Joseph A. Semugabi, October 2013
About the author
This guide was written by Joseph Semugabi, Chief Librarian of the Law Development Centre in Uganda.
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The Republic of Uganda is a land-locked country located in East Africa. It became a British Protectorate in 1894, the territory of Buganda in the central-southern region being recognized as a separate kingdom under its Kabaka (king). In 1961 it was granted internal self-government with federal status for Buganda. It obtained independence in1962 and became a Republic in 1967.
Under the Independence Constitution of 1962 a unicameral National Assembly replaced the Legislative Council - an arrangement which lasted until 1971 when democratic institutions were abolished under the dictatorial rule of Idi Amin (1971 - 79). When Amin was overthown an Interim Parliament was set up and it acted as the Supreme Legislative Body until 1980. It was then replaced by the Fourth Parliament which lasted until 1985 when the government was overthrown in yet another military coup. Meanwhile the civil war which had been raging since 1981 was to come to an end in 1986 when the National Resistance Movement under Lt. General Museveni came to power and set up the National Resistance Council. This lasted until 1994 when a Constituent Assembly was established to finalize the new constitution promulgated in 1996. Under this Constitution the supreme legislative body is the unicameral Parliament of Uganda. Museveni still remains the President after winning two "non-party" elections in 1996 and 2001 and two multi-party elections in 2006 and 2011.
See the following link for more information about Uganda: Uganda National Web Portal - www.gov.ug.
The IALS Library Uganda Library collection in cludes both primary and secondary legal materials, that is, legislation, law reports, text books and journals.
Since independence from British rule Uganda has had four Constitutions dated 1962, 1966, 1967 and 1995. The preparation of the first three Constitutions excluded the participation of the ordinary citizenry. It is the1995 Constitution that has been most liberal and enduring. It was enacted and promulgated on 8th October 1995 by the peoples' elected Constituent Assembly, effectively replacing the 1967 Constitution, popularly known as the 'pigeon hole' constitution. In effect the country had returned, albeit progressively, to democratic governance, rule of law and the observance of basic human rights.
Since its promulgation the 1995 Constitution has been Amendended three times by the Constitution (Amendment) Act No.13 of 2000; the Constitution (Amendment) Act No.11 of 2005; and the Constitution (Amendment) (No. 2) Act No. 21 of 2005. The Reprint of the Constitution reflecting these amendments is available at the IALS Library on Level 2 and can be cited as: The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda (as at 15th February 2006); Kampala: Uganda Law Reform Commission , with Classmark GI3.C.1 UGA.
Also available at the IALS are texts of Uganda's previous constitutions, i.e., 1962, 1966 [Depositary 17488/32905] & 1967 [Depositary 32904/GI3.C.1 AAA], as well as various materials on constitutionalism and the constitutional making process in Uganda.
Other sources of the constitution at the IALS Library include the 2000 Revised Edition of the Laws of Uganda Vol. 1 (duly listed in the catalogue); and World Constitutions Illustrated, a module of the HeinOnline subscription database (see IALS Electronic Law Library).
IALS Library has both the colonial and post colonial legislation of Uganda. These laws are available either on the open shelves or on reference only basis and they constitute ordinances/regulations of 1895 -1962, Acts of Parliament of 1962 - 1970, Decrees from 1971 - 1979, Principal Legislation (a mixture of statutes, acts, ordinance & decrees) from 1980 - 1996, then Acts of Parliament from 1996 - 2000. The inconsistency in terminology evident when describing the laws of Uganda is due to the different types of politico-legal systems typical of colonial and post-colonial Uganda.
The Laws of Uganda are supposed to be revised and consolidated every 10 years. The latest revision, which is also available in the Library, is the 2000 Revised Laws of Uganda constituting both Acts and Subsidiary Legislation in two sets colored red for the Acts and blue for Subsidiary legislation. This is a set of 28 volumes numbered accordingly whereby Volume 1 - 13 constitute Principal Legislation and Volume 14 - 28 constitute Subsidiary Legislation. The 2000 Edition replaced the 1964 Edition which is also available in the library (see Library Catalogue).
The older laws from 1895 - 1964 constitute a substantial and arguably complete collection that provides a one-stop source of information about the evolution of uganda's legal system. These are listed in the Catalogue and include:
- Orders in Council
- Ordinances and the native Laws of Buganda
- Ordinances and Regulations
- Rules, Orders and Notices
- Emergency and Defence Regulations
- 1936 Revised and Consolidated Laws of Uganda Protectorate
Secondary sources of legislation prepared under specific subjects in law are also available in the library and include:
- Compendiums of electoral, commercial, banking and insurance laws;
- Kampala Law Reports (KALR) Criminal, Family and Civil Practice Legislation
- Juta’s Criminal Practice Legislation
- Statutes and Cases on about Law in Uganda
- Individual Re-prints of certain laws like the Workers’ Compensation Act No. 8 of 2000.
These are however classified as monographs, i.e., GI3.D...
IALS holds series of the official Ugandan Law Reports since the colonial era. All series are duly listed in the Library Catalogue and can be accessed either by the title entry or class mark which is GI3.G.1. They include:
- The Uganda Protectorate Law Reports in Seven Volumes from 1904 to 1956
- The Uganda Law Reports 1956 - 1957; Part 2 of 1971; Part 1 & 2 of 1972 (as well as 1990s & 2000 volumes)
- Buganda Customary Law Reports 1940 - 1958
- Uganda Human Rights Reporter 2002 & 2008
- Monthy High Court Bulletins 1972
The following constitute the Un-Official Reports:
- Kampala Law Reports 1989 – 2009
- Kampala Law Reports Besigye Versus Museveni Presidential Election Petition
Other regional Law Reports where Ugandan cases are also reported include the East African Law Reports 1957-1975, 1995 – 2003, 2007 Vol. 1&2.
Uganda Law Reports can also be freely obtained from online sources like Uganda Legal Information Institute (ULII) website.
IALS has a small selection of reports and other publications by Ugandan official bodies like the Inspector General of Government (IGG) and the Uganda Law Reform Commission. All these publications are duly listed in the catalogue.
The British Library has a substantial collection of official publications from Uganda, including the Uganda Gazette and its forerunners. For more information, see the British Library website.
Other official publications may be available on government websites - see the Uganda Government Official Portal for links.
The IALS Library has at least 91 books dealing with law and politics as well as secondary sources of legislation and cases of Uganda. This collection is definitely still growing with an ever wider coverage. Most of these are located on shelves in L2 and available for borrowing. Over 50% of the books are 1990 and 2000 publications.
The following subjects are represented in this collection, i.e., contract law, land law, revenue law, equity & trusts, constitutionalism, civil and criminal practice, tort, human rights, banking and insurance.
There are also a few materials discussing Ugandan politics as well as compendiums of legislation and cases in relation to a particular subject matter in law.
All these reading materials are accessible via the catalogue and they are classified as GI3.b-d.
There is only one Uganda journal in the IALS Library. This is the publication of the Law Development Centre called Uganda Law Focus: a Law Quarterly Journal of Reviews, opinions and information on the state and future development of law in Uganda. See Library Catalogue, under class mark GI3.J.1.
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Uganda Government: the national web portal
Judiciary of Uganda: the Uganda courts website
Uganda Legislature: Hansard, order papers, reports, bills, as well as other documents
Uganda Law Reform Commission: development of legislation
Researching Ugandan Law: Globalex research guide (Houser Global Law Program, New York University)
World Legal Information Institute (WorldLII) : Uganda section, providing case law and links to other websites.
Justice Law & Order Sector (JLOS): all institutions involved in the administration of justice in Uganda.
Legislation Uganda (Lexadin): Laws of Uganda, including the constitution
Law Guide on Uganda - Library of Congress: legal system and constitution