The United States Department of State has announced an expansion of visa restrictions on Ugandan government officials believed to be responsible for human rights violations and the repression of marginalized groups. The decision, disclosed in a press statement by US Secretary of State Mr Anthony Blinken, marks an extension of similar restrictions imposed in 2021 targeting individuals undermining Uganda’s democratic processes.
Mr Blinken emphasized that the visa restrictions now encompass current or former Ugandan officials involved in undermining democracy or implementing policies aimed at repressing vulnerable populations. The announcement reflects the US government’s growing concerns over the shrinking democratic space in Uganda.
- Targeted groups: The visa restrictions are directed at individuals linked to human rights abuses and the suppression of marginalized communities, including environmental activists, human rights defenders, journalists, LGBTQI+ persons, and civil society organizers.
- Family inclusions: Immediate family members of those affected by the travel restrictions may also face visa exclusions, as stated in the US press statement.
- Urgent call for accountability: Mr Blinken urged the Ugandan government to improve its human rights record, emphasizing the need to hold accountable those responsible for flawed electoral processes, violence, and intimidation.
- Repeated actions: This is not the first time the US has issued travel bans against Ugandan officials. Similar measures were taken in April 2021, shortly after the general elections, without specifying the individuals involved.
- Background on human rights concerns: The move comes amid ongoing concerns over human rights issues in Uganda, particularly stemming from the 2021 general elections and the subsequent crackdown on protests.
- Controversial anti-homosexuality act: The US has previously issued advisories to its citizens against Uganda, citing concerns over the Anti-Homosexuality Act implemented in May 2023. Critics, including Western allies, have labeled the law as draconian, asserting it threatens the rights of minority populations.
- Government’s response: President Museveni and Ugandan officials have consistently rejected criticism from the US and other Western allies, maintaining their position on the Anti-Homosexuality Act.
In his closing remarks, Mr Blinken reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the Ugandan people and called on the government to uphold democracy, respect human rights, and work collaboratively for the mutual benefit of both nations. The situation underscores the delicate balance between international relations and concerns over human rights in Uganda.