By Uganda Online Media
Kampala: The Chairperson of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Robert Menendez has petitioned President Joe Biden asking him to withdraw an invitation to President Museveni ahead of the 2022 US-Africa Leaders’ summit over the violation of human rights in Uganda.
According to the letter dated March 28, 2022, Menendez also wants first son who also doubles as the Commander of the Land Forces in the UPDF, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba sanctioned by the US for his alleged participation in the torture of novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaijja.
In his letter, Menendez insists that Museveni has long relied on torture, violence, and illegal detention to punish his critics and stamp down dissent citing the 2021 general elections where he claims opposition candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu was tortured and illegally detained alongside other party members and leaders.
He also demands that president Biden publically sanctions senior Ugandan officials implicated in corruption or gross violation of human rights and provide a list of detention facilities used for illegal detention and torture.
According to Menendez, no person has been held for the crimes committed, and no conclusive reports has been made for the 2016 Kasese killing that leftover 100 people dead, November 2020 riots where over 50 people were killed for protesting against the arrest of National Unity Platform (NUP’s) Robert Kyagulanyi during the course of his election campaign.
Menendez also quotes Kakwenza’s Twitter revelations where the novelist insists, he was tortured by the Commander of Land Forces Muhoozi Kainerugaba.
“According to Mr. Rukirabashaijja, Lt Gen Muhoozi personally participated in at least one interrogation session. No one, however, has been held accountable for these crimes, or for numerous instances of other security force abuses such as the 2016 Kasese massacre in which more than 100 men, women, children were killed or the 2020 killing of the 54 civilians protesting the arrest of Mr. Kyagulanyi during the course of his election campaign,” Menendez states.
The UPDF Land Forces Commander recently said he is doesn’t know who Kakwenza is.
Menendez also argues that President Museveni has twice changed the constitution to remain in power, impeded democratic processes, turned a blind to rampant corruption subjected civil society, and political leaders to illegal detention, violence, and torture with impunity.
“Despite this troubling track record, Uganda remains one of the top recipients of US foreign aid and security assistance. While the US has issued statements and expressions of concern after human rights violations come to light, such statements are insufficient. Personally targeted sanctions would have a greater impact,” Menendez added.
Menendez further noted that Uganda has been an important, if not critical, security and counter-terrorism partner to the United States for more than a decade, playing a prominent role in the African Union’s Mission to Somalia and hosting over 1.4 million refugees.
But, he said, that Uganda is now going through troubling times, and long-standing efforts to advance its democracy is now in peril that the United States administration cannot continue keeping silent without reviewing the importance of its relations.
“Mr. President, if the outcome of the elections in Uganda does not reflect the will of the people, I will be calling for the Biden administration to re-evaluate our relationship with the Museveni administration. Uganda’s stature and importance as a security partner should not prevent the United States from speaking out in support of democracy, and taking action in support of those Ugandans fighting for democratic freedoms,” he said in a statement for the Senate record on safeguarding democracy in Uganda.