Immigration laws and the protection of asylum seekers’ rights in Uganda: A Critique.

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School of law
The focus of this study was on the Domestic Laws and the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Asylum Seekers with a special attention on the Immigration Laws of Uganda. The Study was guided by three research questions: What legal criteria are used in determining refugees in Uganda? What rights, do refugees enjoy while in Uganda? What role does the immigration Directorate play in promoting refugee rights? Using a doctrinal method which essentially relies on secondary sources, the researcher studied UNHCR Global Reports, international refugee instruments, regional instruments and Ugandan legislations on immigration laws and refugee rights. Asylum seekers were found to enjoy equal treatment to that given to aliens legally in the country. Secondly, an applicant for refugee status is required to write a formal application for refugee status to the Refugee Eligibility Committee (REC) within ninety (90) days after the date of his / her entry. REC is enjoined to consider the application within 90 days from the date of the receipt of the application. Whichever decision the REC makes in the application, the commissioner for refugees is enjoined to inform the applicant in writing of the decision within 90 days from the date of the decision. In case of a rejection, the applicant is informed of the reasons of rejection. Where an applicant is aggrieved with the decision of the REC, he / she has the right of appeal to the Appeals Board within 30 days from the date of receipt of the notice of the decision of the REC. The Appeals Board may confirm the decision of the REC, set aside the decision of the REC and refer the matter back to the REC for reconsideration and decision, order a re-hearing of the application or dismiss the appeal. The decision of the Appeals Board is final. Lastly, the study found that whereas the asylum seekers are aliens, they are a special category of aliens whose entry, residence and control is provided for in another Act, the Refugee Act, 2006. Thus in the Control of immigration and of aliens generally, the Uganda Citizenship and Immigration Control Act ought to be read and enforced in cross-reference with the Refugee Act. In conclusion, the researcher found out that Uganda has taken huge steps forward towards the acceptable rules of best practice in handling asylum seekers and refugees. In order to adequately improve management of matters of asylum seekers in Uganda, the researcher recommends that the Refugee Act 2006 be translated into several vernacular languages and widely circulated and disseminated.
A dissertation submitted to the college of higher degrees and research in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of the Degree of Master of Laws (public international law) of Kampala International University Kampala
Immigration laws, Protection, Asylum seekers’, Rights, A Critique.