By Patience Kirabo
In an article on Tuesday titled “Travelling to Rwanda: MPs task government to issue advisory”, Daily Monitor which has become more and more like a propagandist organ reported a Ugandan Parliament session on current strained relations between Kampala and Kigali.
In the session Parliament is claimed to have tasked the government to issue a travel advisory to Ugandans who wish to travel to Rwanda, citing recent reports of “mistreatment” and “killing of Ugandan nationals” in the neighboring country.
One immediately was struck by how those members of Parliament that tabled the motion either are misinformed, or are just cynically being manipulated.
Rwanda has not mounted any campaign of harassment against Ugandan nationals. No Ugandan is persecuted, hunted down on false pretexts of “illegal entry”, “espionage” and others. No Ugandan arrested in Rwanda is denied due process; locked up illegally and incommunicado, or physically abused. All these are things that were happening to Rwandan nationals crossing to Uganda to do business, or other ordinary things.
When the torture; the persecution and mistreatment of Rwandans had been going on for over two years; and despite repeated protests by Kigali – through diplomatic notes verbale and other channels – but instead the Ugandan security agencies responsible just escalated the persecution of innocent Rwandan nationals, that’s when Rwanda issued its travel advisory against her citizens crossing to Uganda.
“(Uganda Speaker of Parliament) Rebecca Kadaga rather than promoting lawlessness should know better,” said a lawyer. The comment was prompted by the fact that Kadaga seems to be equating the shooting of some smugglers from Uganda that turned violent and attacked Rwanda security patrols at different times.
“If a Ugandan is crossing through official, gazetted crossings, he has nothing to fear; and no one else who isn’t breaking the law has anything to fear,” Rwandan authorities have been stressing.
Ugandans everyday use all the official crossings and enter Rwanda and are received well. Even those that are caught breaking the law (unlike the extremely few violent smugglers that attack law enforcers) too enjoy their rights in Rwanda. Their court cases are expedited within 48 hours. If the Uganda High Commission in Rwanda wants to visit any, they are facilitated to do so.”
Kadaga should acquaint herself with the facts, and be responsible with the truth as a high-ranking dignitary in her country, observers say.
“If for some reason she feels Ugandans (who are perfectly safe unless their Rwandans counterparts) should not go to Rwanda any longer, she should just tell the truth and not resort to smears by innuendo.”
The parliamentarian should also be aware of the presence of groups hostile to Rwanda that plot violent conflict against the country, and that also work hand in hand with Ugandan security organs to harass innocent Rwandans travelling to, or already in Uganda.
Some Ugandan MPs in fact have showed concern why Uganda still harbors negative elements bent on destabilizing the neighboring country. Some tabled a motion to summon Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa to appear before Parliament and issue a statement on the current standoff between the two countries.
Rather, Kadaga should have told the parliament on the proceedings of the motion rather than searching for equivalency of travel advisory that has no basis.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga says that there is concern that Ugandan nationals who wish to travel to Rwanda are finding it hard because of the sour relationship between the two countries. These words are belied by the facts on the ground, as even shown by the busloads of Ugandans that safely travel to Rwanda, and leave daily.
The speaker and others instead should be taking their government more to task why it is not implementing the Luanda MoU, which amongst other things stipulates nationals of one country detained in another without due process should all be released. So far Uganda has released (or dumped in the case of many), just a few dozen illegally detained Rwandans.
Yet there are hundreds remaining in the country’s prisons and torture dungeons.
Luanda MoU also stipulates the dismantling of groups hostile to another country. Kampala is yet to dismantle RNC.
As for Rwanda, she can never relax her vigilance against smuggling; especially the trafficking of drugs and other illegal substances – more so doing this kind of thing at night.