Human Rights Watch: M7 Frustrating Graft Fight Top story

2393 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Maria Burnett, the senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch says
scandal after scandal, the government’s patronage politics and lack of the political will undermines the fight against corruption in Uganda.

President Yoweri Museveni is the biggest obstacle in the fight against corruption, according to a report released by Human Rights Watch. The Washington based Human Rights body faults Museveni’s continued utterances during investigations or even trial of corruption suspects as a major setback in the graft fight.

The report titled ‘May the big fish swim,’ details lack of commitment on the part of government to fight corruption. The report also documents 27 times, in which Black Monday activists were arrested by police to prevent them from sensitizing the public about the endemic corruption that has ravaged the country.

Maria Burnett, the senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch says scandal after scandal, the government’s patronage politics and lack of the political will undermines the fight against corruption in Uganda. She says commenting on the corruption cases during investigations and trial shape how they are concluded.

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The report also cites political interference in the work of anti-corruption agencies as one of the things that have derailed high level prosecution. Researchers found that some senior officials in Government directed prosecutors to delay prosecution or prematurely try cases with weak evidence. It also notes that investigators, prosecutors and witnesses involved in such cases have been targets for threats and bribes.

The report details how Donor funding worth 12.7million US Dollars that was meant for rebuilding Northern Uganda, which was ravaged by a 20 year civil war was stolen from the Office of the Prime Minister in late 2012. Another 45 million US Dollars was diverted from the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria in 2010 and 12 million US Dollars stolen from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization in 2006.

Human Rights Watch says that stealing of resources intended to help realize fundamental rights to Justice, Health, Water, Food and Education can have disastrous consequences. Burnett calls on government to establish a witness protection program and asset declaration program which have been lacking over the years.

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It also recommends that government to fill vacancies in the IGG’s office, the Directorate of Public Prosecution and Judiciary to ensure the prosecution of all corruption suspects and clear the case backlog. Government has not yet commented on the Human Rights Watch report.