Uganda

Defending Widows and Orphans

For a family living in poverty, a house and a small patch of land provide a crucial source of shelter, food and income. But in Uganda, when a man dies, it is common for neighbors, relatives and other community members to steal the home and property from his widow and orphans – a devastating crime commonly known as property grabbing.

Not only does property grabbing leave victims homeless, destitute and extremely vulnerable to other forms of abuse, it’s a violent crime. In an IJM study, nearly 1 out of 5 victims of property grabbing reported that the theft of their property involved a murder attempt on his or her life, and nearly 1 out of every 3 had threats of violence made against their children by perpetrators.

We are standing with widows and orphans in two of the areas hardest-hit by this crime.

What We Do

RESCUE VICTIMS

We work with Local Council leaders (the community-level representative of the justice system), police and the court system to restore widows and orphans to the homes that have been stolen from them.

BRING CRIMINALS TO JUSTICE

We work with police and prosecutors to bring criminal cases against perpetrators—especially in cases of violence, intimidation or fraud.

RESTORE SURVIVORS

We provide counseling, ensure that children can go to school, and partner with local aftercare providers to help women begin income-generating projects, so they can rebuild their lives from a place of strength.

STRENGTHEN JUSTICE SYSTEMS

We are working with the Ugandan Police Force, local leaders, Administrator General’s office, and the Ugandan Court system to dramatically improve the justice system response to property grabbing.

Our Progress

  • We have restored more than 1100 widows and orphans to their homes since 2008. Meet one of them »

  • We have secured convictions of more than 30 perpetrators of property grabbing – a powerful sign in a country where perpetrators of this crime have virtually never been brought to justice.

  • We have trained 337 police, nearly 2,000 local authorities, and nearly 4,000 community members to combat property grabbing since 2012 – and now IJM-trained police and Local Counsel Leaders are training and educating thousands of communities members about property grabbing and the proper channels for reporting the crime.

  • Through IJM’s support, Uganda's police force has deployed a specialized team of investigators with the resources, training and mandate to respond to property grabbing crimes, for the first time in its history. Learn more »

  • In partnership with the Ugandan Judiciary, we launched two model court houses, operationalizing an electronic case administration system, organizing more than 100,000 court records, installing and operationalizing a stenographic recording system, and developing workflow improvements to enhance efficiency. Learn More »

Our Teams in Uganda

KAMPALA, UGANDA

ESTABLISHED 2002

Focus

PROPERTY GRABBING

Field office director

Kathryn Wilkes

Factsheet

IJM Kampala

GULU, UGANDA

ESTABLISHED 2012

Focus

PROPERTY GRABBING

Field office director

Will Lathrop

Factsheet

IJM Gulu

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