By Amb Henry Mayega
The Daily Monitor of July 1, 2022 headlined, “Museveni told us not to lecture him on rights, says HRW boss” apparently quoting Kenneth Roth, the chief executive officer of the Human Rights Watch who was addressing the symposium on “barriers to accountability for unlawful detention” organized by the school of law, Makerere University.
Roth was, additionally, quoted in the coequal daily insinuating incongruous motives about the country’s ceo that “…the President’s remarks on human rights in Uganda is an argument that he can do what he wants… without scrutiny.” Roth added that he “doesn’t accept them (President’s remarks),” – but as who?
Indeed, the President was right to tell off HRW’s Roth, during the duo’s conversation on the rights hot-button, not to lecture us for stellar reasons.
First, for Roth to sojourn into Uganda for a day or two and he suddenly claims expertise in the country’s rights status is an act of both intellectual dishonesty and improvidence; our rights footing is segmented into three epochal periods; pre-independence, post-independence – 1985 and 1986 – to-date.
Roth should, placidly, know that there were no rights to talk of during the colonial times up to Idi Amin’s 1970s and part of the 1980s. Has Roth heard of the cold-blooded murder of Archbishop Janan Luwum and Chief Justice Ben Kiwanuka by Idi Amin’s most diabolic regime.
The Yoweri Museveni administration breathed new life into the irreproachability of human rights via force multiplier agencies like the Uganda Human Rights Commission – hence regenerating the rule of law, repudiating extrajudicial killings and Uganda was simultaneously restored into the international files of honour.
Secondly, Roth and HRW honchos should avoid being nondescript and focus their intellectual resources on global hot bath spots of conflict where there are no human rights to take home. Uganda is definitely not one of those troubled spots; this administration has ensured total tranquillity throughout the country since the blazing guns went silent in the early-2000s. For the first time in Uganda’s independent history, the UPDF established the civil-military relations commissariat purposed to safeguard citizens’ rights.
Thirdly, Roth’s lectures smack of “nampalaism” and imperial; which surmises, in a sense, that Uganda is a HRW’s exclave and by extension its bankrollers’ colony! Clearly, no amount of lecturing from Roth and ilk can alter even by a particle our national sovereignty.
Such lectures invoke paralyzing polarization and gory memories about colonial savagery like what the Belgians and their benefactors – the CIA did when they “de-toothed” Congo’s PM, Patrice Lumumba’s body in 1961 only to recently repatriate his gold-coated tooth for burial in an oversized casket!
Looters of Africa’s resources have always disguised as promoters of democracy and human rights before savagely pouncing on them with reckless abandon. Relatedly, we have not seen HRW honchos – who have a dystopian attitude towards Africa sit down any western hemisphere leader like Roth did with Uganda’s finest President, Yoweri Museveni; that’s because they hold a utopian view about that hemisphere. Not surprising though, HRW officials always sojourn to Africa and other gullible developing countries purposely to lecture us on human rights in this day and age.
That supposes that might is right; with, for instance, some mighty dominion which refused to ratify the Rome statute that birthed the international criminal court; the ICC officials were sanctioned by that dominion after attempting to investigate excesses committed against Iraqis.
Fourthly, it is imprudent on the part of Roth to assume that he knows about Uganda much more than President Yoweri Museveni; a man who has, with his safe pair of hands seen the country through the most difficult times of the 1980/90s when we faced the most numerous and horrid insurgent groups in the region of twenty; the very reason why citizens have, in a string of elections, preferred his candidature over the rest of the pack on Uganda’s crowded political canvass.Fifthly, the term security forces, some forget, connotes the use of force to subdue criminals; the last electoral season’s violence by NUP goons manifested as follows: torching of roads – a pickup loaded with used tyres and purposed for that activity was impounded by security in Kireka, looting, erecting illegal roadblocks, beating up women clad in yellow, threatening voters, petro-bombing PSVs plying the country’s western route as well as attempting to burn petrol stations. So, when some elect to trample the red lines of the law they ought to prepare for interface with the indomitable and gallant security forces and not to be massaged – that interface will not be with Roth and his HRW.
Surprisingly, if Uganda’s security guard were to be lowered, HRW and others would be the first ones to issue evacuation advisories to their staff.
Ambassador Henry Mayega
Consul General Designate
Uganda Consulate, Dubai