In his December 9th, 2020 letter to Mike Pompeo, the Secretary U.S. Department of State and Steven T. Mnuchin, the Secretary U.S. Department of the Treasury, Engel expresses concern over president, Yoweri Museveni’s "long track record of repressive behavior".
Seal of the United States Congress
Engel, the chairperson of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs wants several
Ugandan security officials sanctioned for human rights violations and brutalizing
They are Gen.
Peter Elwelu, the Commander of Land Forces, Maj. Gen. James Birungi, Commander
of the Special Forces Command, Maj. Gen. Don William Nabasa, former Commander
of the Special Forces Command, Maj. Gen. Abel Kandiho, the commandant of the Chieftaincy
of Military Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Steven Sabiiti Muzeyi, the Deputy Inspector
of General of Police, Frank Mwesigwa, Commissioner of Police and Col. Chris
Serunjogi Ddamulira, the Director of Crime Intelligence in the Uganda Police
December 9th, 2020 letter to Mike Pompeo, the Secretary U.S.
Department of State and Steven T. Mnuchin, the Secretary U.S. Department of the
Treasury, Engel expresses concern over president, Yoweri Museveni’s "long
track record of repressive behavior".
“More recently, this has included attacks on independent media, the banning of
political rallies and
concerts, the arrest, detention, and torture
of individuals who dare to challenge the president
or the ruling party, and a persistent lack of
accountability for the arbitrary and extrajudicial
killings and torture perpetrated by Ugandan security
forces,” reads the letter.
that for several years, the US has raised concern about the Uganda government’s
lack of respect for civil liberties of its citizens and urged government to
permit or conduct credible investigations into the human rights violations.
“However, diplomatic rhetoric alone has had little impact on President Museveni’s
behavior. Instead, he has
further consolidated power while
preventing the emergence of a viable democratic
opposition,” the letter reads.
is also the U.S. Representative for New York's 16th
congressional district, cites several incidents of rights violations and
brutality in Uganda including the killing of least 45 people by security forces
during last month’s protests against the arrest of the National Unity
Platform-NUP presidential candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu.
“In November 2016, Ugandan security
forces massacred over 100 civilians in Kasese. In September 2017, Ugandan
Special Forces forcibly entered parliament during a debate over whether to
remove presidential age limits from the constitution, which now allows
President Museveni to rule indefinitely. During the tumult, MP Betty Nambooze
suffered serious spinal injuries from which she is still recovering. In July
2018, the government imposed a tax on citizens who wished to access social media
platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter – a transparent ploy to
discourage anti-government mobilization on the part of youths and dissidents,”
Adding that, “These violent
incidents reflect a highly disturbing
trajectory for the country, thus ensuring that
the environment for general elections in January
2021 has been fundamentally tilted in favor of
an incumbent who has been in power since 1986.” Engel now wants specific
officers in the Army and Police sanctioned for their specific roles in
Engel has demanded a plan to intensify the U.S. response to human
rights abuses beyond rhetorical condemnations. He also wants accountability for
citizens who have been subjected to arbitrary arrests, torture, and
extrajudicial killings. Engel has called for the State Department to commence a review of all
non-humanitarian assistance to Uganda; commit to providing robust support to
human rights defenders and independent journalists and to building the capacity
of civil society organizations; and coordinate with like- minded allies to
issue a joint condemnation of violent repression.
“Finally, I request that you provide the Committee with the following
information in writing no later than January 9, 2021: An overview of the U.S.
government’s engagement with the Government of Uganda, opposition political
parties, and civil society organizations with respect to the 2021 elections,
and how such engagement differs from previous elections; and An assessment of
the impact that several years of violent repression and impunity for gross
human rights abuses has had on the Ugandan political environment,” Engel asks.
also wants an assessment of the risks to U.S. interests in East and Central
Africa of continuing to work by, with, and through an increasingly
authoritarian partner who has exhibited no indications of a succession plan,
and a plan to mitigate said risks over the next five years. The Ugandan
government is yet to comment on the letter.
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