Uganda: Properly investigate and prosecute cases of sexual violence against the disabled

UPDATE 19 MARCH 2013: The remaining suspect in the case, who had run away, was found dead in early 2013. However, Equality Now is calling for DNA testing of his body at the government’s expense without delay.

Equality Now has issued an Action calling on the Government of Uganda to take additional steps to improve the investigation process and prosecution rate in sexual violence cases involving disabled victims.

In 2007 Sanyu, a 13-year-old blind, deaf and mute Ugandan girl, was raped and became pregnant as a result, but was unable to communicate the identity of her rapist due to her condition. Her mother called for DNA testing of Sanyu’s father and three brothers (the only males who had access to her) and the baby to establish paternity, aided by our Ugandan partner, Legal Action for Persons with Disabilities (LAPD). The Government, however, did not respond to the official request and the police closed the case. Upon learning about the case, Equality Now successfully raised funds for DNA in 2011, and with the assistance of LAPD, had the case reopened. Four years after the rape, DNA samples were taken from three of the four suspects (one brother had run away) and sent to the Government chemist for testing. The testing languished for over a year and when finally received, the results showed that the baby’s father was genetically of the same paternal line, though none of the three tested were the father of Sanyu’s baby. To our knowledge no effort has been made by the police to apprehend and test the remaining suspect.

Equality Now and LAPD Uganda are seriously disturbed by the lack of a thorough investigation and the five year delay in justice for Sanyu, who is now 18, and are calling for improved legal procedures in cases of sexual violence and for additional steps to be taken to help disabled victims.

Sexual violence is widespread in Uganda and disabled women and girls are particularly vulnerable. The Constitution of Uganda and The Persons with Disabilities Act, 2006 upholds the rights of people with disabilities and provides for the elimination of all forms of discrimination and toward equal opportunities for them. However, the government does not take the additional steps needed to implement investigative techniques that will facilitate justice for disabled victims of sexual violence, leading to their further victimization.

Please join Equality Now and our partner LAPD in calling on the Ugandan government to live up to their domestic and international obligations by:

  • Conduct DNA testing on the body of the remaining suspect at the government’s expense without delay.
  • Ensuring that all relevant investigative techniques, including DNA testing, are promptly carried out in cases of sexual violence, and in particular, those concerning disabled victims.

Richard Buteera

Director of Public Prosecutions

Hon. Chief Justice Benjamin Joseph Odoki

Chief Justice of Uganda

Lady Justic Alice E. Mpagi-Bahigeine

Deputy Chief Justice of Uganda

To learn more about the campaign & for a list of full contact information for the government officials above, see: