Who is next on sanctions list?
Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The most significant aspects of the sanctions the American government has placed on former Inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura are two; the timing and their broadness.
The timing of the American announcement is important; just 16 months to the 2021 general elections.
On this point, the sanctions statement by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompei said the actions against Kayihura underscore America’s concern with human rights violations and abuses in Uganda. It pledged America’s support for accountability for those who engage in such violations and abuses. “We call on the Ugandan government to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly,” the statement said.
According to many commentators, the American demands on freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly will be difficult for the Ugandan government to allow in 2021. Special attention will be on the police force, the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, the Internal Security Agencies, the Local Defence Units, RDCs and overzealous politicians. To this group, the Americans are saying “we will be watching”.
Based on this, many commentators who have heard similar noises and seen similar actions from the Americans in almost all previous elections have been asking a single question: Apart from barking threats, what is America prepared to do this time?
That might explain why the American sanctions against Kayihura are so broad and severe; they target his family also and extend beyond travel restriction and warn any individual or business not to do any business with Kayihura.
America will not give Kayihura or any member of his close family a visa. According to several international law experts The Independent has spoken to, the American sanctions are designed to ensure that Kayihura and any members of his close family do not travel anywhere. They cannot fly on a plane operated by a company that does business with America or bank in a bank that does business with America. The legal experts say the Kayihura name is now flagged with a red alert internationally.
That Kayihura’s name is now listed together with notorious Ugandan names like Joseph Kony, commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels and his son Kony Salim Saleh and commanders Lokweny Okot.
The list also has notorious names like Jamil Mukulu, the jailed head of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels and their commanders like Junju Abdullah aka Steven Alilabaki and Hussein Muhammad aka David Kyagulanyi.
The list also has names of companies like Machanga Ltd which has links to mineral trade in the DR Congo and is connected to Paul Malong, a powerful South Sudanese. Another listed company is Uganda Commercial Impex said to operate in the Karamoja area but with offices on Kanjokya Street in Kampala.
In addition to the public designation of Kale Kayihura, the Department has also publicly designated his spouse, Angela Umurisa Gabuka, his daughter, Tesi Uwibambe, and his son, Kale Rudahigwa in connection to the alleged “significant corruption or a gross violation of human rights”. For the young Kayihuras, the designation is a potential career stopper. No foreign university or organisation will want to be associated with them for fear of reprisal from the Americans.
Kayihura’s alleged crimes
The Americans are doing all this because, they say, they have credible information that Kayihura, who headed police from 2005-2018, was involved in torture and/or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. They say Kayihura committed the crimes through command responsibility of the Flying Squad; a specialised unit of the Uganda Police Force that reported directly to him.
The charges are that, as the IGP for the UPF, Kayihura led individuals from the UPF’s Flying Squad Unit, which engaged in the inhumane treatment of detainees at the Nalufenya Special Investigations Center (NSIC).
The statement says: Flying Squad Unit members reportedly used sticks and rifle butts to abuse NSIC detainees and officers at NSIC are accused of having beaten one of the detainees with blunt instruments to the point that he lost consciousness. Detainees also reported that after being subjected to the abuse they were offered significant sums of money if they confessed to their involvement in a crime.