By The New Times
A group of nine Rwandans have filed a lawsuit against the Ugandan government at the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) seeking compensation for alleged arbitrary arrest, detention and torture by Ugandan security organs.
This is the second time in less than a month the Ugandan government is being sued over illegal arrest and torture. The case was filed at the EACJ Kigali Sub-registry in Kimihurura.
In June this year, a Rwandan couple and a teacher, through their Kigali-based lawyer Richard Mugisha, of Trust Law Chambers petitioned the same court, seeking reparations stemming from spending at least nine months in custody over what they claim were baseless accusations.
Flanked by their lawyer, Emmanuel Butare of MRB Attorneys’, the all-male group appeared at the East African Court of Justice Kigali office yesterday, where they recounted tales of alleged torture by the Ugandan security organs which has left some of them nursing lifetime injuries.
The group, which consists of mostly members of the Association of Pentecostal Churches in Rwanda (ADEPR) is yet to come to the conclusion of what they expect in terms of compensation.
Victims decry losses
When ADEPR’s Pastor Jean de Dieu Singirankabo moved to Uganda thirteen years ago, he straightway registered a church and a Non-Governmental Organisation which he named Munezero Foundation of Life. Their biggest focus was on supporting orphans.
“Everything flourished. Within that period, we opened several offices and we purchased equipment worth about $100,000, bought a fleet of cars to help with our work and purchased pieces of land for agriculture,” he said.
Everything seemed to be going well until March this year when the arrests of Rwandans in Uganda became rampant.
“They arrested many members of our church. In May this year, the operatives appeared at my home and arrested me and some other six people from my family. They blindfolded us and handcuffed us and we were taken to CMI safe houses where we were severely beaten as we were being accused of being spies and plotting to overthrow the government,” he said.
Six weeks after their arrest, Singirankabo claims that he and a few others were handcuffed and blindfolded again before being dumped at the border and told never to come back to Uganda.
A few days later, with the help of the Rwandan High Commission in Uganda, their families were repatriated back to Rwanda.
“We have lost everything. I have to start over. What I want from the government of Uganda is justice for myself. I am a shell of my former self because I have permanent chest and rib cage pain from the torture. I also want them to release the others we left behind,” he said.
Uganda has lately been linked to several anti-Kigali armed groups, including FDLR, the offshoot of forces and militia responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and FLN, which last year made incursions on Rwandan territory through Burundi, killing at least nine civilians and wounding several others.
A UN report of experts released in December last year said Uganda was a major source of new recruits for ‘P5’, a coalition that brings together different Rwandan rebel groups led by RNC’s Kayumba Nyamwasa, a Rwandan renegade based in South Africa.
In the past few months, Kigali has indicated that it is concerned about the fate of hundreds of Rwandans incarcerated in Uganda and with no access to consular services and enduring torture.
Source: The New Times / Rwanda