finding him guilty of raping a 70-year-old widow from a neighboring village.  The trial court rejected the defense that he was not in her village at the time of the rape.  The trial court found that in November 1998 the Appellant broke into the home of the victim, who confronted him with a panga (machete).  While raping her after disarming her, the victim called out and the Appellant, worried about being caught, fled with her panga.  The police found the panga in his home the next day and he was arrested.  The Appellant contested his sentence, arguing that it was manifestly harsh because he has a wife, two children, and two young brothers to care for.  The State contended that the sentence was appropriate because of the victim’s age and family circumstances.  The standard for appellate court interference is a sentence that is “manifestly excessive or low in view of the circumstances of the case.”  The Court noted that the crime of rape, particularly the rape of “grandmothers,” is prevalent in the area and very serious.  The Court held “[t]he appellant raped an old lady.  That was bad.  However, considering all the circumstances of the case, we think that a sentence of 17 years imprisonment was manifestly so excessive as to cause a miscarriage of justice” and reduced the sentence to seven years.  

Yang Zheng Jun v. Uganda Court of Appeal at Kampala (2013)

Statutory rape or defilement, Trafficking in persons

The Chinese accused was charged with aggravated trafficking in children, aggravated defilement, and simple defilement.  After the accused complained that his Chinese translator was not effectively communicating with him, the trial court judge canceled the accused’s bail and adjourned the proceedings until a replacement translator could be found.  The Appeals Court found that the trial court judge improperly revoked the accused’s bail application and ordered it reinstated.

Syson Muganga v. Uganda Court of Appeal at Kampala (2008)

Acid violence, Gender-based violence in general

The trial court found the appellant guilty of attempted murder for splashing acid on the female complainant.  The appellant allegedly knocked on the victim’s door on July 28, 2001, and splashed “a corrosive substance.”  The trial court relied on testimony from a security guard and the victim, who knew her attacker from school.  On appeal, the appellant argued that the trial judge erred in confirming the life imprisonment sentence.  The Court, after reviewing the testimony identifying the appellant, her motive, and the “vulnerable parts of the victim’s body” that were burned, found that the life sentence was reasonable for the “outrageously despicable and sadistic act.”