The United Kingdom (UK) government through its Global Human Rights regime has imposed sanctions on former Police chief Gen Edward Kale Kayihura for allegedly superintending over human rights violations including torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment while he was still at the helm of Uganda Police Force.
“General Kale Kayihura, the Inspector General of Police in Uganda from 2005 to 2018. While Kayihura was in charge, he oversaw multiple units responsible for human rights violations including torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment,”reads part of the December 9, 2022 statement issued by UK’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.
According to Cleverly, the new wave of sanctions targets corrupt actors, and those violating and abusing human rights, as well as perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict.
The new wave, co-ordinated with UK’s international partners, were announced as the world marked International Anti-Corruption Day and Human Rights Day.
The package includes individuals and entities involved in a wide range of grievous activities – including the torture of prisoners, the mobilisation of troops to rape civilians, and systematic atrocities.
“It is our duty to promote free and open societies around the world. Today our sanctions go further to expose those behind the heinous violations of our most fundamental rights to account. We are committed to using every lever at our disposal to secure a future of freedom over fear. Since gaining new powers following our exit from the EU, the Foreign, commonwealth and Development Office has used targeted sanctions across multiple regimes to hold those committing these egregious acts, whether in Russia, Iran, Myanmar, or elsewhere, to account,” Mr Cleverly said.
According to him, the UK has designated eight individuals under theur Global Human Rights regime, which allows it (the UK) to stop those involved in serious human rights abuses and violations from entering the country, channelling money through UK banks, or profiting from our economy.
Gen Kayihura was sanctioned alongside Mian Abdul Haq, a Muslim Cleric from Pakistan, responsible for forced conversions and marriages of girls and women from religious minorities; Sadrach Zelodon Rocha and Yohaira Hernandez Chirino, the mayor and deputy mayor of Matagalpa in Nicaragua. The two are said to be involved in promoting and supporting grievous violations of human rights.
The UK also sanctioned Andrey Tishenin, member of the Russian Federal Security Service in Crimea, and Artur Shambazov, a senior detective in the Autonomous republic of Crimea. The pair tortured Ukrainian Oleksandr Kostenko in 2015.
On the list of sanction sis also Valentin Oparin, Major of Justice for the Russian Federation, and Oleg Tkachenko, Head of Public Prosecutions for the Rostov region. Both are accused of obstructing complaints of torture, with Tkachenko also using torture to extract testimony.
The UK sanctions come three years after the United States government through its treasury department imposed sanctions Gen Kayihura for reportedly engaging in corruption and human rights abuses.
The US government on September 13, 2019 claimed that Kayihura directly supervised the torture of prisoners at the Nalufenya Police Special investigations facility in Jinja.
“As the IGP for the UPF, 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,” the US said in a September 13, 2019 statement.
General Kale Kayihura was Uganda’s Inspector General of Police for nearly 13 years, making his tenure the longest in the Police force’s history.
Gen Kayihura was fired by President Yoweri Museveni in March 2018 and later arrested.
He was then arraigned in the military court-martial on several charges.
He was once seen as one of the most powerful military officers in the country before falling out of favour with the President.
Mr Museveni blamed the police for failing to curb rising insecurity in the country including murders and kidnappings. After sacking Gen Kayihura and the Minister of Security Henry Tumukunde, the president said he had “uprooted the bean weevil that had infiltrated the police force.”
During his tenure, Gen Kayihura was accused, mostly by human rights watchdogs, of militarizing the police and heavy-handedness in dealing with anti-government protests.
Several of his allies, including senior police officers, have been arrested for alleged illegal arrests, kidnap and repatriation of Rwandan refugees.
The police force has also seen a raft of leadership changes since then.