While blacklisted officers cannot travel to the United States or attend any US-sponsored training program, I am hoping that many more Ugandans will be included on this blacklist, and those who need protection from Uganda’s harsh criminalizing laws will receive easy access via VISAS to the USA.
By Melanie Nathan, April 04, 2014.
The Ugandan Newspaper, The observer reports that a known persecutor of Gays and LGBTI Ugandans has been denied a visa to the U.S.A. We are learning that an enforcer of Uganda’s persecutory Anti-homosexual laws, Andrew Felix Kaweesi, a Kampala Metropolitan Police commander has been denied a visa to the U.S., were he was supposed to attend a three months course at the FBI junior academy.
“The enactment of the anti-homosexuality law, which is widely opposed by Western countries, has claimed its first scalp in Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander Andrew Felix Kaweesi.”
In reaction to the signing of the law, which makes homosexuality a crime punishable by life in prison, the American government has cancelled a planned intelligence course for Kaweesi.
Kaweesi was expected in the USA this month to attend the course at the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) junior academy. The course was postponed last year after a congressional budget standoff with the President Obama administration forced a government shutdown.
The training was meant to re-skill Kaweesi in investigating and handling new terrorism threats. In a letter copied to the inspector general of police, Gen Kale Kayihura, the American embassy cited the enactment of the anti-gay law as reason for the rejection and the relatively dampened American relations with Uganda.
Kaweesi acknowledged receiving the letter that blocked him.
“It’s true that the American ambassador has written to me over the matter,” Kaweesi said.
He described the decision as unfortunate. He said the anti-homosexuality law was passed to protect Uganda’s cultural interests. Police Spokesperson Judith Nabakooba also confirmed in an interview on Tuesday that Kaweesi had been denied a US visa.
“It’s true they denied him a visa and he also has a copy of the refusal letter. He was going for three months’ training,” she said.
Last December, the US embassy in Kampala blacklisted some senior police officers singled out for their role in the brutal suppression of the opposition-led ‘walk-to-work’ protests.
According to police sources, the blocked officers included Grace Turyagumanawe, who is in charge of operations, Joel Anguma, the former commandant of the Rapid Response Unit (RRU), and Laban Muhabwe.
According to US embassy sources, the blacklisted officers cannot travel to the United States or attend any US-sponsored training programme. On February 24, President Museveni signed into law the Anti-Homosexual Bill to the chagrin of the international community.
The White House sharply criticised the law as being “more than an affront” and warned that the Obama administration would review America’s relationship with Uganda.
Kaweesi, formerly commandant of Masindi Police Training School in Kabalye, replaced Grace Turyagumanawe as Kampala Metropolitan chief in September 2011.
According to a local Ugandan Gay man, now in hiding from the likes of this very police officer, and the threat of mob attacks, told me:
“The police are at it.These two were arrested after a tip off by neighbors. These are the nightmares we go though everyday. It is no longer safe to stay in the same address for more than a month.”
“Melanie, it looks like the Obama administration is finally walking the talk! We are grateful, but what about Visas for us so we can escape this hell?”
We have received several reports of police abusing LGBTI people in Uganda with unwarranted arrests in some areas of those perceived as gay.
Now finally the Obama administration is denying visas to those who persecute gays, albeit under the laws of the sovereign country, and much of the world, including the U.S.A., is noting that those laws are institutionalized persecution, providing for arrests that infringe upon the basic human right to one’s sexuality, as well as a human being’s right to happiness and love. And furthermore the license this provides to police to abuse and humiliate detainees who are often paraded in front of press. Furthermore the law provides license for mob lynchings and assaults, ignored by the police. LGBT people in Uganda have no protection from police even if they are abused by those taking the unjust law into their own hands.
Recently two young men were arrested and paraded in front of TV and Press cameras. Even if they are released or found guilty, their lives will be forever in great danger. We at OBLOGDEE refuse to perpetuate the indignity of the arrests by showing the TV footage of the 2 young men, though same can be readily found on the internet.
I am hoping that many more Ugandans will be included on this blacklist, while those who need protection from Uganda’s harsh laws will receive easy access via VISAS to the USA.