Stephen Doughty, Shadow Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and International Development, who has raised the issues in Uganda several times, has once again asked the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs “what representations the UK High Commissioner has made to the Government of Uganda on alleged disappearances of and attacks on opposition activists and journalists in Uganda.“
James Duddridge (Minister for Africa) replied on 22nd April 2021:
“The UK Government is very concerned about the treatment of opposition candidates and their supporters in the run-up to and since the Ugandan elections. We are particularly disturbed by continued reports of people who are missing or arbitrarily detained. This does not provide for an open political landscape within which democracy can flourish and Uganda can prosper.
“Our High Commissioner in Kampala has repeatedly raised concerns about opposition supporters going missing or being arbitrarily detained directly with the Ugandan authorities. I also raised this in my call with the Ugandan Foreign Minister, Sam Kutsea, on 21 April. We have pressed publicly and privately for information on missing persons to be released and due process to be followed. We welcome the [Uganda] Minister for Internal Affairs’ recent update to Parliament regarding those currently in detention, but now need to see all those in detention released or charged. As a long-standing partner to Uganda, the UK will continue to press for the rights of all Ugandans to be upheld.”
Although this is a welcome shift in the UK Government’s attitude to Museveni and the ongoing human rights abuses in Uganda, words alone (albeit words “urging” and “pressing” the Uganda Government) will not have any effect unless they are backed up with appropriate sanctions. At least Duddridge is now accepting and admitting that the human rights abuses are continuing and were not just in the run-up to and at the time of the Presidential election on 14th January 2021 which has always been the UK’s response until now.
So our letter-writing is perhaps having an impact after all! We need to keep up the pressure on the UK (and other Western governments) to take the next step of imposing significant and appropriate sanctions which will hurt Museveni and his government and changing the way our Aid is given so that it is not used (directly or indirectly) to support Museveni and his security forces and government. If any of you have the time, energy and motivation, you might like to write to your MPs saying that although we welcome in the shift in attitude towards the Ugandan Government, this needs to be followed by action in these suggested ways.
We also need to put pressure on the United Nations Human Rights Council to take significant action which it has so far failed to do. It is disappointing that people are no longer signing the PETITION to the UN. If everyone reading this post could get at least ONE MORE PERSON to SIGN and SHARE the petition, we would reach 2,000 signatories. The petition needs a boost – how can you help?