US sanctions Uganda's ex-police chief Kayihura for rights abuses

Friday September 13 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 

AGGREY MUTAMBO
By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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The US Treasury on Friday announced sanctions on Uganda’s former Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura, for alleged role in gross violations of human rights and corruption.

"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,” Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence said in a statement.

Gen Kayihura,whose full name is Edward Kalekezi Kayihura Muhwezi, is under house arrest in Uganda for committing crimes against the state.

He was the Inspector-General of Police between 2005 and March 2018 where he was controversially replaced and then detained in June last year.

The US Treasury added that Gen Kayihura he had been a leader or official of an entity “that has engaged in or whose members have engaged in serious human rights abuse against Ugandan citizens, as well as for his involvement in corruption.”

Kayihura, already barred from traveling to the US, will also not be able to access any assets he owns in the US either directly or through proxies.

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“As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of Kayihura, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 per cent or more by him alone or with other designated persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons, are blocked and must be reported to OFAC.”
OFAC’s regulations also prohibit any US citizen or a person in the US from transacting on assets linked to Kayihura, meaning he won’t be able to remove those properties from within the jurisdiction of the US.

For 13 years, Kayihura was always the face of the police, authorising detention of political adversaries, clamping down on protesters as well as barring right to assembly.

A report by the Human Rights Watch early this year accused him for 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.

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