7 Security Bosses in Uganda risk US sanctions over Brutality

US warns authorities in Uganda over brutality of security agencies; File Photo

The United States of America says it is closely paying attention to the actions of individuals who seek to impede the democratic processes in Uganda in the run-up to the 2021 elections.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said that the United States expects its partners to live up to their obligations to hold free and fair elections.

Pompeo’s statement was prompted by congressman and chairman of the Foreign Affairs committee Eliot L. Engel who wrote to him and the secretary US department of treasury Steven T. Mnuchin, calling for sanctions against seven Ugandan military and police officers for allegedly brutalizing and torturing Ugandans.

Pompeo says that they are paying close attention to the actions of individuals who interfere with the democratic process and will not hesitate to consider serious consequences for those responsible for election-related violence and repression.

The letter referred to the death of more than 50 people during last month’s riots and subsequent incidents that reflect a bad human right record for Uganda.

The seven security officials listed for sanctions include the UPDF commander of Land Forces Gen. Peter Elwelu, commander of Special Forces Command (SFC) Maj. Gen. James Birungi, former commander of SFC, Maj. Gen. Don William Nabasa, the commandant of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence -Maj. Gen. Abel Kandiho, the deputy Inspector of General of Police -Maj. Gen. Steven Sabiiti Muzeyi, the commissioner of police -Frank Mwesigwa and Col. Chris Serunjogi Ddamulira, the director of Crime Intelligence in the Uganda Police Force.

Although no sanctions have yet been announced on the said Ugandan officials, Pompeo announced the sanctioning of 17 governments officials and their spouses from China, El Salvador and Jamaica among others for human rights violation.

He has also called upon the Ugandan government to create a safe environment for civil society and non-governmental organizations to undertake election training and monitoring.

“Repeated violence and excessive use of force by security forces are deeply troubling. We urge the government to ensure the safety of all candidates, respect the right of peaceful assembly of all Ugandans, and ensure that election authorities and security forces act impartially.” Pompeo says

Government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo says that they have not received official communication from the USA in regards to the proposal to sanction the officers. Opondo blames the move to sanction the officers on some people’s intention to tarnish Uganda’s image. Former IGP Gen Kale Kayihura is among those already sanctioned for violating human rights by the USA. He was sanctioned in 2019.



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