By Andrew Irumba
The United Sates Government have announced sanctions against Uganda’s once-powerful police chief Gen. Kale Kayihura, citing evidence of corruption and human rights abuses including torture.
The US said, there was credible information that Kale Kayihura was involved in “torture and or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Washington said he had responsibility for the notorious
“Flying Squad,” a specialist unit of the Uganda Police Force and supervised the torture of
prisoners at the Nalufenya Police Special investigations facility in Jinja
where officials said reported directly to Kayihura.
“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.”
Kayihura, 62, was sacked by President Yoweri Museveni in March 2018 and arrested in June, but denied a raft of charges.
The measures by the US Treasury and State Departments will freeze any assets held by Kayihura in or passing through US territory or by American firms, and deny visas to him and his family.
Sigal Mandelker, Treasury top official focusing on terrorism and corruption, accused Kayihura of “using corruption and bribery to strengthen his political position, as units under his command committed serious human rights abuses.”
“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,” he said.
Kayihura was once viewed as among the most powerful men in Uganda, acting on the direct orders of Museveni, alongside whom he had fought during the rebel war which brought him to power in 1986.
Since his appointment as police chief in 2005, Kayihura oversaw what many critics viewed as the politicization of the police force into an institution loyal to the president.
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.