American lawyer implores President Trump to reconsider US ties with Uganda over rights abuse

By Charles Kamya Ssentamu

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Robert Amsterdam.

Robert Amsterdam, an international lawyer hired by Ugandan opposition politician Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi, has written to US President Donald Trump over the gross human rights abuse by Ugandan security forces at the behest of President Museveni.

In a lengthy letter, Amsterdam accuses the Museveni government of using military aid from the US to terrorize civilians and suppress political dissent.
In the letter dated April 25, 2019, Amsterdam said that US military support has only helped Museveni to suppress the rule of law in the country.

“A lasting peace in this troubled region of Africa can only be achieved through the free politics of a true democracy – something President Museveni will do anything to prevent,” reads part of the letter.

He added that the United States and other Western donors should condition their aid – military and non-milirary – to Uganda holding free and fair elections.

Powerful network

In the letter, the attorney said that much as elections are held in Uganda and the country has courts and newspapers, “these function at the mercy of a powerful network of security organs that are instrumentalized to rig votes.”

This network overrides the decisions of judges and elected officials, arrest journalists and close NGOs that criticize the Museveni administration, he says.

“These illegal actions fly in the face of Uganda’s constitution and its guarantees of freedom of assembly, association, peaceful demonstrations, and the right to participate in the affairs of government,” Mr. Amsterdam wrote.

The latest letter by the prominent lawyer comes after a recent incident where Kyagulanyi, who also happens to be a musician, was violently arrested after police cancelled his show on short notice.

The incident, Amsterdam says, prompted him to write the letter.

Kyagulanyi, who in the music business goes by the name Bobi Wine, had initially been cleared to hold his Easter Monday show but on the day of the concert police suddenly informed him that the show would not go on.

Hundreds of millions of shillings had already been pumped into the preparation for the show.

Not the peace messiah

Meanwhile, in the letter, the lawyer attacked Museveni’s much-touted credentials as a generous ruler who is receptive of refugees fleeing from conflict in neighbouring countries.

Giving an example of South Sudan, Amsterdam said that Museveni has instead fuelled conflict in the neighbouring country.

“Recently, it has emerged that since the fighting began, the Ugandan military has been illegally funnelling weapons and other military hardware donated by the European Union and the US government into South Sudan,” the letter reads in part.

It continues that Museveni’s officials have looted millions of dollars donated by the international community for refugee programmes.

Besides South Sudan, Museveni has been on the spot for fanning violence in other neighbouring countries like Rwanda, where he has given members of a terror group with intentions to harm Rwanda, unfettered access to Uganda’s security infrastructure to conduct their activities.

This has been confirmed by the United Nations Group of Experts Report that came out in December last year.

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