Former Police chief Kale Kayihura’s thin veil of normalcy out of public office was pulled down last week when the USA slapped a travel ban on him and his immediate family.
Once a heavily protected ruling establishment blue-eyed boy, General Kayihura is now staring down a bleak future.
Anytime, the Donald Trump administration could lean heavily on Uganda to extradite Kayihura to the United States of America (USA) to answer charges of his involvement in corruption, torture and abuse of human rights. He no longer has the iron shield of army and police protection.
Last week, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions on Kayihura for serious human rights abuse and corruption. These sanctions mean that all property and Kayihura’s interests in property and of any entities that are owned directly or indirectly, 50% or more by him alone or with other designated persons that are in the USA or in possession or control of US persons are blocked and must be reported to the OFAC.
Naturally, Kayihura has denied owning any property in the USA either directly or through proxies. It was under Kayihura’s 13-year stewardship of police that the country was gripped with some of the yet-to-be-resolved heinous murders such as that of former Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Felix Kaweesi.
Several tortures under his very nose were carried out at the infamous Nalufenya police station. This torture chamber was closed by the current IGP Martins Okoth-Ochola. Kayihura for a long time while he superintended the police force managed a budget of about Shs 600 billion.
Some of this money was used to recruit rogue agents such as the Kiboko squad and Boda Boda 2010 who tortured members of the political opposition. And some of the money was used in corrupt practices such as buying political loyalty for the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM).
Unfortunately for Kayihura, it appears now that he has to answer the charges alone, much as he may have been overzealously trying to please higher-ups. There are lessons to learn from Kayihura’s predicament; impunity never lasts.
He cannot claim to have tortured political opponents at Nalufenya on behalf of the powers that be. Unfortunately, it may appear, the state cannot be vicariously liable for his crimes. He cannot be protected either for having tortured people. He will have to face the charges alone.