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U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo

In what appears to be a strong message to security chiefs in Africa, the United States has designated Ugandan former Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura, a gross violator of human rights in his country.

The sanction is being brought against the former top cop under Section 7031(c) of the FY 2019 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act.

A statement to this effect was released by the Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo and dated September 13.

The sins of Kale Kayihura

While serving as the IGP of the Ugandan Police Force, Mr. Kayihura is said to have led the elitist Flying Squad Unit, which tortured and killed many detainees at the Nalufenya Special Investigations Center (NSIC).

Operatives of the Flying Squad reportedly used sticks and rifle butts to abuse NSIC detainees.

Ugandan media reported that after being subjected to severe torture, some detainees were offered significant sums of money when they confessed to involvement in a crime.

The former police chief is also said to have been engaged in acts of corruption, ranging from bribing top politicians to consolidate his position, stealing public funds and smuggling banned goods, including drugs, gold, and wildlife, out of Uganda.

The US hammer

But barely a year after he was sacked by President Yoweri Museveni, the US Department of State issued a statement publicly indicting the former police boss of crimes against his people.

The statement reads:

The Department is publicly designating Kale Kayihura, the former Inspector General of the Uganda Police Force and its commanding officer from 2005-2018, under Section 7031(c) of the FY 2019 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, due to his involvement in gross violations of human rights.

Specifically, the Department has credible information that Kayihura was involved in torture and/or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, through command responsibility of the Flying Squad, a specialized unit of the Uganda Police Force that reported directly to Kayihura.

The Treasury Department is concurrently designating Kayihura pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

Section 7031(c) provides that, in cases where the Secretary of State has credible information that foreign officials have been involved in significant corruption or a gross violation of human rights, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.

The law also requires the Secretary of State to publicly or privately designate such officials and their immediate family members. In addition to the public designation of Kale Kayihura, the Department is also publicly designating his spouse, Angela Umurisa Gabuka, his daughter, Tesi Uwibambe, and his son, Kale Rudahigwa.

In Executive Order 13818, the President declared a national emergency with respect to serious human rights abuses and corruption globally, which constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.

Through this E.O., the President has authorized the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of State to impose economic sanctions and visa restrictions, respectively, on persons, determined, among other things, to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights abuse or corruption.

These actions against Kale Kayihura underscore our concern with human rights violations and abuses in Uganda, as well as our support for accountability for those who engage in such violations and abuses.

We call on the Ugandan government to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly.