The former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Gen Kale Kayihura is Saturday expected to issue a statement on the United States government’s decision to slap sanctions on him for his alleged role in serious human rights abuse and corruption.
Kale Kayihura, a former blue-eyed boy and military assistant of president Museveni served as police chief from 2005 to March 2018 when he was relieved of his duties.
He was put under military detention before being charged in the military court for the alleged forceful repatriation of Rwandan refugees.
A former NRA bush war combatant and intelligence officer, Kayihura, as IGP, played a key role in countering opposition forces which had in the last decade threatened his hold onto power.
He came under intense criticism for alleged human rights abuses including frequent arrest of opposition figures, suppression of political assemblies and a spike in urban crime.
Many saw Kayihura’s fall from grace as a strategic decision to detach the ruling government from his alleged transgressions.
But Kayihura, a UK-trained lawyer, maintained his innocence, telling ChimpReports he was a victim of the infighting and intrigue in security circles.
In 2018, Kayihura told us that “even if they mud at me; it will never stick because I am clean.”
By the time Kayihura was fired alongside Security Minister Gen Henry Tumukunde, President Museveni had grown impatient with police’s failure to combat crime and the institution’s endemic corruption.
It remains to be seen how Kayihura will counter the sanctions which limit travel of his family to United States.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said it sanctioned Kayihura pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, for “having 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.”
This action, according to the U.S. government, complements the Department of State’s concurrent implementation of a visa ban for Kayihura under section 7031(c) of the Fiscal Year 2019 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act (P .L. 116-6) due “to Kayihura’s involvement in gross violations of human rights.”
The U.S. government said as the IGP, Kayihura led individuals from the UPF’s Flying Squad Unit, “which has engaged in the inhumane treatment of detainees at the Nalufenya Special Investigations Center (NSIC). 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. Detainees also reported that after being subjected to the abuse they were offered significant sums of money if they confessed to their involvement in a crime.”
In addition, read the sanctions, “Kayihura has engaged in numerous acts of corruption, including using bribery to strengthen his political position within the Government of Uganda, stealing funds intended for official Ugandan government business, and using another government employee to smuggle illicit goods, including drugs, gold, and wildlife, out of Uganda.”
Close associates of Kayihura said he was taken aback by the sanctions as he routinely worked with United States security organs in investigating, detaining and interrogating high profile investigations including terrorism.
“Gen Kayihura was shocked but he is going to say something today,” said a close ally of the General who is now engaged in commercial farming.
The U.S. treasury’s action means all property and interests in property of Kayihura, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by him alone or with other designated persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, are blocked and must be reported to OFAC.
OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons.
Can Kayihura’s sanctions be terminated?
Observers say intense diplomacy could see the sanctions dropped.
According to Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act of 2016, there is an appeals process for persons added to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN).
Either the President, in this case Donald Trump, or the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, may decide to terminate sanctions.
While the Trump administration is always swift in taking action, it has on several occasions agreed to make concessions.
For example Trump has expressed willingness to hold talks with Iran whose economy is on the brink of collapse due to U.S. sanctions.
Trump also agreed to meet with North Korea Kim Jong-un despite threatening to take military action against the country.
Despite imposing tariffs on China goods worth billions of dollars, Trump has welcomed talks aimed at ending the trade war with Beijing.
Most importantly, the Trump administration could have taken action against Kayihura to warn Ugandan security heads of tough times ahead and also embolden the opposition to take on Museveni without fear ahead of the 2021 elections.
Several United States politicians have since publicly thrown their weight behind politician Bobi Wine ahead of the next presidential elections.
The Global Magnitsky Act provides that sanctions may be terminated “if credible information exists that the person did not engage in the activity for which sanctions were imposed.”
The second ground of termination is if “the person has been prosecuted appropriately for the activity for which sanctions were imposed; or the person has credibly demonstrated a significant change in behavior, has paid an appropriate consequence for the activity for which sanctions were imposed, and has credibly committed to not engage in serious human rights abuse and corruption in the future.
The Act also provides that sanctions can be removed “if the termination is in the national security interests of the United States.”