Uganda: U.S. to Probe Use of Security Aid to Stifle Freedoms in Uganda

The United States Congress is launching an investigation into the actions of the Ugandan government that imply an abuse of US security assistance to commit human rights violations, including killings, in the wake of the November protests that left scores dead.

On December 10, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement — prompted by a letter from Eliot L. Engel, who chairs Congress’ Committee on Foreign Affairs — on the violence and human rights abuses ahead of next year’s presidential election in Uganda, and possible sanctions on a number of military and police officers.

But Uganda government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo said Mr Engel’s letter is inconsequential as the lawmaker does not represent any of the institutions through which Uganda deals with the US government, namely the State Department, which ought to have raised these issues with foreign affairs minister and the presidency.

“We are paying close attention to the actions of individuals who interfere in the democratic process and will not hesitate to consider serious consequences for those responsible for election-related violence and repression.

“The United States reiterates its call for a free, fair, credible and peaceful election in Uganda. Repeated violence and excessive use of force by security forces are deeply troubling,” reads part of Secretary Pompeo’s statement.

The chief US diplomat added that while measures taken to reduce the spread of Covid-19 are imperative, they must not be used as justification for repression and violence.

In a strongly worded December 9 letter, Representative Engel said the US government should stop “rhetorical condemnations” and work with Ugandan nationals and local non-governmental organisations to “secure accountability for citizens who have been subjected to arbitrary arrests, torture and extrajudicial killings.”

Those put on notice include Lt Gen. Peter Elwelu, Commander of Land Forces, Maj Gen James Birungi, Commander of the Special Forces Command, Maj Gen Don William Nabasa, former Commander of the Special Forces Command, Maj Gen Abel Kandiho, Chief of Military Intelligence, Maj Gen Steven Sabiiti Muzeyi, Deputy Inspector of General of Police, Frank Mwesigwa, Commissioner of Police, and Col Chris Serunjogi Ddamulira, Director of Crime Intelligence.


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