By Muhire Johnson
Finally, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has on Monday congratulated the President-Elect of Uganda Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Kaguta Museveni on his re-election four month after a bloody election, which left dozens of people killed, bruised while others still rotting in prisons whereas many opposition candidates were placed under de facto house arrest could campaign freely in that regard.
“I would like to congratulate you on your reelection as President of the Republic of Uganda,” Ms. Merkel wrote.
She added: Your new term in office is an opportunity to continue advancing the democratic and economic development of your country and strengthening the rule of law in the interests of all Ugandans”.
She said Germany remains a willing partner to Uganda.
On 11 February 2021, the European Parliament adopted three resolutions on human rights situations in Uganda, Rwanda, and Kazakhstan.
Notably, for Uganda, it called for sanctions against individuals and entities responsible for human rights violations.
This EU parliament resolution is premised on the new EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime (EUGHRSR), which was adopted by the Council of the European Union (EU Council) on 7 December 2020. This followed a proposal by the European Commission and the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell. Lawyers regard this as a significant development due to its exterritoriality.
The sanctions regime comprises three distinct measures- prohibitions against listed individuals entering into or transiting through the region, funding to listed individuals or entities, and freezing of funds and assets. This new human rights regime is similar to the United States Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and UK’s Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020.
Human rights situation in Uganda
Uganda has had a turbulent post-independence history since 1962,with civil wars, political instability and authoritarian rule characterised by gross human rights violations like torture, enforced disappearances and murders.
On 16 January 2021, Yoweri Museveni was re-elected as president of Uganda for a sixth term. His closest rival Robert Kyagulanyi and other opposition candidates rejected the results, alleging fraud and other human rights violations by the state during the electoral process. Human rights observers also noted the use of the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext for state orchestrated repression.
The EU has been actively engaged with both the opposition and government, while condemning the human rights abuses committed by state agents during the electoral process.
The resolution by the EU Parliament is targeted towards individuals and organizations responsible for human rights violations in Uganda. It also triggers reflections on the effectiveness of sanctions beyond the human rights regime.