UC Law event to investigate acid attacks in Uganda

The Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights at Cincinnati Law will host the program “A Law Against Acid Attacks in Uganda”, at 4:30 p.m., Thurs., Feb. 8, 2024, in Rm. 235 at the College of Law. Attendees can also join via Zoom. Access information is below. The program and panel discussion will be led by members of RISE, a local nonprofit supporting acid attack survivors in Uganda and Nepal. They will discuss their advocacy work for a specific law against acid attacks in Uganda and the steps they are taking to bring a bill to the Uganda parliament.

Zoom link: Uganda Event

  • Meeting ID: 979 1233 8151
  • Password: 863758

Program participants include attorney Arnold Agaba, a 2016 graduate of Cincinnati Law’s LLM program. He is RISE’s legal advisor and a doctoral candidate at McGill University Institute of Air and Space Law; Dr. Angie Vredeveld, clinical psychologist and founder and director of RISE; and Bert Lockwood,  Distinguished Service Professor and Director of the renowned Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights, the first endowed institute at an American law school devoted to the study of international human rights.

The story behind acid violence

Acid violence or acid attacks refers to the throwing of acid on a person’s face or body with the intention of causing harm to that person.  The acid melts the flesh and causes lifelong scarring, physical disfigurement, and in some cases, permanent disability including blindness and immobility.  Many survivors spend a year or more in the hospital after their attack, undergoing extensive treatment and surgeries.

In many places acid is considered a weapon of violence. In Uganda, 84% of cases are related to conflicts in romantic relationships; 10% are related to business conflicts; 3% are related to property conflicts; and 3% are related to unknown reasons.  Unfortunately, most victims are women at a rate of 70%.

Acid is chosen as a weapon of violence in Uganda for many reasons. 1) It is inexpensive to purchase. 2) There are weak laws concerning acid attacks, few regulations on who can purchase it, and weak punishments for perpetrators. 3) There is a large supply of the chemical in Uganda. 4) The patriarchal society of Uganda leads many to dismiss the importance of strong laws surrounding this violence.  

Currently, there are no laws about acid attacks specifically. However, in 2016 the Ugandan government passed the Toxic Chemical and Prohibition Bill. This bill, though, includes all toxic chemical rather than specifically focusing on acid.

The law the RISE team is advocating be passed in Uganda will do the following:

  • Criminalize illegal acid dealings and misuse, providing for the denial of bail, stricter charges, and compensation to survivors.
  • Development and implementation of a national acid policy addressing accessibility and availability; licensing; distribution and storage; and general trading.
  • Support for the investigating agencies through increased financial resources and technical know-how to enable them to do a thorough investigation.

About the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights

Founded in 1979, the Institute was the first endowed institute at an American law school devoted to international human rights law. It continues to be a leader in legal education today by providing students with international human rights-focused courses, programs, internships, and experiential learning opportunities. Additionally, the Institute produces the best human rights academic journal in the field, the Human Rights Quarterly. Urban Morgan student Fellows serve as editors for the multidisciplinary journal published by Johns Hopkins University Press.


*Statistics provided by https://www.risecoalition.org/why-uganda-needs-a-law-against-acid-attacks/

Lead photo: istockphoto.com

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