Ms Liza Peterson, the acting US assistant secretary of State for democracy, human rights and labour has asked government to account for the 54 people who were killed during the November 2020 riots in Kampala and other towns.
Ms Peterson made while addressing journalists after her two- day work visit to Uganda.
The riots took place after security forces arrested the then presidential candidate, Mr Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, in Luuka District during 2021-2026 presidential campaigns.
According to her, government has a constitutional mandate to protect citizens and ensure that their rights are protected.
“During my meeting with the Uganda Human Rights Commission, I conveyed the United States government concerns of recurring events of forced disappearances, arbitrary detention and torture of Ugandans by the security forces. I also reiterated United States government call for Uganda government to transparently show accountability for security forces abuses including killing of 54 individuals in November 2020 and reports of forced disappearances and torture,” Ms Peterson said.
She said her visit underscores the US commitment to the people of Uganda and the need to raise the concern over human rights abuse. Ms Peterson said Ugandans deserve better than what the government is offering.
She added that the US has unwavering support to deepen democracy, respect for human rights, freedom of expression and association.
“Forced disappearances, arbitrary detention, physical and mental torture of Ugandan citizens by the security forces must stop,” she said.
The US assistant secretary for democracy, human rights and labour paid a glowing tribute to the survivors of torture for standing up to the regime and telling their stories without fear.
“I commend the survivors of torture for sharing their experiences with the public and I commend citizens calling for full expression of their constitutional rights and protection,” she said.
Bobi Wine together with the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Mr Mathias Mpuuga, said torture has continued to be used by the security forces as a tool for suppressing dissenting voices.
“You all know what the Uganda government under Gen Museveni has continued to do. He has continued to preside over torture and comes to thump chest his soldiers for job well done after torturing Ugandans. You all remember the events of November 18 and 19, 2020 where people were killed…,” he said.
He said as people fight for change, they will continue to use different avenues to put pressure on the government to respect human rights.
Mr Mpuuga said the Opposition leaders are also united to demand for a free Uganda.
In the police report, which former Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa shared with diplomats representing countries that are permanent members of United Nations Security Council during a meeting on April 13, investigators said the actions of security forces were provoked by rampaging rioters who assaulted passers-by, damaged property and blocked and set car tyres alight on roads.
Mr Kutesa “regretted’ the November riot killings, but denied abductions by security forces mainly of the NUP party, arguing that “anyone suspected of wrongdoing in Uganda will be arrested, investigated and subjected to the due process of the law,” according to an April 13 press statement issued by the Department for Public Diplomacy of Foreign Affairs.
During a televised address by President Museveni in November 2020, he said 32 of those killed were rioters, backed by Opposition politicians, and characterized them “terrorists”
He also said that some had been taken out of action by Special Forces who had distinguished themselves fighting al-Shabaab in Somalia and Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels in the DR Congo.