Kampala -The American government has banned senior Ugandan army officers including a brigadier from travelling to America or participating in American military activities for alleged human rights abuses, military sources say. Most of those blacklisted military officers have previously or are currently working with military intelligence, which has in the past been accused of running illegal safe houses used to torture civilians.
Among those are Brig Leopold Kyanda, the former Military intelligence boss and the current UPDF Chief of Staff Land Forces. Although Brig Kyanda was sent to America as a military attaché after a two-year stint as CMI boss in 2008, American government did not block his appointment to avoid diplomatic spat with Uganda, which is the US main military ally in the region. According to Eagle Online investigations, Brig. Kyanda was recently scheduled to attend a military workshop in Nairobi sponsored by American government but the American embassy in Kampala said he was “not suitable” to attend the conference because of his “poor human rights record” when he was still CMI boss. “The list includes both the army and police officers,” the source said.
As CMI boss between 2005 and 2008, it’s alleged that Brig. Kyanda run and maintained safe houses in Kololo and Muyenga, Kampala suburbs that were used as torture chambers. Other officers on the list include; Col. Herbert Mbonye, the current deputy CMI boss, Lt .Col. Sande, former Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force (JAT) boss, Maj. Asiimwe and Maj. Mugarura. These officers have previously worked or are currently working with CMI. In response to the ban, the American embassy Public Affairs Officer in Kampala, Daniel Travis, said it’s not American government policy to comment on such sensitive issues. He, however, said American government doesn’t provide assistance to individuals or military units that have committed gross human rights abuses.
When contacted UPDF publicist, Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda said he wasn’t aware of any UPDF soldier being banned from travelling to America.
Daniel Travis’ full response: “Consistent with US Law and policy, all US embassies vet assistance to foreign security agencies, as well as certain Department of Defence training programs, to ensure that recipients have not committed gross human rights abuses. We do not provide assistance to individuals or units where the vetting process uncovers credible information of human rights violations. If that assistance requires to the United States, individuals and units that have committed gross violations of human rights abuses, are not eligible for travel. As a matter of policy, we do not comment on whether or not individuals from any given country are eligible for such programs”.