Year
Uganda
x

    Uganda

    Capital

    Kampala

    Population

    44,269,594

    Area

    241,550 km²

    Geography type

    Landlocked

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    USD 35,165.16 million

    GDP per capita

    $794.00

    Income group

    Low income

    6.140.09

    Criminality Score

    13th of 54 African countries

    5th of 9 East Africa countries

    Criminal market

    5.650.30

    Human Trafficking

    7.002.50

    Human Smuggling

    5.001.00

    Arms Trafficking

    6.501.50

    Flora Crimes

    6.00-1.00

    Fauna Crimes

    6.500.00

    Non-Renewable Resource Crimes

    7.000.00

    Heroin Trade

    5.000.00

    Cocaine Trade

    3.500.50

    Cannabis Trade

    6.00-1.00

    Synthetic Drug Trade

    4.00-0.50

    Criminal Actors

    6.63-0.12

    Mafia-Style Groups

    5.00-0.50

    Criminal Networks

    7.000.50

    State-Embedded Actors

    7.500.00

    Foreign Actors

    7.00-0.50

    3.960.33

    Resilience Score

    26th of 54 African countries

    5th of 9 East Africa countries

    Political Leadership and Governance

    5.001.00

    Government Transparency and Accountability

    2.000.00

    International Cooperation

    5.000.50

    National Policies and Laws

    5.001.50

    Judicial System and Detention

    4.000.50

    Law Enforcement

    4.001.00

    Territorial Integrity

    5.501.00

    Anti-Money Laundering

    3.000.00

    Economic Regulatory Capacity

    3.500.00

    Victim and Witness Support

    2.00-1.00

    Prevention

    4.000.00

    Non-State Actors

    4.50-0.50

    3.9583333333333 6.625 5.65 3.9583333333333 6.625 5.65

    3.960.33

    Resilience Score

    26th of 54 African countries

    5th of 9 East Africa countries

    Political Leadership and Governance

    5.001.00

    Government Transparency and Accountability

    2.000.00

    International Cooperation

    5.000.50

    National Policies and Laws

    5.001.50

    Judicial System and Detention

    4.000.50

    Law Enforcement

    4.001.00

    Territorial Integrity

    5.501.00

    Anti-Money Laundering

    3.000.00

    Economic Regulatory Capacity

    3.500.00

    Victim and Witness Support

    2.00-1.00

    Prevention

    4.000.00

    Non-State Actors

    4.50-0.50

    01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09

    People

    Despite a reported decline in recent years, human trafficking remains a significant issue in Uganda, which is a country of origin, a waypoint and destination market for human trafficking. Trafficking primarily takes the form of forced labour, sexual exploitation, recruitment for armed groups and forced begging. Many Ugandans who seek to migrate to countries in the Gulf, Asia or East Africa are vulnerable to deceptive practices by traffickers who guise as recruitment agencies. Inside Uganda, a high number of abducted children are known to be subject to some form of forced labour such as forced begging or prostitution.

    Uganda is a key human smuggling hub in East Africa. Corruption and the country’s key geographic positioning render Uganda a haven for smugglers. While most labour migration recruitment agencies are legitimate and subject to government oversight, many cooperate with migrant smuggling networks and engage in document falsification, bribery or other criminal acts. Most irregular labour migration occurs from Uganda to the Middle East or Asia.

    Trade

    Uganda is believed to be a hub for arms trafficking across East, Central and West Africa. Although licenses are required to acquire, possess or transfer firearms or ammunition in Uganda, illegal gun ownership is widespread and rates of gun violence are high. These issues have been exacerbated by the historic conflicts between Uganda and neighbouring countries as well as leakage of arms owned by the security forces. Small arms trafficking, in particular, flourishes in areas and borderlands affected by conflicts between pastoralist and farming communities and conflicts in neighbouring countries. Uganda is also a source country for trafficked arms. A number of ammunition and small arms manufacturers operate domestically, with Luwero Industries being the largest. Supplies from these manufacturers have allegedly been trafficked to a range of actors in Africa, including Somali and Congolese militias. Nevertheless, arms trafficking is believed to have reduced in Uganda following the demobilization and relocation of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) abroad.

    Environment

    Uganda’s environmental criminal markets are vast and pervasive. Large amounts of timber production in Uganda is illegal and the failure to comply with regulatory requirements, pay taxes or declare timber products is common. As a result of large-scale illicit logging, Ugandan forest cover has dropped substantially in recent decades and some tree species are now on the brink of extinction. Logs harvested may either be exported to foreign countries or used for charcoal production and export. In addition to being a source country for illegal flora crimes, illegally harvested timber from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is sometimes re-exported out of Uganda. Illicit timber smuggling in Uganda is believed to be, at least partly, controlled by criminal actors who simultaneously engage in gold smuggling and ivory smuggling across the region. Locals from poor communities, brokers who purchase timber and corrupt authorities alike profit from illicit logging in Uganda, while government officials have reportedly facilitated illicit logging.

    Uganda is a key wildlife trafficking hub. Most wildlife products from the region are destined for Asia (particularly China), the Middle East or re-exported out of Kenya and Tanzania. Uganda is a leading source country and trading hub for ivory and pangolin scale trade as well as products from poached lions, chimpanzees, various endangered reptiles and birds. Nevertheless, although it continues to a certain extent, bird exports from Uganda have declined significantly. Overfishing is another significant issue that poses a severe threat to biodiversity, particularly around Lake Victoria. In addition to being an important source country, Uganda is an important transit hub for illicit wildlife products from the DRC and South Sudan. Wildlife trafficking in Uganda remains well organized and powerful actors in the market both finance poaching and facilitate the cross-border smuggling of wildlife, while state-embedded criminals have participated in the criminal market.

    Uganda imports high volumes of gold before refining and re-exporting it. Uganda’s gold export sector has grown extraordinarily in recent years. However, discrepancies between the production and declared import and export indicate illegality in Uganda’s gold industry. Indeed, a significant amount of gold is smuggled into Uganda from Ituri in the DRC and South Sudan. Smugglers often collaborate with the Ugandan military and armed groups in both the DRC and South Sudan. Illicit sand mining is another pervasive criminal market. Illegal sand mining primarily occurs in rural districts of Masaka, Wakiso, Kalungu, Gomba and Mpigi around Lake Victoria, and is increasingly controlled by a combination of state-embedded actors, state-affiliated enterprises and powerful individuals with strong political connections. Sand mining cartels reportedly pose as sand mining investment agencies and trade the commodity primarily for use in mega-infrastructure projects in African and global construction markets.

    Drugs

    Uganda is a destination country for heroin as well as a transit hub for shipments destined for Europe and Asia. Heroin trafficked through Uganda is being transported across the Indian Ocean to Africa’s east coast, entering Uganda via Kenya or Tanzania through concealment in the bodies of drug mules or among export goods. Heroin consumption primarily occurs among urban crowds, with evidence suggesting a relatively young consumer base. Uganda’s domestic cocaine market is expanding, with the consumption of both cocaine and crack cocaine on the rise. Uganda also plays a significant role in the regional cocaine market, serving as a transit country for cocaine trafficking in the Great Lakes region. Cocaine trafficking is controlled by foreign criminal actors, and syndicates dominating the market in the country reportedly comprise a range of Ugandan, Italian, Serbian, Rwandan, Kenyan and West African criminals who operate in Kampala and Entebbe.

    Cannabis is the most widely available drug in Uganda, with cultivation occurring in multiple districts across the country. Uganda serves significant parts of the cannabis markets in Southern and Western African destinations. In January 2020, the Ugandan Ministry of Health approved the export of cannabis for medicinal purposes, as well as the domestic use of cannabis for medicine, rendering the country more significant in the global legal cannabis trade. Criminal markets for synthetic drugs appear to be limited in size. Drugs such as methamphetamine and ephedrine have been detected in Uganda, but they are reportedly too expensive for most Ugandan consumers. Most criminals involved in the market operate from Kenya, utilizing Ugandans as drug couriers.

    Criminal Actors

    Many loose criminal networks engage in organized criminal activities in Uganda. High levels of corruption and an abundance of resources enable these networks to operate across various criminal markets, including non-renewable resources, fauna and flora markets, human smuggling, arms trafficking, drugs counterfeiting and other crimes. Uganda’s flora and fauna trafficking markets, in particular, are very well organized, and both financed and facilitated by influential individuals with links to corrupt public and private sector officials. Another type of actor that plays an important role in Uganda’s criminal markets comprises armed groups, militias and armed non-state actors, which resemble mafia-style groups. Prominent examples include the Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU), the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and the LRA. The ADF-NALU is based along the Ugandan–Congolese border in North Kivu in the eastern DRC and engages in illicit gold mining, timber smuggling and precious metal mining between Uganda and the DRC. It is also known to abduct and traffic children. The ADF is an Islamist-rooted rebel militia engaged in wars in the DRC (particularly Ituri), financing itself in large part via different environmental criminal markets. Although the LRA was formed and previously based in northern Uganda, the group has largely been forced out of the country. However, it remains active and currently operates in South Sudan, the DRC and the Central African Republic. The LRA is engaged in poaching, arms trafficking as well as sex and combat trafficking of children.

    Apart from criminal networks and armed non-state actors, corruption makes Uganda an attractive hub for foreign criminal actors. Many organized criminal groups operating in or out of the country are multinational, and criminal actors from an array of South American, Asian, European and African countries have a presence in the country. High-level Ugandan officials have been implicated in organized crime in the environmental criminal markets, and police, customs and judiciary officials are known to accept bribes. Moreover, officials have been accused of colluding with fraudulent recruitment agencies that engage in human smuggling and trafficking, while military officials have been accused of cooperating with armed groups in the DRC and South Sudan.

    Leadership and governance

    The Ugandan government has publicly taken a strong stance against organized crime. Nevertheless, the implementation and enforcement of anti-organized crime measures are significantly lacking. Pockets of fragility continue to make Uganda vulnerable to organized crime, while systemic grand and political corruption enables state-embedded criminality and complicates responses. The Ugandan government has signed and ratified most international treaties and conventions pertaining to organized crime. The country has established a series of extradition agreements with other members of the Commonwealth as well as bilateral labour agreements with labour-receiving countries in the Middle East and across the globe. Uganda has a powerful legislative framework against transnational organized crime, generated largely due to its long history of armed conflict. The framework includes laws on human trafficking, wildlife crime, laws regulating mineral trade and laws on forfeiture of criminal proceeds. However, despite the existence of anti-organized crime legislation, implementation remains a significant challenge, reportedly because of lack of funding.

    Criminal justice and security

    Uganda's judiciary lacks independence, the ability to consistently guarantee fair trials for criminal defendants and suffers from high levels of corruption and low levels of trust. Moreover, inadequate funding and staffing hamper the administration of justice. Prison conditions have often been found poor with overcrowding and lacking in sanitary conditions. Much like the courts, the police enjoy low levels of trust while suffering from institutional underfunding, low salaries and high rates of bribery and institutional corruption. Many Ugandan law enforcement officials are involved in criminal markets or amass illicit wealth through other means. However, internationally supported efforts have attempted to strengthen the ability of both the courts and law-enforcement agencies to respond to organized crime and corruption. Overall, the country has a moderate ability to ensure its territorial integrity, but smuggling activities continue to thrive because of the porousness of the borders that Uganda shares with its neighbours.

    Economic and financial environment

    Uganda’s economy is reliant on agriculture and informal economic sectors, which are often low-productivity and subsistence-based. Structural transformation has driven growth and poverty reduction in the country, but the country continues to suffer from low levels of human capital. Private sector development faces several constraints, including corruption and weak public procurement rules. Illicit financial flows are a substantial issue in Uganda and the country is heavily exposed to tax evasion and money laundering. Uganda was on the Financial Action Task Force money-laundering blacklist between 2014 and 2017, but notable progress has been made since. However, despite improvements, Uganda’s capacity to address money laundering remains limited, allowing the country to be used for actors who wish to evade sanctions or launder money. Sanctions for money laundering have not always been enforced, and the lack of investigative capacity has resulted in several stalled or dropped cases.

    Civil society and social protection

    While Uganda lacks legislation providing for the protection of witnesses, the judiciary has established guidelines for witness protection. Witness protection legislation has been subject to debate in the Ugandan parliament and a more comprehensive witness protection programme could be implemented in the near future. The government has introduced organized crime prevention policies as well as sector-specific initiatives that could potentially have a crime-preventive impact. In that respect, efforts towards prevention of human trafficking have been noteworthy. The country enacted a trafficking in persons prevention act in 2009 and has been engaging in public sensitisation, capacity building and training of relevant officials and collaboration with partner counterparts, mainly in destination countries. However, whether these initiatives will be effective remains in question. Non-state actors such as NGOs and churches play a significant role in victim support in Uganda and do important work in areas such as combatting human trafficking and rehabilitating drug users. However, the space for civil society has been shrinking over the years and authorities have sometimes targeted civil-society organizations that engage in politically sensitive issues, such as accountability and transparency in governance. Moreover, intimidation and violence against journalists, especially by state security forces, occurs often, resulting in a repressive media environment.

    Analyses

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    The criminal markets score is represented by the pyramid base size and the criminal actors score is represented by the pyramid height, on a scale ranging from 1 to 10. The resilience score is represented by the panel height, which can be identified by the side of the panel.