The government of Uganda has failed to hold to account senior officials implicated in the theft and diversion of public funds, Human Rights Watch and Yale Law School’s Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic said in a joint report released on Monday.
No high-ranking government official, minister, or political appointee has ever served a prison sentence despite investigations into numerous corruption scandals over many years and an impressive array of anti-corruption institutions. Activists fighting corruption face arrest and criminal charges.
The 63-page report, “Letting the Big Fish Swim: Failure To Prosecute High Level Corruption In Uganda” documents Uganda’s failure to hold the highest members of its government accountable for large scale graft, despite repeated pledges to eradicate corruption and good technical work from investigators and prosecutors.
The groups analyzed officials’ use of legal loopholes and laws that insulate political appointees from accountability to elude punishment. A lack of political will has crippled Uganda’s anti-corruption institutions, undermining their efforts through political interference, harassment, and threats.
“Scandal after scandal, the government’s patronage politics and lack of political will undermine the fight against corruption in Uganda,” said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher.
She added saying ““Throughout President Yoweri Museveni’s 27 years in office his promises to tackle corruption have proliferated while officials responsible for graft at the highest levels go free.”
In 2012 approximately 30 percent of Uganda’s national budget came from donor support. Donors have suspended aid at various times in response to high-profile graft, but donor funding has nearly always resumed despite the lack of significant reform or high-level prosecutions.