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French Ambassador: We cannot trade human rights for business

Speaker Anitah Among meets the Chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the French Parliament  Olivier Cadic. He was accompanied by French Ambasssador Aniambossou. PHOTO PARLIAMENT MEDIA
Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | France has not shied away from the human rights abuses in Uganda, the French Ambassador to Uganda, Jules-Armand Aniambossou has told Opposition Members of Parliament. He disclosed this while meeting the Leader of Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga and a section of opposition legislators at parliament on Monday.

He was accompanied by his deputy, Jean Francois Hasperue and Olivier Cadic, a Senator and Chairperson of the French Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs. During the meeting, Mpuuga and the opposition legislators questioned the ambassador on France’s position in regard to human rights and democracy in Uganda.

“We have heard a lot of commentary from Europe on what is going on in Uganda. We are yet as the Opposition in Parliament to pick the views of our French partners on matters regarding human rights in this country and how the French people think of what we regard as a blatant abuse of human rights in this country,” said Mpuuga.

He added that the Opposition in Parliament was keen to pick views from the French Ambassador about the issue and other areas.

Asuman Basalirwa, the Bugiri Municipality MP pointed out the French military cooperation with the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) questioning whether it is an issue of concern to France that the army is cited in cases of human rights abuse.

Muwada Nkunyingi, the Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister wondered whether France is more concerned about its economic interests in the country.

In his response, the Ambassador said that they are fully aware of the situation in Uganda and have programs on human rights funded by the French government.

“Sometimes, what I discuss with the President remains between him as President of Uganda and me, as the representative of my president here. Sometimes we do not share the same view, but our best way to explain our stand about human rights and democracy is under the European Union team,” said Aniambossou.

He noted that are not shying away from human rights abuses, adding that the issue is not about making statements every day.

Aniambossou also said that it was wrong for anyone to think that the French Embassy is silent about the rights abuses in order to protect its interests in Uganda.

“Democracy, human rights and good governance are all core values of France and France could not be if we ignore these key values,” the ambassador said. He explained that they cannot trade human rights for their businesses in the country.

Mpuuga said that they are interested in cultivating a culture of democracy and respect for human rights. A new report by the US State department titled “2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in Uganda” implicated the UPDF, Police and other security agencies of arbitrary arrests, torture, forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.

The report blames the government for being reluctant to investigate and prosecute officials involved in human rights abuses both in the security services or elsewhere. However, the UPDF has in the recent past noted that the reported cases of indiscipline by its officers are investigated and the perpetrators punished when found guilty.


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