The US government has slapped sanctions against four Ugandans including two judges and two lawyers for being involved a child adoption scam.
According to the US government’s Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, the four Ugandans are judges Moses Mukiibi and Wilson Musalu Musene together with lawyers Dorah Mirembe and her associate Patrick Ecobu.
“They participated in a scam whereby young children were removed from their families and placed into a corrupt adoption network, aided by the facilitation of Ugandan officials. The U.S. government designated these four individuals pursuant to Executive Order 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. The Department of State also designated Mukiibi and Musene under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2020 (Div. G, P.L. 116-94) due to their involvement in significant corruption,” Pompeo said in a statement released on Monday afternoon.
The scam according to the US government saw Mirembe’s law firm use services of intermediaries to seek out vulnerable families in remote Ugandan villages after promising parents that their children would be moved to Kampala for further education.
Consequently, American prospective adoptive parents would then travel to Uganda to adopt children from an unlicensed children’s home in Kampala.
“Mirembe, with the assistance of Ecobu, facilitated bribes to Ugandan judges and other Ugandan government officials to fraudulently procure adoption cases, either directly or through an interlocutor. Mirembe paid bribes to get cases steered to judges Mukiibi and Musene. Mukiibi and Musene are current or former government officials who have, directly or indirectly, engaged in corruption,” the US government said.
Trump’s government explained that once the Secretary of State designates officials of foreign government for their involvement directly or indirectly in significant corruption, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States under Section 7031(c) of the American Constitution.
“Today’s actions demonstrate the United States’ commitment to protecting the dignity of every human being and protecting the United States from those who seek to profit at the expense of others,” Pompeo said.
“These individuals’ actions also resulted in the submission of false documentation to the Department of State for consideration in visa adjudication, a falsification the Department will not tolerate.”
Apart from being denied entry into the US, the sanction also mean that Trump administration would seize all properties wholly or partially owned by the said individuals in case they are on American soil or found in control of US persons.
Last year, the same sanctions were issued against former Inspector General of Police Gen Kale Kayihura and his immediate family members over corruption and human rights abuse.
“We are targeting Uganda’s former police inspector general Kale Kayihura for using corruption and bribery to strengthen his political position, as units under his command committed serious human rights abuses,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence in September 2019.