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Uganda Denies Human Rights Abuses - 2003-01-30

The Ugandan government is denying charges of human rights abuses. Yesterday a US-based human rights group told English to Africa that Ugandan authorities are using arbitrary arrests and detention to suppress political dissent.

Human Rights Watch consultant on Uganda, Juliane Kippenberg, says the alleged abuses are directed not only against political opponents, but also against civilians. But a government spokesman, Shaban Bantariza, says Uganda has one of the best human rights records in Africa. Major Bantariza spoke with English to Africa reporter Richard Kotey from Kampala. He said contrary to what some observers are saying, there has not been a return to the brutal practices of former president Idi Amin.

He said if that were so, one would see people disappearing without trace, there would no rule of law as there is now, and bodies would be seen in the streets with their heads cut off. Major Bantariza said the claims by Human Rights Watch are not credible and the group should verify the facts with the Ugandan authorities. He said his government has many enemies and antagonists, but it continues to contain them. He said where necessary, Ugandan authorities pardon those who come back reformed. He said the human rights organization must be specific when leveling charges against his government.

He said Uganda’s Anti-Terrorism Law is intended for terrorists and those who sponsor terrorism -- and not journalists, as alleged by Human Rights Watch.

Click above links to download or listen to interviews with Human Rights Watch and Ugandan Government official.