The United States sanctioned five current and former Ugandan officials on Thursday for their involvement in corrupt practices and human rights violations, making the individuals ineligible for entry into the US.

Speaker of Parliament Anita Among, former Minister of Karamoja Affairs Mary Goretti Kitutu, former Minister of State for Karamoja Affairs Agnes Nandutu, and Minister of State for Finance Amos Lugolobi were sanctioned for “significant corruption,” with the US Department of State claiming the four individuals “abused their public positions for their personal benefit at the expense of Ugandans.” The department additionally sanctioned the spouses of Among, Kitutu, and Lugolobi.

Former Deputy Chief of the Ugandan Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) Peter Elwelu was the only military leader sanctioned. Elwelu was designated for his “gross violations of human rights” due to his involvement in a 2016 attack that killed over 100 people.

The department stated:

“The United States stands with Ugandans advocating for democratic principles, a government that delivers for all its citizens, and accountability for actions committed by those who abuse their position … Today’s actions reaffirm the U.S. commitment to support transparency in Uganda’s democratic processes, counter corruption globally, and address the broader culture of impunity that prevents all Ugandans from enjoying their human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

The designations were made under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2024. The UK imposed similar sanctions on Among, Kitutu, and Nandutu last month, implementing travel bans and asset freezes against the three individuals.

Among called the US sanctions “politically motivated,” claiming she was being targeted for her anti-homosexuality stance and her involvement in Uganda’s anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. In April, Uganda’s Constitutional Court upheld a law that imposes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality.” The legislation, known as the Anti-Homosexuality Act, was signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni last May. Among defended the law at the time, stating, “[W]e have heeded the concerns [of] our people and legislated to protect the sanctity of the family.” The law has been cited in multiple reports as a violation of human rights threatening the global rule of law.

Activists have pointed out other violations of Ugandans’ rights in recent years, including Human Rights Watch claiming in November that the country’s surveillance system threatens individuals’ constitutional rights to privacy, expression, and association. Critics of the government also noted that activists and opposition leaders are consistently harassed and threatened for expressing anti-government views. In January, for example, opposition leader Bobi Wine was placed under house arrest ahead of anti-government protests.

Wine, who is the president of the National Unity Platform (NUP), celebrated Thursday’s sanctions. He stated:

“We welcome these sanctions and appreciate the Government of the United States for listening to the cry of the oppressed people of Uganda. It has been our call to the civilised world not to keep a blind eye to the impunity perpetuated by the Museveni regime. We hope more individuals and organizations responsible for the suffering of our people will be sanctioned.”

Human rights violations in Uganda continue to be a significant concern, with ongoing reports of government oppression, harassment of activists, and restrictions on freedoms. These sanctions are part of a broader effort to address these issues and promote accountability.


Leave a Comment