What you need to know:
This is the second attempt by Parliament through a Private Member’s Bill, to introduce a broader law that will address the evolving nature of sex crimes and the increase in cases of sexual violence
Parliament has given Soroti District Woman MP Anna Adeke permission to reintroduce the Sexual Offences Bill, which seeks to match Uganda’s laws with changes in the nature of sex crimes today.
Ms Adeke’s motion to reintroduce the Bill was approved by fellow MPs during a session chaired by Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa yesterday.
This is the second attempt by Parliament through a Private Member’s Bill, to introduce a broader law that will address the evolving nature of sex crimes and the increase in cases of sexual violence.
The 2022 police annual crime report shows that 1,623 cases of rape were reported to police in 2022 compared to 1,486 in 2021, giving an increase of 9.2 percent.
The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) MP told colleagues that “whereas Uganda has enacted various laws to curb sexual offences and sexual violence against women and children, incidents of sexual violence are increasing”, hence the need for a more specific law.
“There is a need for a single piece of legislation on sexual offences to guide the effective prevention, protection [of victims], and prosecution of these offences,” Ms Adeke explained.
It is hoped that a new law will cover those areas not included in some of the country’s outdated statutes that have been overtaken by technological advances – which have broadened the reach of sexual offences.
Ms Adeke’s motion was seconded by Ms Sarah Opendi (Tororo District Woman), Mr Amos Okot (Agago North) and Sarah Najjuma (Nakaseke District Woman), among others. Ms Adeke can now wait to formally table the Bill for parliamentary scrutiny at a date to be determined by the Speaker’s office.
For now, Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka said he did not have any legal issues to raise, although President Museveni’s objections and subsequent refusal to assent to the first Bill are well known.
The Bill is a resubmission of the Sexual Offences Bill, 2019, which was read for the first time on November 24, 2019. That effort, however, collapsed when the term of the 10th Parliament ran out.
Rule 235(1) of Parliament’s procedural regulations states that “a Bill, petition, motion, or other business before the House or a committee during a term of Parliament lapses upon dissolution of Parliament.”
Ms Adeke pointed out that Uganda’s Penal Code Act, and other laws relating to sexual offences, have become obsolete given advances in technology, meaning perpetrators of vices such as child grooming, which is rife on the Internet, can escape prosecution.
In August 2021, President Museveni refused to sign the Sexual Offences Bill, 2019, into law, calling many of its sections redundant since they were already provided for in other laws.
He received the Bill, which had been tabled by Ms Monica Amoding (former Kumi Woman MP), after Parliament had passed it in May, 2021.