Washington, (DC): The United States (US) Government has imposed fresh visa restrictions on Ugandans, particularly government officials who are believed to be behind the human rights violations and repression of marginalised groups in the country.
A press statement issued on Monday, December 04, 2023, by the US Secretary of State, Mr Anthony Blinken indicated that the fresh visa restriction policy is an expansion of the 2021 similar restrictions targeting those undermining the democratic process in Uganda.
Mr Bliken explained that after Uganda’s flawed 2021 presidential elections, the US announced a visa restriction policy targeting those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Uganda.
However, at that time, he says they (US) implored the Government of Uganda to significantly improve its record and hold accountable those responsible for flawed electoral processes, violence, and intimidation.
“Today, I am announcing the expansion of the visa restriction policy to include current or former Ugandan officials or others who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Uganda or for policies or actions aimed at repressing members of marginalised or vulnerable populations,” Mr Blinken said.
The marginalized groups listed include, but are not limited to, environmental activists, human rights defenders, journalists, LGBTQI+ persons, and civil society organizers.
The statement also indicated that the restrictions may extend to the immediate family members of such officials, whose names were not listed.
“The United States stands by the Ugandan people and remains committed to working together to advance democracy, human rights, public health, and mutual prosperity. I once again strongly encourage the Government of Uganda to make concerted efforts to uphold democracy and to respect and protect human rights so that we may sustain the decades-long partnership between our countries that has benefited Americans and Ugandans alike,” Mr Blinken emphasised.
This visa restriction policy according to the US statement is pursuant to Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and expands upon the policy Secretary Blinken approved in 2021.
This is not the first time for the US to issue travel bans against a targeted group of Ugandan officials over undermining democratic processes in the country.
For example, in April 2021, shortly after the 2021 general elections, without naming the said officials, the US issued similar travel bans on those who were said to be behind the gross human atrocities committed during the election periods.
Several flaws marred the last general election but the situation escalated in November 2020 when at least 54 people were shot dead by security forces during the protests that erupted in Kampala and other parts of the country when the leading opposition candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine was arrested on November 18, 2020 as he campaigned in Luuka District.
Equally, the US has in the recent past issued several travel and business advisories to its citizens against Uganda, particularly due to the stricter May 2023, Anti-Homosexuality Act which prohibits any acts of homosexuality in the country.
The Western allies, especially the US, have since described the law as ‘draconian’ which undermines and threatens the rights of the minority populations in the country.
However, President Museveni and several government officials have always slammed the US and other Western allies for the previous travel bans, vowing not to rescind the government’s position on the anti-Homosexual law.
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