The US Department of Treasury announced economic sanctions against the Commissioner General of Uganda Prisons Service Dr. Johnson Byabashaija for alleged “serious” abuse of human rights of prisoners including government critics and members of Uganda’s LGBTQI+ community.
In the sanctions announced on 10th December 2023 by the Treasury’s Office of foreign assets (OFAC), Byabashaija is targeted alongside other 19 individuals from various countries including China, Russia, Indonesia, Haiti, Afghanistan, Liberia, Central African Republic and Congo (DRC) for their connection to human rights abuse in their respective countries.
“Today, OFAC designated Johnson Byabashaija (Byabashaija), Commissioner General of the Uganda Prisons Service (UPS) since 2005. During that period, members of the UPS have engaged in torture and other serious human rights abuse against prisoners held within UPS facilities. Prisoners have reported being tortured and beaten by UPS staff and by fellow prisoners at the direction of UPS staff. Members of vulnerable groups, including government critics and members of Uganda’s LGBTQI+ community, have been beaten and held without access to legal counsel; for example, in a 2020 case, the UPS denied a group of LGBTQI+ persons access to their lawyers and members of the group reportedly endured physical abuse, including a forced anal examination and scalding.
Byabashaija is being designated for being a foreign person who is or has been a leader or official of an entity, including any government entity, that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, serious human rights abuse relating to the leader’s or official’s tenure pursuant to E.O. 13818.”
The actions including Visa restrictions and freezing of assets owned by targeted individuals are taken in concert with measures imposed by it’s partners in the United Kingdom and Canada, which have similarly utilized economic measures to deter human rights abuse globally.
“As a result of today’s actions, all property and interests in property of the designated persons described above that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, individually or in the aggregate, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons.” The statement notes adding;
“In addition, financial institutions and other persons that engage in certain transactions or activities with the sanctioned entities and individuals may expose themselves to sanctions or be subject to an enforcement action. The prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any designated person, or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.”
However, the Department of the Treasury acknowledges recent attempts by the Uganda Prisons Service to implement human rights-related measures, but also notes that these measures fall short.
“Should Byabashaija implement effective measures to eliminate torture and impunity, increase independent human rights monitoring, ban forced anal examinations and other forms of abuse used to target LGBTQI+ persons and others, ensure protections for vulnerable persons and groups, and improve overall prison conditions, the Department of the Treasury will consider those to be changes of behavior that would potentially result in his removal from the SDN List.” The statement adds.
The US government imposes such sanctions building upon the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, E.O. 13818 which was issued on December 20, 2017, and in recognition that the prevalence of human rights abuse and corruption that have their source, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States, has reached such scope and gravity as to threaten the stability of international political and economic systems.
Follow this link below for details about the latest US sanctions on targeted individuals: