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Uganda has dedicated counterterrorism legislation from 2002 that carries the mandatory death penalty for terrorist offences that result in death.

Compliance with International Law:
Last updated: one year ago

The Definition of Terrorism in Domestic Law

Section 7(2) of the 2002 Anti-Terrorism Act defines terrorism as follows:

A person commits an act of terrorism who, for purposes of influencing the Government or intimidating the public or a section of the public and for a political, religious, social or economic aim, indiscriminately without due regard to the safety of others or property, carries out all or any of the following acts—

(a) intentional and unlawful manufacture, delivery, placement, discharge or detonation of an explosive or other lethal device, whether attempted or actual, in, into or against a place of public use, a State or Government facility, a public transportation system or an infrastructure facility, with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, or extensive destruction likely to or actually resulting in major economic loss

(b) direct involvement or complicity in the murder, kidnapping, maiming or attack, whether actual, attempted or threatened, on a person or groups of persons, in public or private institutions;

(c) direct involvement or complicity in the murder, kidnapping, abducting, maiming or attack, whether actual, attempted or threatened on the person, official premises, private accommodation, or means of transport or diplomatic agents or other internationally protected persons;

(d) intentional and unlawful provision or collection of funds, whether attempted or actual, with the intention or knowledge that any part of the funds may be used to carry out any of the terrorist activities under this Act;

(e) direct involvement or complicity in the seizure or detention of and threat to kill, injure or continue to detain a hostage, whether actual or attempted in order to compel a State, an international intergovernmental organisation, a person or group of persons, to do or abstain from doing any act as an explicit or implicit condition for the release of the hostage;

(f) unlawful seizure of an aircraft or public transport or the hijacking of passengers or group of persons for ransom;

(g) serious interference with or disruption of an electronic system;

(h) unlawful importation, sale, making, manufacture or distribution of any firearms, explosive, ammunition or bomb;

(i)   intentional development or production or use of, or complicity in the development or production or use of a biological weapon; 

(j)   unlawful possession of explosives, ammunition, bomb or any materials for making of any of the foregoing.

Adherence to Global and Regional Terrorism Treaties


Uganda is a State Party to most of the main United Nations treaties on terrorism.


Adherence to Global Terrorism Treaties
Treaty Adherence
1973 Convention on Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons State Party
1979 Hostage-Taking Convention State Party
1997 Terrorist Bombings Convention State Party
1999 Terrorist Financing Convention State Party
2005 Nuclear Terrorism Convention State not party


Uganda is also a State Party to one of the two regional treaties on terrorism.


Adherence to Regional Terrorism Treaties
Treaty Adherence
1999 Algiers Convention State Party
2004 Protocol to the Algiers Convention Signatory

Laws and Penalties for Terrorist Offences

According to Section 7(1) of the 2002 Act,

any person who engages in or carries out any act of terrorism commits an offence and shall, on conviction— 

(a) be sentenced to death if the offence directly results in the death of any person;

(b) in any other case, be liable to suffer death.

The mandatory death penalty is a violation of international human rights law.

The 2002 Act is also abused to target opponents of the regime.

Counterterrorism Capacities and Policies at Domestic Level

The Ugandan Defence Forces and Police are both engaged in counterterrorism operations. The Directorate of Counter-Terrorism is mandated with "investigating, disrupting and responding to terrorist incidents in Uganda" and is in charge of the Counter-Terrorism Police Unit.

The Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force (JATT), which was created on 13 May 1999 to address the 1998 bombings in Kampala, is headed by the director of counter-terrorism. The Task Force, which was established without an Act of Parliament or an Official Directive, is under the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence. According to Human Rights Watch, JATT has committed serious human rights violations in the course of its operations, including prolonged incommunicado detention of suspects and the use of torture during interrogations.


Uganda 2002 Anti-Terrorism Act

Uganda 2017 Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Act

ICJ Position Paper on the 2002 POTA