US imposes sanctions on Ugandan CMI boss for torturing gov’t critics

US imposes sanctions on Ugandan CMI boss for torturing gov’t critics
Maj Gen Abel Kandiho, the commander of Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI)

Kampala, Uganda | URN | Maj Gen Abel Kandiho, the commander of Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), has been personally involved in the abduction and torture of government critics. This is according to the United States Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

Gen Abel Kandiho was on Tuesday 7, December 2021 designated by OFAC as a person who has been involved in numerous human rights violations and as a result, he is banned from travelling or conducting business in the United States of America (U.S.A).

U.S. indicates that Gen Abel Kandiho as a commander of CMI and his subordinates have arrested, detained, and physically abused persons in Uganda. The victims, according to the U.S., were targeted by CMI due to their nationality, political views, or critique of the Ugandan government.

“During these incarcerations, victims were kept in solitary confinement and unable to contact friends, family, or legal support. In some cases, Gen Kandiho was personally involved, leading interrogations of detained individuals,” OFAC statement reads in part.

CMI and sister security agencies have for a while been accused of abducting people on political grounds and subjecting them to inhumane treatment for months without trial.

The victims are often detained at CMI headquarters in Mbuya or Special Investigations Division (SID) Kireka without the knowledge of their relatives and lawyers.

Before January 14 presidential elections, several supporters of the National Unity Platform (NUP) were abducted using numberless Toyota Hiace drones.

Although many people who were abducted were later charged in the General Court Martial after several months of being held incommunicado, the whereabouts of among others, Mike Semudu who was grabbed from Masanafu in Lubaga and John Damulira, who was picked from Kisekka market have remained a mystery.

“Individuals were taken into custody and held, often without legal proceedings, at CMI detention facilities where they were subjected to horrific beatings and other egregious acts by CMI officials, including sexual abuse and electrocutions, often resulting in significant long-term injury and even death,” OFAC statement further reads.

The abductions became rampant after the November 18th and 19th riots that followed the arrest of then-presidential candidate Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine. In response, security shot and killed 54 people to contain the rioters.

Read Also: US Congress calls for sanctions against Ugandan senior security officials over human rights abuses

In January this year, the late Deputy Inspector General of Police Maj Gen Paul Lokech gave police’s Crime Intelligence Director Brig Chris Damulira and CID Director AIGP Grace Akullo, 48 hours to avail names of all people who had been apprehended by security forces. At the time Lokech issued a two days ultimatum, the media had over 50 names of people who had been reported by relatives to have been abducted by CMI and JATT using Drones.

Some of the abductees included Elias Musagala, Shafick Zibula, Kabiswa, Kavuma, Mike Semudu Hassan Mubiru, Sylvester Kalulu, Male Musa, Kajimu Musa, Muhamad Kanata, Isma Serunkuma, Kiwanuka Sula, Mukasa Jjuko, Kyakuwa Joseph, Ntule Stephen and Kabanda Disan.

Although in some incidents like the shooting of professional boxer Isaac Ssenyange aka Zebra Mando, President Yoweri Museveni confirmed that it was security personnel responsible for the murder, no one has ever been arrested or charged.

Police’s CCTV monitoring team captured vans used by operatives dressed in JATT uniform surrounding St Francis zone in Bwaise II where Zebra Mando was shot on December 30. Despite police availing the CCTV footage, CMI and JATT did not apprehend their officers.

UPDF spokesperson, Brig Flavia Byekwaso on Tuesday issued a statement confirming that OFAC has notified them of Gen Kandiho interdiction, but described the move as unfair since he was not accorded a fair hearing.

Security analyst Fred Egesa, describes the sanctions as intended to send a warning to an individual but also a deterrent to others that they are being monitored in their capacity. Egesa says such sanctions become a burden to a person because everyone wants to be free to move anywhere at any time.