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US senior officials want security officers held accountable for human rights violations

Leader of the Opposition Mathias Mpuuga shares some publications with US Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, Lisa Peterson.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The United States Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, Lisa Peterson has called upon the government of Uganda to punish any security officer who is found guilty of abusing human rights.

Speaking to a select group of journalists in Kampala, Peterson said it’s not enough for the government officials to state that they don’t condone abuses that include torture, forced disappearance and even extrajudicial killings, but should punish any errant officers found guilty of the same.

This way, Peterson said, they will have sent a message to others that human rights abuse is unacceptable.

Peterson who has been on a two-day visit to Uganda held meetings with the government, opposition leaders, civil society and media leaders. The visit comes amidst reports that supporters of the opposition political parties have been brutalized, arrested on trumped up charges, while others have disappeared without a trace before, during and after the 2021 general elections,

She said her coming to Uganda is to send a message that human rights violations and the narrowing democratic space are a concern to the Biden administration.

Asked whether the United States has any moral authority to claim to be exporting democracy to other countries around the world when in its own backyard, there is a considerable number of people who believe the country is undemocratic, Peterson said they recognise that they are not perfect that’s why it is important to work with other countries to ensure that real democracy takes root.

Natalie Brown, the US ambassador to Uganda deflated claims that US resources are being used by the government to persecute political opponents. After today’s meeting with the US officials, Robert Kyagulanyi, the President of NUP and Mathias Mpuuga, the Leader of Opposition reiterated their call for the US to stop funding the Ugandan government arguing that this will show real commitment towards democracy.

But Brown said most of the resources that the US invests in Uganda go directly to the Ugandan people through implementing agencies. She said other than their cooperation on the African Peace Keeping Mission in Somalia, there is little money that the US puts in the Ugandan military.

Brown added that the United States will continue to monitor human rights violations in Uganda and engage all stakeholders to see that this stop.

Government officials including the president have condemned acts of torture and said those to be found guilty will pay the price. However, more than one year later, no such accountability has been made save for the two UPDF officers who received lengthy sentences for their complicit in the November 2020 killings.

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