The Ugandan government has rapped their counterparts from the US over their recent report on the human rights situation in the country.
In the report title 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Uganda’ (“the report”) that was released on 30th March 2021 by the State Department of the United States of America, the US government accused Uganda of gross human rights abuses.
However, in response to the report, the Ugandan government has said the same contained several distortions and misinformation.
According to government’s response, it imposed a lockdown to curb the spread of Coronavirus and that the just concluded elections were held under standard operating procedures that ought to be adhered to by everyone.
“To ensure that the country responded adequately and mitigated the impact of the pandemic, government, through the Ministry of Health, developed guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs) to align and standardize its response to prevent and curb the spread of the pandemic. These SOPs applied to all the people in the country irrespective of one’s gender, status, pursuits, etc. Despite the regrettable fatalities, Uganda is proud of its record in preventing deaths and limiting the spread of the pandemic,” government said.
Government says that its primary duty is to its citizens and that it could not compromise the health and security of its citizens amid the deadly pandemic and consequently had to do everything within its means to protect them.
“Key among the restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the disease was the regulation of crowds at rallies to not exceed 200 people. All these parameters were signed into law and agreed on by all political contenders as the bare minimum for proceeding with the elections.”
“ Some of the players, especially Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi of National Unity Platform (NUP) and Mr. Patrick Amuriat of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) turned against this and publically declared that they would defy the measures and as it turned out they violated all the regulations in a display of impunity. They all addressed rallies in crowded market places, in the middle of highways, defying the national electoral laws, clearly promoting lawlessness.”
Government says it is wrong for their US counterparts to rely on media reports on the alleged violation of rights of politicians that government says were breaking the law but on the other side crying foul for being asked to respect the law.
“Therefore, for the report to focus on media reports on the alleged violations of the rights of the law breakers, while ignoring their responsibility, is wrong; and is an unfortunate display of an attitude that the lives of the wider citizenry matters less than the rights of the law breakers.”
In its report, the US government accused government of violating its citizens’ rights by allowing kidnaps and disappearance of people, especially Robert Kyagulanyi’s supporters before, during and after the January 14 polls.
However, in response, government said it is wrong to term arrests by security agencies as kidnaps and forced disappearances.
We, therefore, take exception to the characterization of ordinary security arrests in this report as “kidnaps and forced disappearances”. It is important to underline that anyone suspected of wrongdoing in Uganda is guaranteed due process. Any government worth its name deals with insurgencies, insurrections, mobs and riots first by downgrading the organizers’ capacity to destroy public facilities and secondly, to stop rioters from killing and maiming lives, as the planned and orchestrated riots of November 18 and 19, 2020 in Uganda were.”
Government cited the January 6, 2021 attacks on the US Capitol building where 350 attackers were termed as insurrectionists by the US government noting that these had no difference with “mobs and looters that held Kampala hostage” during the November 18 and 19 protests.
“According to the same media reports, at the inauguration of President Joseph Biden recently, the security forces deployed around Washington and its precincts numbered over 21,000 people. These were troops and agencies of all manner and training and one assumes they were deployed to ward off any potential rioting and looting in Washington City. Why should the authors assume Uganda should do less when dealing with its own potential sources of insecurity and protecting the lives and property of her citizens?”
Government has also taken a swipe at their US counterparts over their report on stifling freedom of expression, freedom of worship, freedom to participate in the electoral process, status of refugees in Uganda and many other issues raised in the report saying all is misinformed.
“The report raises a number of concerns and allegations that are of concern to the Government. This is because it contains several distortions; a lot of hearsay and generalizations and, at the very least, it is a blatant display of limited knowledge about the reality on the ground in Uganda,” government said in its response.
Government however says that whereas it values the partnership it has with their US counterparts and is committed to further strengthening it, there is need for mutual respect and respect for each other’s sovereignty.
“The government strongly believes that the sustenance of the relationship depends on the upholding of the universally accepted principles of mutual respect, non-interference and respect for sovereignty.”
This is the latest on the fallout between the West and Museveni’s government.
The response also comes a few days after the US government slapped visa restrictions to unnamed Ugandan officials over human rights violations in the just concluded 2021 polls.
In response, Uganda said it wont lose sleep over the sanctions.
Whereas the West accuses the Ugandan government of human rights violations and clamping down on opposition politicians, the West is accused of interfering in the affairs of a sovereign country.
The Ugandan government has always accused the West of having vested selfish interests in the country’s affairs but the West on the other side denies the same, saying they are only concerned about the human rights of people.