Sanctions: What it means to be caught in crosshairs

Who are the latest additions to the growing list?
This week, the Ugandan-owned Entebbe-based gold refinery, the rebel leader of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the spokesman for the M23 rebel group and five other people were all sanctioned by the European Union (EU). A result of the unrest in eastern Congo.
Mr. Alain Francois Vivian Getz, the beneficial owner and former manager of the African Gold Refinery; Mr Meddie Nkalubo (alias Mohammed Ali Nkalubo, Abul Jihad, Punny Boy), and Maj Willy Ngoma, spokesman for the M23 rebel group in the DRC, are among those sanctioned.

Days later, former Inspector General of Police (IGP) General Kala Kayihura was also sanctioned by the United Kingdom (UK) for his alleged involvement in “serious human rights crimes” while in charge of the Uganda Police Force.
General Kayihura, who was already subject to US sanctions, is accused of being responsible for several organizations that engaged in torture and other forms of cruel, cruel or degrading treatment or punishment, among other human rights violations. General Kayihura received a travel ban and asset freeze from the UK.

Are sanctions important?
On the surface, a large number of well-known sanctions officials dismissed the significance of actions taken, mainly by Western governments, as having little significance. For example, General Kayihura’s lawyers laughed off his blacklisting as meaningless because he neither owns nor conducts business in the UK.
The second point of contention is “unfairness”, where people who have been punished claim that they were not given a fair chance to defend themselves. The fact that defendants have not afforded their alleged victims the same due process often refutes this reasoning.
As for the penalties, they hurt. In Uganda, most sanctioned officials have either resigned or are now in less important positions than they were before as a result of the sanctions.

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After the US government imposed sanctions on him in December last year, Major General Abel Kandiho, who was then in charge of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (CMI), said the measures were politically motivated and had little impact.
After a month, General Kandiho was dismissed and sent to South Sudan. President Museveni, however, reversed his decision three weeks later, citing what he considered administrative difficulties in negotiating the US sanctions system. Major General Kandiho has been appointed Chief of Joint Staff of the Uganda Police.

Government agencies and individuals are reportedly afraid to touch sanctioned individuals – even with a long stick – for fear of repercussions, including loss of funds.
This is mainly because of the enormous power that imposes sanctions on countries such as the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom. To escape the consequences of such a decision, corporations and individuals working with the sanctioning entities and countries also avoid dealing with the sanctioned individuals and businesses.
Since then, the power of the entities imposing the sanctions has expanded on the domestic sources of income of the affected people, including pensions and mobile money.

Can someone be sanctioned by silence?
Beyond the people who are officially and publicly sanctioned, the sanctioning bodies have also imposed sanctions on other people, such as visa restrictions.
According to sources familiar with the procedure, many Ugandan officials who appear on such lists learn about it when they try to travel to the US and other sanctioning countries or their partners.
For example, in 2014—responding to a Ugandan law that imposes severe penalties for homosexuality—the United States cut off aid to Uganda, imposed visa restrictions, and canceled a regional military exercise. The late Andrew Felix Kwesi, the Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander at the time, would learn his lesson the hard way.

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Although not publicly criticized, Qavizi was barred from attending the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Junior Academy’s intelligence course by the US government.
This newspaper is aware that a number of military personnel, particularly those responsible for the 2016 massacre in Kassa, are subject to a series of international sanctions.

The US, for example, has many layers of sanctions. Some are publicly disclosed, and others – due to US privacy laws – are disclosed to the affected individuals. The Treasury Department list, commonly known as the OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) list, is public, while the travel and other restrictions are private.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken last year ordered visa restrictions for senior officials in Uganda, who were considered to have harmed the country’s democratic process. Mr. Blinken omitted the names of the authorities who were subject to travel restrictions, but many were members of the military and police because of their complicity in violent violations of the human rights of civilians. The names are being kept confidential, but those on the list will not be granted visas if they apply to visit the US.

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The effect of sanctions
The sanctions make it difficult for the affected parties to use the sanctioning country as a haven for their resources or to launder their illicit wealth or continue to conduct business in US dollars.
Supporters claim that sanctions such as those released by the US Magnitsky Act are an effective illustration of taking tangible measures against the most serious human rights violators and hitting them where it hurts the most – in their pockets. A significant penalty is also the inconvenience of being refused admission to countries he used to visit easily , as well as the huge stigma associated with being punished.

The Magnitsky Act and similar laws enacted by other countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia give those countries the power to impose financial fines on foreign citizens or organizations that engage in or commit serious human rights violations and corruption abroad. The law has extraterritorial effects and it punishes individuals or organizations for actions taken outside the borders of the country that enacts it, including freezing and seizing their assets and preventing them from traveling.
Sanctions, as in the case of General Kayihura, may be imposed on individuals (including their immediate family members and direct beneficiaries), corporations, state-related organizations and non-state organizations.

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