This report has been updated with additional research by Kharon.
The U.S. imposed sanctions and a visa ban on Kale Kayihura, the former inspector general of police in Uganda for his involvement in human rights abuses and corruption.
Kayihura’s tenure as inspector general of police was defined by corruption, kidnappings and murders in the capital, Kampala, as well as other parts of the country. President Yoweri Museveni fired Kayihura on March 4, 2018, as part of a larger shakeup of the security forces. He was arrested on June 13, 2018. Kayihura faces charges in Uganda’s military court; he’s out on bail.
As the inspector general, Kayihura led individuals of the Flying Squad Unit from the Ugandan Police Force (UPF), members of which used sticks and rifle butts to abuse detainees at the Nalufenya Special Investigations Center, according to the Treasury Department.
Officers at the investigations center are accused of beating one of the detainees with blunt instruments to the point that he went unconscious, the Treasury said. Detainees at the center also reported that they were offered significant sums of money after they were subjected to the abuse — if they confessed to their involvement in a crime, according to the Treasury.
"The U.S. government is committed to leveraging our human rights and corruption authorities to target, disrupt, and counter those who engage in abuse and corruption around the world," said Treasury Under Secretary Sigal Mandelker.
Kayihura was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department under the Global Magnitsky Act, which authorizes designations for human-rights abuses and corruption. In addition, the State Department banned him, as well as immediate family members, from entering the U.S.
The U.S. claims are “baseless, unverified and outrageous,” Kayihura said over the weekend, according to a Ugandan media report. “The fact is that the FBI worked closely with me and with units of policer that were involved in fighting crime, including the Flying Squad. They were not scandalized by my leadership but actually gave me an award for contribution in the fight against terror,” he was quoted as saying.
Kayihura engaged in bribery to strengthen his political position within the Ugandan government, stealing state assets and using another government employee to smuggle goods, including drugs, gold and wildlife, out of the country, according to the Treasury.
Kayihura was part of a meeting in Kampala with senior leaders of the Congolese militant group Mouvement Du 23 Mars (M23), according to a November 2012 report by the United Nations Panel of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. M23 was sanctioned in January 2013 and the Treasury has sanctioned several of its leaders. Kayihura also took part in a June 2013 visit of North Korean officials to a Ugandan police training school, according to a media report; Ri Chong Sol, a North Korean official who was sanctioned in 2016, also participated in the meeting, the report said.
Analysts from the Global Magnitsky team contributed to this report.