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Conditions: Here’s what the EU wants Museveni to do to avoid devastating sanctions, aid cuts

President Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni and EU head of delegation to Uganda Attilio Pacifici. Courtesy Photos

The European Union (EU) parliament has made clear what Uganda’s President Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni should do to avoid biting economic sanctions, including aid cuts.

On February 11, majority Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted to adopt resolutions to condemn human rights violations, crackdown on civil society and media, as well as gaps in electoral democracy.

The MEPs agreed that “sanctions against individuals and organisations responsible for human rights violations in Uganda must be adopted at EU level under the new EU human rights sanction mechanism, the so-called EU Magnitsky Act.”

Parliament further warned that “the systematic use of state repression and violence could fundamentally impact the EU’s future relationship with Uganda.”

Here are the conditions the EU parliament has set for Museveni’s government as Europe mulls further sanctions against Kampala:

  • Putting an end to the persistent use of lethal and excessive force by the security forces and the arbitrary arrests and detention of, and attacks against, opposition politicians and supporters, protesters, human rights defenders and journalists.
  • Ensuring justice and accountability for all victims by carrying out impartial, thorough and independent investigations into the shootings and violence perpetrated by security forces.
  • Objective and independent application of the existing legislative framework while taking full note of the facts and evidence available.
  • Launch of an immediate independent investigation into the tragic events of 18 and 19 November 2020, where at least 54 people needlessly lost their lives at the hands of the police following the arrest of Bobi Wine, and where hundreds more were injured, something that President Museveni himself has acknowledged, and to hold those responsible to account.
  • Addressing all election challenges and complaints in an independent and transparent manner using the available constitutional and legal remedies.
  • Immediately and unconditionally release of or dropping of all charges against all those arrested and detained solely for participating in peaceful political assemblies or for exercising their right to freedom of expression and association, including the 2016 European Parliament Sakharov Fellow Nicholas Opiyo.
  • Respect of the freedom of expression and the right to peaceful and safe assembly, including the free movement of all political actors and their supporters.
  • Denouncing of the ongoing crackdown on civil society.
  • Ensuring that Mr Opiyo’s rights to due process and a fair trial are upheld to the highest standard.
  • Guarantee, protect and promote fundamental rights – including the civil and political rights of the country’s citizens – fair representation regardless of ethnic background, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.
  • Affirming the crucial role that the political opposition, civil society actors, journalists and the media play in the country.
  • Lifting any restrictions that may limit people’s right to freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of association.
  • Ensuring secure and unrestricted internet access for all, including to social media and online messaging platforms, as not to do so constitutes a serious obstacle to freedom of information, including media freedom.
  • Ending the arbitrary suspension of civil society activities, and the arrests of civil society activists and the freezing of their financial assets.
  • Immediately desisting from using the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext for introducing laws and policies that violate international law and for rolling back human rights guarantees, including unduly restricting the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, the main targets of which are LGTBTQ+ persons.
  • Respecting the rights and dignity of the country’s people and to strictly limit the exercise of emergency power to the protection of public health.

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