The Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa has finally responded to the Chairperson of the US House of representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs Elliot Engel who demanded that several Ugandan senior security officers be sanctioned for violating human rights of Ugandans.
Kutesa made his reply through a letter dated 21st December, in which he also copied in the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of the Treasury US Department of Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin and all members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the US House of Representatives. Kutesa alluded that all the allegations that were highlighted by Engel were not true and are biased. He said Uganda is a sovereign nation that follows it’s constitution efficiently.
On alleged attacks on independent media as it was highlighted in Engel’s plea, Kuteesa said that Uganda has over 310 privately-owned radio station and 48 television, 56 licensed online publishers and many newspapers with national coverage and they are free to express their views with liberties. However, he noted that they must operate in under laws so that they don’t invade other peoples’ freedom.
“It is also important to note that under section 25 of the Computer Misuse Act 2011 makes it an offence for any person to willfully and repeatedly use electronic communication to disturb or attempt to disturb the peace, quiet or right of privacy of another person with no purpose of legitimate communication. Therefore, it is erroneous to suggest that any actions that been taken by concerned authorities in Uganda pursuant to this provision are illegal or politically motivated. This is simply a matter of law enforcement and the guilt or innocence of a suspect can only be declared by Ugandan courts with the constitution of the Republic of Uganda,” the Minister said.
On the allegations that whoever dares to challenge President Yoweri Museveni or the ruling party is arrested, detained or tortured, Kutesa disclosed it’s not true since the government of Uganda is well-known on operating on democratic principles that empower and encourages the active participation of all citizens at all levels in their own governance.
He said that all citizens of Uganda have access to leadership positions at all levels.
“Accordingly, the incumbent is participating in the general elections as a matter of right, and like any of the other 10 candidates. It’s important to note that all law-abiding presidential candidates have been, and are, campaigning across the country without any hindrances, with the exception of those who have deliberately violated the law and the Standard Operating Procedures and have openly declared their refusal to abide by the law.”
On the issues of persistent lack of accountability for the arbitrary and extrajudicial killings and torture perpetrated by Ugandan Security forces, he said that the foundation and basis of the historical struggle of the people of Uganda was to protect their lives and property of Uganda and Government is still committed to this. “Extrajudicial killings and torture by security forces goes against this ethos and is therefore harshly punished whenever it happens,” he said.
Other issues he explained was the killing of 45 people by the Ugandan security forces following the protests on 18th November 2020.
He said; “It is also worth noting that the use of teargas and water cannons is an internationally accepted method of non-lethal management of the public order. Loss of innocent Ugandans, therefore, happened in the context of extreme lawlessness and criminality characterized by attacks on both civilians and security personnel with lethal weapons following the arrest of Hon Kyagulanyi.”
As a way of defending the government officials against such sanctions, Kutesa promised Pompeo and Eliot Engel that the current government in Uganda will remain committed to good governance in the country following the Constitution and Supreme law of the land.
“Please accept Mr Chairman the assurances of my highest consideration.”
Kutesa’s reply follows a letter written two weeks back by Engel to Pompeo calling for Trump administration to invoke the Magnitsky Act to punish General Peter Elwelu, the Commander of Land Forces, General James Birungi, the former Commander of the presidential protection force and General Abel Kandiho, the head of military intelligence. Others are the former Deputy Inspector General of Police Steven Sabiiti Muzeyi and Colonel Chris Serunjogi Ddamulira, the head of crime intelligence in the police force.
In his tweet, Pompeo replied to Engel’s demand with promise that close attention was going to be applied to Uganda to see if there is any kind of human right violation.
“The United States is a longstanding partner of Uganda. We expect our partners to live up to their obligations to hold free and fair elections. We are paying close attention to the actions of individuals who seek to impede the ongoing democratic process,” said Mike Pompeo, the Secretary U.S. Department of State in a tweet.
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