Women and Justice: Court: Court of Appeals of Uganda

Domestic Case Law

Mushabe Abdul v. Uganda Court of Appeals of Uganda (2007)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Appellant was convicted of defilement of a four-year-old girl. The victim was sent to a well to fetch water for her family. On the victim’s way to the well, appellant grabbed the victim, threw her to the ground, and forcibly had sexual intercourse with her. He then fled but was later arrested. At trial, appellant denied the charges and claimed that the victim’s father had framed him. The trial court rejected his claim and sentenced him to 14 years imprisonment. On appeal, appellant requested a sentence reduction from 14 years to eight years. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal, holding that the 14-year sentence was not inappropriate or excessive, and that, in light of the circumstances, there was no reason to reduce the sentence.



Tumwesigye Kasim v. Uganda Court of Appeals of Uganda (2009)

Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

This appeal was limited to sentencing only. Appellant was convicted of defilement of a six-year-old girl and was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment. Appellant was a teacher at the victim’s school. The school held a special program for students during school holidays. During this program, appellant took the victim into his office at school and had sexual intercourse with her. Despite his warning not to tell anyone, the victim told her brother, who told her parents. A medical examiner confirmed that she had been defiled. On appeal, appellant argued that the sentence of 14 years was too harsh. In support, he argued that he was the sole breadwinner for 11 dependents, including two lame dependents and four orphans. Appellant also argued that since the victim was a very young child, she had already gotten over the trauma of the defilement. The court upheld the sentence and ruled against appellant. The court found that, as a teacher, he had a duty to protect the victim, but instead chose to ravish her, disgracing himself, his profession, and society.



Julius Rwabinumi v. Hope Bahimbisomwe Court of Appeals of Uganda (2008)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage

A husband appealed from a divorce proceeding ordering that the divorcing parties share various properties accumulated during the marriage (Ground No. 4). He contended that his wife (the respondent) had no right to such property because she did not produce evidence to prove her contribution to the acquisition of such property. The issues are whether there is an established legal formula for division of property after divorce, and whether spousal contribution plays a role in such division. After reviewing the traditional approach accounting for spousal contribution, the court found that the enactment of the 1995 Constitution drastically changed the wife’s legal position and rights after divorce. Specifically, Article 31(1) provides equal rights to husband and wife during marriage and dissolution. Thus, the court found that marital property jointly belonged to the husband and wife, and thus contribution to the property is irrelevant. Notwithstanding the parties’ right to freely contract prior to a marriage agreement, the court found that, upon dissolution, matrimonial property ought to be divided equally and shared “to the extent possible and practicable”.



Sgt. Canbera Dickson v. Uganda Court of Appeals of Uganda (2010)

Sexual violence and rape

This is an appeal challenging a rape conviction and sentencing of 15 years imprisonment. Appellant, an army sergeant, went to a village and used a gun to murder his maternal uncle. On the same day, he led his victim, a widow of appellant’s late brother, to an abandoned house and raped her at gunpoint. Three days later, the victim reported the incident and was medically examined. Because she recently had a baby, the medical examiner was unable to find any physical damage to her body. Appellant appeals on two main grounds: (1) without medical proof of penetration, the victim’s accusation requires corroboration to stand; (2) the sentence of 15 years was excessive. On appeal, the court accepted the prosecution’s argument that, because the victim was a new mother and was being held at gunpoint, it was very unlikely that she would have been physically damaged from the penetration or struggle. The court also followed prior precedent that held that, in certain criminal cases, corroboration was not necessary for a conviction. Concerning sentencing, the court also agreed with the prosecution. The court found that appellant had been given a gun by the military to protect the people of Uganda, but instead appellant used that gun to terrorize and rape the victim. Because of those circumstances, the court refused to be lenient, but rather increased appellant’s sentence to 25 years.