The Gov’t yields to pressure as it backtraces on Kayihura woes

Almost a week after the Trump administration slapped sanctions on the former Inspector General of Police, Government has broken its silence on the issue that has proved to be a major news staple since.

According to a statement released on Friday by the US Department of Treasury, Kayihura is accused of having been a leader or official of a Police force that has engaged in or whose members have engaged in gross human rights abuse against Ugandan citizens.

As a result, Kayihura and his immediate family members will henceforth not be issued with United States visas and will have their properties which he fully owns, or partly owns with others in the US or in the control of US persons blocked over corruption, human rights abuses and bribery.

Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda yesterday told Parliament that an inter-ministerial meeting is scheduled for next week to explore a viable response.

“It is true that the American government has taken measures against Gen. Kale. These measures are being studied by Government,” Rugunda said, adding: “Next week, a meeting involving the ministries of defense, security, internal affairs, and the Attorney General will take place to help the government address the issue from a more informed position.”

Rugunda’s response came in the wake of concerns about the Government’s conspicuous silence on the matter raised by Francis Mwijukye (Buhweju County MP) on Wednesday. Mwijukye had wondered how Kayihura, Uganda’s longest-serving Police chief, routinely feted as “a good cadre”, could be facing the wrath of the American government while the Government he served stridently kept silent.

“Is it not an indictment on part of government or its human rights record? Kayihura worked under orders,” Mwijukye said.

On Wednesday, the state minister for finance in charge of planning, David Bahati, told the House that the Prime Minister, who was not in the House at the time, will give a statement on the issue of Kayihura’s woes.

As Rugunda was about to complete fielding questions from lawmakers during the Prime Minister’s Question Time, Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga reminded Rugunda about Bahati’s promise to the House on Kayihura’s woes.

Since the US imposed the biting sanctions on him, Kayihura has stridently defended the Police’s human rights record during his tenure. Errant officers who were found to have flouted citizens’ fundamental rights, according to Kayihura, were punished.

He has also accused the American government of flouting the basic legal principles of natural justice by acting on what he has since described as “fabrications aimed at destroying his persona” without, according to him, the right to be heard.

On the issue of Nalufenya which his detractors claim was a smoking gun that proved torture by the Police he headed, Kayihura in a subsequent radio interview with Bukedde FM said the facility was used by a combination of security agencies.

It was, therefore, unfair, according to him, to level all the mischief that could have taken place at the facility on the Police. Kayihura was sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, 2012 which bestowed universal jurisdiction on American courts over issues relating to gross human rights abuse.

Since his sacking in April 2018, Kayihura has faced choppy waters, spending some time in detention before taking a low profile at his Kashagama farm in Rakai district.