Uganda

Arms Sold:

Additional Arms:
ASIS, ATMOS-2000, Model-839

Companies:

Additional Companies:
NICE Systems, IWI, Innocon, Soltam Systems

Skip to:

Uganda

Introduction

Israel and Uganda keep close bilateral cooperation, that includes among others agriculture, postharvest technology, water management, military and homeland security. Israel supplied Uganda with artillery, mortars, rifles, surveillance systems and the upgrade of older fighter jets. Also training of Ugandan forces by Israel was documented. Different reports show that Israeli companies sold surveillance programs to Uganda, that in some cases were used for spying after human rights defenders.

Israel – Uganda Relations

In the wake of the Entebbe Raid in 1976 – and even after the end of Idi Amin’s rule in 1979 – Israel-Ugandan relations remained low and struggled to improve. At the early 2000s however, relations have warmed as both countries have worked to resuscitate political, diplomatic and militaristic ties.

Bilateral cooperation between Uganda and Israel encompasses agriculture, postharvest technologies, animal husbandry, water management, health, military and homeland security.[1]Uganda, Israel deepen cooperation

Uganda imports from Israel were $7.17 Million during 2018, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade.[2]Uganda Imports from Israel The main goods being exported from Israel as to 2019 are in the machinery and electrical equipment sector, aircrafts and articles of iron and steel.

Military Relations

Israel-Ugandan military relations involved the supply of artillery and mortars, surveillance equipment and the upgrading of older fighter jets. In addition, Israeli defense firms have trained Ugandan security forces in both Israel and Africa.[3]Sipri : Israeli Arms Transfers to Sub-Saharan Africa

There is also visual documentation of Ugandan Armed Forces, especially of the Special Forces Command (SFC), that serves as a private and independent security force of the president Yoweri Museveni, with Tavor rifles, Galil ACE and Uzi machine guns in their hands.[4]Itay Mack : Military Export to Uganda – appeal for information

An UN report from 2015 shows that Israeli Galil rifles that were purchased by Uganda at 2007 were transferred to South-Sudan and were involved in indiscriminate killing, rape, pillaging, destruction of infrastructure and uprooting of civilians from their homes.[5]Israel’s role in South Sudan under scrutiny amid violence [6]Israel Supplies South Sudan Government With Wiretapping Equipment

In a visit to Israel in 2011 Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with talks focusing on agricultural inputs and military aid. At 2016 and 2020 Netanyahu visited Uganda and met Museveni. Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen joined the premier’s delegation.[7]Israel’s Netanyahu in 2nd official visit to Uganda Netanyahu and Museveni talked about closer cooperation in cyber security.[8]Uganda ‘studying’ opening embassy in Jerusalem, Museveni tells Netanyahu

At 2019 an Israeli Defense Ministry delegation, led by the head of IMOD’s SIBAT director, Michel Ben Baruch, met Ugandan Minister of State of Defense Charles Engola to discuss defense cooperation between the two countries.

In 2022 it was reported that Uganda acquired Hermess 900 drones from Elbit.[9]Uganda acquires Hermes 900 surveillance drone

In September 2022 Uganda and Israel signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on defense in a ceremony in Kampala, Uganda.[10]Israel-Uganda sign defence cooperation agreement amid criticism

Cyber-Security

In 2013 was reported that Israel is supplying Uganda with military equipment and support in exchange for the agreement of Uganda to receive Eritrean refugees that sought asylum in Israel. In 2017 Uganda was one of three countries Israel signed a refugee deportation agreement with, in exchange for Israeli weapons, military training and other forms of aid.[11]Did Israel Make a Refugees-for-arms Deal With Uganda? In 2018 ‘Haaretz’ published that despite likely persecution for their sexual orientation or gender identity in Uganda, Israel intended to deport LGBTIQ asylum seekers to the country.[12]Israel to Deport LGBT Asylum Seekers to Rwanda, Uganda Despite Likely Persecution

An investigation of a Buzzfeed journalist from 2015 implies that the Israeli company NICE supplied surveillance programs to Uganda, that were used to hack into phones of activists for rights of LGBTIQ in the country.[13]Are IDF intelligence vets helping Uganda hunt down LGBTs? Another investigation of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz shows that many Israeli private cyber security companies sold surveillance and intelligence programs to Uganda.[14]Israel Spy industry helps dictators around the world persecute gays and dissidents

The controversial hacking program “Pegasus” from the Israeli company NSO Group was used in Uganda too, so published in Financial Times in 2019.[15]Inside the WhatsApp hack: how an Israeli technology was used to spy

In December 2021 it was reported that Pegasus was used to hack phones of US State Department officials working on Uganda.[16]NSO spyware said used to hack phones of State Department officials working in Uganda.

In August 2022 Uganda confirmed the purchase of Israeli Cellebrite’s Phone Hacking Tech.[17]After Haaretz Report, Uganda Confirms Buying Israeli Cellebrite’s Phone-hacking Tech

In September 2022 Uganda’s and Israel’s Ministries of Defense signed a a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on defense cooperation. The MoU includes a component on border management system security. “Monitor” reported that the Israeli military will upgrade and install control systems at all of Uganda’s border points. Sources cited also surveillance spyware to be included.[18]Israel to install spy systems at Uganda borders

Usage of Israeli Arms

  • Cardom RMS, ATMOS-2000, Model-839 – in usage of Ugandan Armed Forces. May have been used in Ugandan ongoing conflict with the rebel group LRA (the Lord’s Resistance Army).[19]Sipri : Israeli Arms Transfers to Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Mig-21 combat aircraft with an Israeli upgrade – Ugandan Air Force. Were used during joint DRC-Ugandan operations in late 2008 against the LRA.[20]Sipri : Israeli Arms Transfers to Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Vulcanair P68, P92 Echo aircraft – In usage by Uganda People’s Defense Forces. Reportedly used against LRA.[21]Sipri : Israeli Arms Transfers to Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Galil ACE Rifles – Usage by Uganda People’s Defense Forces. Rifles were transferred to South-Sudan and were used in the civil war there. The rifles took part in violations of human rights and crimes against humanity.[22]Times of Israel : As South Sudan bloodies itself, Israeli arms sales questioned
  • Israeli Hacking and Surveillance program developed by NICE – Uganda uses the program to do surveillance on LGBTIQ-activists in Uganda.[23]Report : Israel’s NICE technology used in war against gays in Uganda
  • UFED – Uganda police uses UFED cloud analyzer to extract data.[24]After Haaretz Report, Uganda Confirms Buying Israeli Cellebrite’s Phone-hacking Tech

 

Human Rights Violations

The Ugandan government undermines freedom of expression and association by imposing regulations restricting online activities and stifling independent media. Arrests of political opponents and blockades of political and student rallies occurred in 2019. In 2018, 34 political opponents were tortured by security operatives in Aura, so was reported.[25]HRW World Report 2019 – Uganda

In addition, there are many reports of arbitrary detentions and prosecutions of outspoken critics, feminists, human rights defenders and LGBTIQ activists.[26]Amnesty – Uganda Report 2021 Regarding the LGBTIQ community, same-sex relations remained illegal in Uganda in 2019.[27]Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill becomes law Events and gatherings by the LGBTIQ community have been raided and stopped.[28]Uganda Police Disrupt and Shut Down Event Organised To Celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT)  In October 2019 Ugandan police arrested 16 LGBTIQ activists and subjected them to forced physical examinations. In November 2019 67 LGBTIQ people were arrested at a bar popular with the community. At least four LGBTIQ members were beaten and killed in different incidents in 2019.

In May 2021, Ugandan Parliament approved the “2021 Sexual Offenses Bill” which crimanilzes all sexual relations between people of the same gender, anal sex between people of any gender, and sex work. President Museveni later declined to sign the Bill and returned it to Parliament on August 17 for reconsideration. In May 2021, police raided a private celebration at the Happy Family Youth shelter in Wakiso District and arrested 44 people, initially accusing them of holding a same-sex wedding, then charged them with “negligent acts likely to spread infection of disease.” Police subjected 17 of the accused to forced anal examinations.[29]Uganda Events of 2021 – HRW

2022 Elections:

In 2022, president Yoweri Museveni was re-elected in January 2021 in a general election marred by widespread abuses. Security forces arbitrarily arrested and beat opposition supporters and journalists, killed protesters, and disrupted opposition rallies.[30]Uganda Events of 2021 – HRW

Shortly before the elections, the government shut down the internet for five days, and restricted access to social media sites including Twitter and YouTube for a month. The authorities indefinitely blocked access to Facebook after the network announced it had taken down a network of accounts and pages linked to the government.[31]Uganda Events of 2021 – HRW

The authorities in Uganda restricted right to freedom of movement and assembly, in particular for political opposition leaders, and violated rights to freedoms of association and expression, as security forces beat and at times arbitrarily detained journalists and opposition members.[32]Uganda Events of 2021 – HRW

References
1 Uganda, Israel deepen cooperation
2 Uganda Imports from Israel
3 Sipri : Israeli Arms Transfers to Sub-Saharan Africa
4 Itay Mack : Military Export to Uganda – appeal for information
5 Israel’s role in South Sudan under scrutiny amid violence
6 Israel Supplies South Sudan Government With Wiretapping Equipment
7 Israel’s Netanyahu in 2nd official visit to Uganda
8 Uganda ‘studying’ opening embassy in Jerusalem, Museveni tells Netanyahu
9 Uganda acquires Hermes 900 surveillance drone
10 Israel-Uganda sign defence cooperation agreement amid criticism
11 Did Israel Make a Refugees-for-arms Deal With Uganda?
12 Israel to Deport LGBT Asylum Seekers to Rwanda, Uganda Despite Likely Persecution
13 Are IDF intelligence vets helping Uganda hunt down LGBTs?
14 Israel Spy industry helps dictators around the world persecute gays and dissidents
15 Inside the WhatsApp hack: how an Israeli technology was used to spy
16 NSO spyware said used to hack phones of State Department officials working in Uganda
17 After Haaretz Report, Uganda Confirms Buying Israeli Cellebrite’s Phone-hacking Tech
18 Israel to install spy systems at Uganda borders
19 Sipri : Israeli Arms Transfers to Sub-Saharan Africa
20 Sipri : Israeli Arms Transfers to Sub-Saharan Africa
21 Sipri : Israeli Arms Transfers to Sub-Saharan Africa
22 Times of Israel : As South Sudan bloodies itself, Israeli arms sales questioned
23 Report : Israel’s NICE technology used in war against gays in Uganda
24 After Haaretz Report, Uganda Confirms Buying Israeli Cellebrite’s Phone-hacking Tech
25 HRW World Report 2019 – Uganda
26 Amnesty – Uganda Report 2021
27 Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill becomes law
28 Uganda Police Disrupt and Shut Down Event Organised To Celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT)
29 Uganda Events of 2021 – HRW
30 Uganda Events of 2021 – HRW
31 Uganda Events of 2021 – HRW
32 Uganda Events of 2021 – HRW