Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Kisingiri v. Uganda High Court at Kampala (2016)

Sexual violence and rape

The appellant was convicted of having carnal knowledge of a person against the order of nature (i.e., homosexual sex acts, in this case anal sexual intercourse) in violation of section 145 of the Penal Code Act.  On appeal, appellant’s counsel emphasized the State offered no evidence of penetration, that corroboration is necessary in cases of sexual offenses, and the compromised credibility of several material prosecution witnesses, including a complainant.  Four years before the trial when he was 17 or 18, the complainant testified that he went to the Appellant’s home for a party, which never happened.  Instead, the Appellant gave the complainant a glass of wine and the complainant blacked out.  The next thing he remembered was anal bleeding and seeing the defendant entering the room.  The complainant testified that he was too ashamed to ask what happened.  The following day went to the doctor, who told the complainant that it seemed that he had been sodomized and gave him medication.  The appellate judge agreed with the trial judge that this did not amount to direct evidence of a sexual act.  Four years later in 2013, the complainant told Reverend Solomon Male about the assault after hearing him on the radio.  The police then searched the appellant’s home where they found chloroform, which the complainant was not examined for at his 2009 doctor’s appointment.  Both the trial and appellate judges noted that the fact that the complainant did not tell any of his housemates about his bleeding or assault at the time cast doubt on his account.  While medical evidence is not required for sexual assault cases, the court here was concerned that it found no evidence at all of sexual assault.  The Court found that the trial judge erred in finding that the complainant’s failure to report the assault in 2009 was “a natural reaction” as a result of shame, especially because no psychologist or behavioral specialist testified at trial.  The appellate court quashed the defendant’s conviction and sentence after finding that the prosecution failed to prove the first element of the offense, penetration, beyond a reasonable doubt.  The appellate court also mentioned a key witness’, Pastor Solomon Male’s, publication of “malicious information of sodomy” against Ugandan pastor Robert Kayanja, which is a reference to an incident in which a boy who had accused Kayanja of sodomy withdrew his accusations and said that Male and several of his colleagues paid him and other boys to accuse the minister.  In that case, Male and his clergy colleagues were convicted of conspiring to destroy Kayanja’s name and professional reputation.



Oloka-Onyango & 9 Others v. Attorney General Constitutional Court of Uganda (2014)

Gender discrimination

Petitioners sued, claiming the Speaker of Parliament allowed a vote to pass Anti-Homosexuality Act (“AHA”) of 2014 without the mandated quorum (alternatively “Coram”), which requires the presences of one-third of all voting Members of Parliament.  Petitioners also claimed the AHA was unconstitutional because it violated LGBTQ people’s right to privacy and freedom from cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment.  The Court held that the Petitioners demonstrated that the vote proceeded without the necessary quorum, which meant Petitioners prevailed without the Court reaching the issues regarding the substance of the AHA.



Nabagesera & 3 Others v. Attorney General & Another High Court at Kampala (2014)

Gender discrimination

Members of Freedom and Roam Uganda (“FARUG”) sued the Attorney General and Minister of Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo for violating their constitutional rights to freedom of assembly, right to participate in peaceful civil society activity, and right to equal treatment before the law.  In February 2012, Minister Lokodo personally appeared at and ordered closed down a FARUG-hosted “project planning, advocacy, human rights, leadership, and business skills” workshop in 2012 on the grounds that the workshop was an “illegal gathering of [h]omosexuals.”  The respondents argued that Uganda Penal Code (sec. 148) prohibits homosexual acts, which includes the prohibition of direct or indirect encouragement, incitement, and conspiracy to commit the offense.  Citing the Uganda Penal Code, Constitution of Uganda, and African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Court held that individual human rights are not absolute and may be restricted in the public interest as long as the restrictions do not amount to political persecution.  Calling the workshops “a pretext for human rights advocacy to promote homosexual acts which are prohibited by the Ugandan laws,” the Court rejected Applicants’ freedom of expression arguments because their activities constituted “offenses against morality” and “prejudicial to the public interest.”  In response to Applicants’ use of international human rights law, the Court held that Uganda’s “different laws and moral values” require different definitions and protections of the public interest than those cited in precedent from the UN, South Africa, the European Court of Human Rights, Hong Kong, etc.  The Court also rejected the suit against the Minister of Ethics and Integrity in his individual capacity because he was acting in his official capacity, meaning the Attorney General was the only proper respondent.



Wanasolo v. Uganda High Court at Mbale (2015)

Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

Appellant, a school librarian, was accused of multiple instances of indecent assault, rape, and sodomy by several students.  At least one student accused the appellant of “grooming” him for homosexuality.  On appeal, the Court found that the trial court erred by dismissing the appellant’s evidence before he presented it, refusing to let him call witnesses, and allowing her biases to interfere with the appellant's right to a fair trial.  The High Court overturned the verdict and set aside the sentence.