RISE

is a US-based nonprofit supporting survivors of acid & burns violence around the world.  We empower survivors & student advocates to realize their potential to create meaningful change.

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About Uganda

Population: ~47 million

Average Salary/Year: 79,594,263 UGX or $21,766 USD

Poverty rate: In 2016, around 40% of the population lived on $1.90 USD/day

What is acid violence?

Acid violence is a form of gender based violence and discrimination prohibited under the international human right law. It involves acts of violence in which the perpetrators throw acid on a person’s face or body with the intention of causing physical and/or psychological harm to that person[1].

Acid violence is a significant crime in Uganda, with devastating consequences for survivors, their families, and society. Acid violence is rarely fatal, but it almost always leaves survivors with severe physical and/or psychological scarring. It can also lead to social stigmatization, the break-up of families, and destitution. Survivors are often left with no legal recourse, limited access to medical or psychological assistance, and no means to support themselves. Acid attacks also place additional burdens on Uganda’s already under-resourced police, judiciary, health, and social services.

Are there currently any laws in Uganda against acid attacks?

Acid violence is an offence punishable under the Penal Code Act, Cap 120. Perpetrators of acid or burn violence intending to maim are liable to life imprisonment. When the acid attacks are pre-meditated and lead to death, it is considered murder and is punishable by death.

In 2016, the Ugandan government passed the Toxic Chemicals and Prohibition Bill. Uganda  also has other legislations in regards to chemicals including:

  • THE TOXIC CHEMICALS PROHIBITION AND CONTROL ACT, 2016
  • The Agricultural Chemicals (Control) Act, 2006
  • National Environment Act, Cap 153.
  • The Uganda National Bureau of Standards Act, Cap 327
  • The Control of Agricultural Chemicals Act, No 1 of 2007;
  • The East African Community Customs Management Act, No 1 of 2005;
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Act, No 9 of 2006;
  • The Investment Code, Cap 92.

Why have these laws not been enough to stop acid attacks?

The Toxic Chemicals and Prohibition Act is a good start, but it is too general in nature. There is a need for a law that is very specific to acid, focusing on the misuse of acid, and highlighting the penalties for perpetrators.

In the study done by the Agro-Tourism Association, it was found that many people were not aware of any laws pertaining to the management of chemicals. These legislations have limitations such as:

  • Overlaps in institutional mandate (institutional conflict)
  • Poor coordination and cooperation between government agencies
  • A lag time between passing a given law and actually enforcing it
  • Citizen participation in policy drafting, implementation and monitoring is limited
  • Some of the policies are outdated

In addition, the current laws are not adequately enforced. Many acid attack survivors have not yet received justice, owing to loopholes in the law. Those who report to the police are told to report as first hand witnesses, but since many survivors do not testify, many perpetrators have been set free.

There is also a lack of resources to prosecute cases, lack of legal support for victims, and a shortage of defense lawyers. It is clear that the acid survivors need comprehensive support so they can seek justice and receive the medical, psychological, and economic help required to rebuild their lives.

What kind of laws can be passed as a result of the Ugandan government listening to our petition?

Some recommendations for legal reforms that can be made to help prevent acid attacks include:

  1. Enactment of stricter laws that criminalize illegal acid dealings and misuse. The laws should provide for the:
    • Denial of bail to those found guilty
    • Stricter charges
    • Compensation to the acid attack survivors
  2. Formulation and Implementation of a national acid policy- this should include clauses discussing:
    • Acid accessibility and availability
    • Licensing, distribution and storage
    • General trading
  3. Support the investigating agencies, such as the police, with financial resources and technical knowledge to enable them do a thorough investigative job

[1] https://www.ohchr.org/documents/hrbodies/cedaw/harmfulpractices/avonglobalcenterforwomenandjustice.pdf

The information above is based off of the Report on The Situational Analysis for Acid Violence in Uganda by the Agro-Tourism Association.

 

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