Uganda’s ex-police chief Kayihura slams US over sanctions

Sunday September 15 2019

Gen Kale Kayihura in the dock

Uganda's former police chief Kale Kayihura appears at the military court in Kampala, Uganda, on August 24, 2018, on charges of neglect of duty and abuse of office. PHOTO | ISAAC KASAMANI | AFP 

DAILY MONITOR
By DAILY MONITOR
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The EastAfrican
By The EastAfrican
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Uganda’s former Inspector General of Police General Kale Kayihura has slammed the US for sanctioning him on allegations of corruption and human rights abuse.

He denies the allegations and says they are meant to defame him.

The US last Friday announced sanctions against Kayihura, with the Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker releasing a statement saying: "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 com-mitted serious human rights abuses.”

The US said it would freeze his and his family’s assets in the United States, and banned him and his family from travelling to the country.

DENIES ALLEGATIONS

However, in a statement, Kayihura said the allegations were false and intended to tarnish his image. He said the US was now faulting the units that were under his command, but he had worked closely with the US Federal Bureau of Investigations.

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"The fact is that the FBI worked closely with me and with units of police that were involved in fighting crime, including the Flying Squad. They were not scandalised by my leadership but actually gave me an award for my contribution in the fight against terror. There is no high profile case in which our units did not liaise with the FBI. They participated in, for example, the investigations into the assassinations of the late Joan Kagezi and the late Andrew Felix Kaweesi, as well as the 2010 terror case. The Treasury would thus do well to sanction those officers also," Gen Kayihura said.

He added that he and his family have no intention to travel US and he does not own any property outside Uganda.

"These allegations fit the now discredited narrative, which has been perpetrated by intriguers in Uganda since I left the Uganda Police Force. Their objective was to falsely criminalise me and accuse me of all sorts of crimes in order to malign me and destroy my public persona," he said.

HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES

A report by the Human Rights Watch early this year accused Kayihura of running detention and interrogation centres across the country, but mostly in the capital Kampala, from where suspects were forced into confessions.

The US government says Kayihura is culpable for authoring the feared Flying Squad Unit to detain and torture detained at the Nalufenya Special Investigations Center (NSIC) near Jinja Bridge in Jinja where suspects were beaten and then offered money to confess.

“Flying Squad Unit members reportedly used sticks and rifle butts to abuse NSIC detainees, and officers at NSIC are accused of having beaten one of the detainees with blunt instruments to the point that he lost consciousness.”

Routinely guarded by members of the Uganda People’s Defence Force, the centre was often off limits to the public and had at one time fenced with iron sheets.

It was later shut by Kayihura's successor John Martin Okoth Ochola following a public outcry.

Kayihura, 62, was the Inspector-General of Police between 2005 and March 2018 when he was sacked by President Museveni. He was arrested in June the same year on a raft of charges, which he has denied.

He is currently out of prison on bail.

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