Uganda on Wednesday scoffed at a proposal by the European Parliament to sanction government officials over alleged human rights violations during the country’s Jan. 14 general elections.
Sam Kutesa, minister of foreign affairs, said in a letter to the head of the European Parliament that the resolution is in many aspects both surprising and of utmost concern. The European Parliament last Thursday said sanctions against individuals and organizations responsible for human rights violations in Uganda must be adopted under the new human rights sanction mechanism of the European Union (EU).
“On the threat of sanctions, referred to in the resolution, the government of Uganda views the threat as regrettable, unwanted and an unwelcome and barely disguised attempt to intimidate officials entrusted with ensuring the security and wellbeing of all Ugandans into shirking from their responsibility,” Kutesa said in the Feb. 15 letter. “While we are aware that it is the prerogative of the EU member countries to determine who travels to their respective territories or does business thereon, we do not think that sanctions would be a helpful gesture or measure and it is our hope that those advocating it will reconsider their stance,” read the letter published Wednesday.
Kutesa said government officials will remain steadfast in carrying out their constitutional roles despite the threats. President Yoweri Museveni last Saturday slammed the sanction proposal. “Well, personally I need a lot of persuasion to leave Uganda. Why would I want to leave Uganda? I normally do it for friendship,” Museveni said.
The European Parliament resolution condemned the violence, continued harassment and systematic crackdown faced by political opposition leaders in the country. The EU law-making body demanded that all those arrested and detained for participating in peaceful political assemblies or for exercising their right to freedom of expression and association must be released immediately and unconditionally and have their charges dropped. Museveni, who has been in power for 34 years, won the Jan. 14 elections, garnering 58.64 percent of the vote.