The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday imposed financial sanctions on Uganda’s chief of military intelligence, Major General Abel Kandiho, over alleged human rights abuses committed under his watch.
The action freezes any U.S. assets of Mr Kandiho and generally bars Americans from dealing with him.
Uganda’s military said it was disappointed by the decision and would seek clarification from the U.S. government, pointing out that the African nation has been a security partner of America against militancy in East Africa.
The Treasury announced the sanctions alongside measures against Iranian and Syrian officials it said were involved in repression and undermining democracy in those countries.
The Treasury is imposing a series of sanctions this week to mark President Joe Biden’s U.S. Summit for Democracy, targeting people it sees as engaged in corruption, serious human rights abuses, and who undermine democracy.
In a statement, the Treasury said military intelligence officers arrested, detained, and physically abused Ugandans “due to their nationality, political views, or critique of the Ugandan government” under Mr Kandiho.
Those detained by Mr Kandiho’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence were held without legal proceedings, “subjected to horrific beatings and other egregious acts,” including sexual abuse and electrocutions that led to long-term injury and even death, the Treasury said.
It added that in some cases, Mr Kandiho was personally involved, leading interrogations of detained individuals.”
In April, the United States imposed visa bans on Ugandan government officials accused of human rights violations and repressive acts that tainted the January election.
Uganda’s military said earlier it had been officially notified of the sanctions.
“We are disappointed that such a decision could be made by a country we consider friendly, a partner and a great ally, without due process,” a statement from the military said.