Gov’t accuses EU of partisanship in response to rights violations

The Ugandan government has asked the European Union (EU) Parliament to respect the country’s sovereignty and ensure non-interference if relations between the two is to be sustained.

The EU Parliament last week adopted 19 resolutions taking the stock of human rights violations in Uganda in the period before, during and after the recent elections. In the resolutions was a call for justice for Ugandans who died in the November 2020 riots, and a call for sanctions against individuals and organizations responsible for human rights violations in Uganda.

The Parliament also called for scrutiny of Uganda’s fiscal management and transparency and systematic reviews of the EU budget support programs, and asked the government to stop using COVID-19 enforcement to violate rights and freedoms of its opponents. Also adopted is a recommendation to ensure freedom of the press, to secure unrestricted internet access, and ensure the unconditional release of all those arrested and detained for ‘protesting peacefully,’ among others.

Now in a 10-page letter dated February 15, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa has written to the President of the European Parliament, indicating that they were undermining Ugandan institutions and sovereignty of the country.

Kutesa who responded to all the allegations one at a time indicated that Uganda and EU historical and strong relationship will depend on the upholding of the universally accepted principles of mutual respect, non-interference and sovereignty.

 “This statement is clearly partisan in tone and intent. We see this as an attempt to undermine and challenge the Electoral Commission and its work”, Kutesa says.

He says the statement is a mockery to the rule of law which the European Union stands for, and an attempt to influence the outcome of the ongoing court process. 

On election violence, Kutesa responded that Presidential candidates Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu of the National Unity Platform (NUP) and Patrick Oboi Amuriat of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) chose to defy all the standard operating procedures set by the Ministry of health and that is why they were arrested.

“The Government is on record as stating that the incidents of November 2020 were regrettable and will continue to be investigated with a view to determining conclusively if and where operational mistakes were made by individual security personnel thereby unlawfully causing death in particular cases” he says.  

He says Government will compensate those who loved ones died innocently in the shootings.  

He indicated that Uganda achieved a historic milestone in holding a peaceful election amidst COVID-19 and he is, therefore, “quite frankly concerned how the EU Parliament in its resolution downplays the threat of COVID-19 pandemic in Uganda”

He says campaigns in some parts of the country were suspended for all the candidates and this was not a pretext to restrict the opposition.

On media freedoms, the foreign minister indicated that Uganda understands the importance of the media and thus licensed several. However, according to Kuteesa, many have started broadcasting hate speech and calling for people to protest in the streets.

Protesting is a constitutional right according to Chapter 4 of the constitution of the republic of Uganda.

On missing persons and kidnaps, he indicated that missing persons are being looked for while all those arrested will be prosecuted.  

Kutesa says Uganda is concerned from both a political view and a health view about the timing of the resolution at a time when the world is battling COVID-19. He says the Government of Uganda is committed to ensure domestic tranquility, the security and welfare of its citizens.    

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