Updated: March 5, 2021
The Trump administration has chronicled severe human rights violations taking place in the African country of Uganda, a constitutional republic led since 1986 by President Yoweri Museveni of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party.
Human rights issues in Uganda include the “criminalization of same-sex consensual sexual conduct; and security force harassment and detention of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons,” the United States said in its 2018 human rights reports on Uganda.
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Museveni, who seems to have turned himself into a President for life while accusing his opponents of conspiracy and criminality was re-elected in 2016 to a fifth five-year term in an election the U.S. report noted “fell short of international standards and marred by allegations of disenfranchisement and voter intimidation, harassment of the opposition, closure of social media websites, and lack of transparency and independence in the Electoral Commission (EC)”.
“The periods before, during, and after the elections were marked by a closing of political space, intimidation of journalists, and widespread use of torture by the security agencies,” the U.S. government said.
The Trump administration said human rights issues last year also included “unlawful or arbitrary killings; forced disappearance; torture; arbitrary detention; political prisoners; violence and intimidation against journalists”.
There were also “censorship, criminalization of libel, and restricted access to the internet; substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association and restrictions on political participation; corruption”.
The government, the U.S. noted, was reluctant to investigate, prosecute, or punish officials who committed human rights violations, whether in the security services or elsewhere in government.
So brutal and desperate was the Museveni government last year that on August 13, the presidential guard Special Forces Command (SFC) shot and killed Member of Parliament (MP) Robert Kyagulanyi’s (alias Bobi Wine) driver,Yasin Kawuma, while he was seated in Kyagulanyi’s car.
According to local media, between February 2017 and September, the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) killed at least nine men whom it accused of illegal fishing.
On January 22, local media reported that the UPDF’s Marine Patrol Unit beat, shot, and drowned unarmed civilians it suspected of illegal fishing practices.
Fishing communities told local media that UPDF soldiers tied weights to the legs of the fishermen and threw them into the lake.
The UPDF’s head of marine operations James Nuwagaba claimed that UPDF soldiers only used force to defend themselves against those fishermen who fled imminent arrest and used their oars to attack soldiers.
In an April 14 statement, President Museveni, instead of standing for the fishing community, “although the UPDF personnel had been accused of some excesses, such as beating people, the lake had been saved. Those who spend time blaming the army for some mistakes should know that the first mistake was bad fishing.”
The killings in Uganda last year by security forces were widespread. Local civil society organizations (CSOs) and local media reported that on March 25, UPDF personnel shot and killed unarmed civilian Python Okello, a resident of Apaa village in Adjumani district.
There several other instances of gross rights violations and killings by security forces that were never investigated or prosecuted by the government, the report released in Washington D.C. said.