Visas: Rwandans accuse Belgian Embassy of inhuman treatment

KIGALI - Rwandans wishing to travel to Belgium are subjected to inhuman treatment when applying for visas, The New Times has established. The applicants from Rwanda have to wait many hours outside the embassy’s gate, rain or shine, yet non-Rwandans are accorded special attention. There are also reports that some Rwandans have been denied Visas basing on flimsy excuses. When The New Times checked at the embassy located in Kigali on Friday morning, applicants– among them the aged– appeared exhausted standing in the scorching sun.
Part of the early morning croud outside the gates of the Belgian Embassy. Many complain of maltreatment from embassy staff. (Photo / G. Barya)
Part of the early morning croud outside the gates of the Belgian Embassy. Many complain of maltreatment from embassy staff. (Photo / G. Barya)

KIGALI - Rwandans wishing to travel to Belgium are subjected to inhuman treatment when applying for visas, The New Times has established.

The applicants from Rwanda have to wait many hours outside the embassy’s gate, rain or shine, yet non-Rwandans are accorded special attention.

There are also reports that some Rwandans have been denied Visas basing on flimsy excuses. When The New Times checked at the embassy located in Kigali on Friday morning, applicants– among them the aged– appeared exhausted standing in the scorching sun.

"I have been waiting in this queue for four hours. What pains us most is that non-Rwandans are attended to quickly," a 45 year old man who spoke on condition of anonymity complained yesterday.

"This is highly uncalled for, if they don’t want us to go to their country, they should simply tell us." another young lady in the queue complained bitterly.

When contacted, Birk Brems, the Chargé d’Affaires at the Belgian Embassy said such complaints were news to him.

"We don’t offer Visas selectively. People who say the embassy is harassing them should report to us. We shall act accordingly," Brems said in a telephone interview on Friday.

"If you have people complaining about us, kindly bring them to us," he added.

The gate– just about three metres from the road– is manned by Intersec guards who select who has the right to enter and hand in application forms, they do not seem to follow any logical order.

Visa seekers claim that they are treated in a demeaning manner and that sometimes the crowd of applicants is so large that they hinder traffic. They argue that the Embassy compound is large enough to hold a reception area for Visa applicants.

Many prominent government and civil authorities in the country have in the past been reportedly made to wait for hours until they give up chasing for the Visas.

"I had managed to enter but they sent me outside claiming I never answered questions satisfactorily," says an old man who says has been chasing the Visa for 15 days.

Complaints at Belgian’s embassy come a month after it emerged that many Rwandans who want to travel to Canada had to mention their ethnic group when applying for visas, a revelation that shocked many.

The applicants had to furnish a copy of their pre-1996 ID card which states the ethnic group of the holder.

Rwandan government officials revealed to The New Times that they had raised the issue with Canadian officials but were yet to get a satisfactory answer.

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