By Alex Muhumuza
Ugandan authorities – who have become notorious for breaking EAC Common Market laws on free movement of people – yesterday, Thursday 27, dumped nine Rwandans at Gatuna and Cyanika borders. The majority of these Rwandan citizens have suffered illegal detention in Ndorwa Prison, in Kabale southwestern Uganda on concocted charges of “illegal entry”.
Among the inhumanely dumped Rwandans was a young lady, Niyonkuru Jermaine, 19, who was in prison even longer than the others – a year and a half. At the time Niyonkuru, of Nyabihu District, went to Uganda on 20 February 2018 she was two months pregnant. She says she was going to visit her fiancé. She says she passed Cyanika Border through legal means. She had her national ID, and at the border she used a border pass to cross into Uganda.
But when her bus reached Kisoro town at a roadblock, the police singled her out, like they were doing other Banyarwanda. She says when she showed them her border travel pass – what they call a jetton – a Ugandan policeman just confiscated it then told her she was under arrest for illegal entry!
They first took her to Kisoro Police Station, and then transferred her to Ndorwa Prison. Niyonkuru says she was completely innocent of any wrongdoing. Yet the innocent woman still was imprisoned, even when it was clear she was pregnant. She had her baby in prison. She says so many Rwandans suffer for no reason in that prison.
Ever since Museveni adopted a hostile policy against the Rwandan administration and began backing groups bent on destabilizing Rwanda – chief of them Kayumba Nyamwasa’s RNC, and the genocidal FDLR – Ugandan security forces have illegally arrested, abducted, jailed and tortured Rwandans numbering in thousands. In the Kisoro area in particular, Uganda police set up a roadblock just to look for and harass Rwandans by arresting them on false pretenses.
In Kampala the notorious Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, CMI l, has become a principle partner with agents of RNC in hunting down Rwandans. They abduct Rwandans in the most illegal ways imaginable, and subject them to unspeakable torture in the dungeons of CMI’s Mbuya Barracks headquarters. The Rwandans dumped yesterday, at Gatuna Border, count themselves lucky that they have made it out of Ugandan detention alive.
They include people like Sinamenye Jean, 55, of Nyagatare District and Nzabonimpaye, only 18, too of Nyagatare District. They, like all the others, were accused of “illegal entry”, or “illegal stay” in Uganda. Others are Bavugirije Fulgence, 49, Uwiragiye Chartine, 37, Mutabazi Mutiganda, 30, Nshimiyimana Omar, 33, Nzeyimana Emmanuel, 20, and Nyamucenshera Anastasie, 31.
None of these Rwandans crossed to Uganda to commit crimes or do anything illegal. They did not go there through any ungazetted paths. Going by their personal documents, which they showed, namely IDs, there is no reason they should have suffered incarceration. They have endured an injustice for reasons they know nothing about. “Why should people continue to fall victim to Museveni’s partnership with RNC?” asked an outraged Rwandan.
On the other hand unscrupulous Ugandan security operatives, using the cover of Museveni’s hostile policy against Rwanda and its nationals, have seen an opportunity to extort money. “When they confiscate the travel pass of a Rwandan, for instance, they are looking for a bribe,” one Rwandan that was extorted by Uganda Police told this website. “When they take you to Kisoro Police and lock you up, if you can pay them a bribe of even Ushs 300,000 they will release you.”
It has been said by more than one victim of Kisoro Police that failure to pay the bribe, or “fines” of up to Ushs 1.8 million means the person will be transferred to prison. There Ugandan guards beat Rwandan prisoners brutally. They work them from dawn to sunset on government farms of cotton, maize and other crops. It is slave labor. Anyone that gets exhausted is beaten seriously, former prisoners have described the ordeal.
Legal experts have said that the illegal detentions of Rwandans, citizens of a member state of the East African Community, will have repercussions for Kampala.
This month three Rwandans – one couple and a teacher – sued Uganda saying they were illegally arrested and tortured by the country’s security agencies. Kigali attorney Richard Mugisha filed the lawsuit on their behalf against the Ugandan Government at the East African Court of Justice.
Mugisha said that Uganda violated laws that govern the EAC. “My clients’ human, and other rights were violated by the Government of the Republic of Uganda in total disregard of its obligations under the treaty establishing the East African Community and the Common Market Protocol,” said the lawyer.