The US government has announced an expansion of it’s Visa restriction policy for Uganda, to include travel sanctions on former government officials and family members of individuals involved in “undermining the democratic process” in the country.
In a statement issued on December 05, 2023 by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, the additional travel sanctions also targets accomplices in human rights violations including family members of individuals behind the policies policies or actions aimed at repressing civil society actors, journalists and marginalized groups like homosexuals.
“Today, I am announcing the expansion of the visa restriction policy to include current or former Ugandan officials or others who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Uganda or for policies or actions aimed at repressing members of marginalized or vulnerable populations. These groups include, but are not limited to, environmental activists, human rights defenders, journalists, LGBTQI+ persons, and civil society organizers. The immediate family members of such persons may also be subject to these restrictions.” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stated.
“After Uganda’s flawed 2021 presidential elections, I announced a visa restriction policy targeting those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Uganda. At that time, I implored the Government of Uganda to significantly improve its record and hold accountable those responsible for flawed electoral processes, violence, and intimidation.” Blinken notes.
The statement published on the department website notes that this visa restriction policy is pursuant to Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and expands upon the policy Secretary Blinken approved in 2021.
The announcement comes amid uncertainty over the political situation in the country, as Ugandans prepare for general elections due for January 2026. A largely youthful opposition is set to contest for power against an entrenched National Resistance Movement party which has been in power for 37 years.
The current contention in the country’s national assembly is about human rights violations by the state including allegations of kidnap and murder by state agencies. On it’s side, the US government points to the Anti-Homosexuality Act which was recently adopted in Uganda, claiming it will further facilitate violations of rights.
“The United States stands by the Ugandan people and remains committed to working together to advance democracy, human rights, public health, and mutual prosperity. I once again strongly encourage the Government of Uganda to make concerted efforts to uphold democracy and to respect and protect human rights so that we may sustain the decades-long partnership between our countries that has benefited Americans and Ugandans alike.” Blinken said.