A group of Ugandan lawyers is demanding the immediate release of Rwandans kidnapped and being held illegally by the operatives of Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) and the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) of Uganda.
About 100 Rwandans are being detained incommunicado in ungazetted places, violating international obligations which allow foreigners detained access to consular services and legal teams.
Uganda has also been torturing and deporting Rwandans.
The lawyers said that the Ugandan government’s abuse of human rights has been going on for far too long.
Led by Gawaya Tegulle and Michael Aboneka, the lawyers are representing Rwandans being detained illegally.
“We challenge the security agencies to come out and press formal charges against our clients without further ado. Let the detainees have their day in court. Then we shall find out if the security agencies of Uganda ever bother to do their homework in the first place,” the lawyers said.
The security agencies of Uganda are not known to operate fancy resorts or hotels where people detained are able to enjoy life in the lap of luxury, they added.
“From recent experience, by the time such detainees are released, they have been tortured with such brutality, they are barely sane...or recognisable. We, therefore, invite all good people in Uganda and in the international community to condemn these crimes against humanity.”
Uganda has previously said that they are not holding any Rwandans illegally, prompting Kigali to produce evidence to show that over 190 Rwandans have been held since 2017.
The lawyers presented names of their clients being held, including dates of their illegal arrest.
They include Eric Rugorotsi, David Twahiirwa, Theoneste Ntakirutimana Appolinaire Assimwe and Deus Gasana.
Rugorotsi, a businessman engaged in legitimate commerce, was kidnapped by officers of ISO while in Kampala where he was buying motor vehicle spare parts.
Officers kidnapped him from his hotel room on October 25, 2018 and have since been holding him in Kyengera—a Kampala suburb.
David Twahiirwa was kidnapped on December 15, 2018 while going about his business in Kampala and has been denied access to lawyers or the embassy.
Theoneste Ntakirutimana, a Pentecostal minister attached to the Pentecostal Church of Rwanda, was kidnapped from Rubaga in Kampala on the March 28, 2019 and has since been in the custody of CMI. Appolinaire Assimwe another Pentecostal minister of the Pentecostal Church of Rwanda was illegally arrested in Mubende in central Uganda on April 17, 2019.
Deus Gasana, a money changer at the Trinity Bus Terminal in Old Kampala, has been held illegally since April 3, 2019.
Uganda has exhibited hostility towards Rwandans in many ways including arrest, torture, harassment and incarceration without reasons as well as illegal deportation of hundreds of Rwandans.
This has seen innocent Rwandans languish in torture chambers for months with some going on for years, without trial.
Evidence and eye witness accounts show that the victimisation of Rwandans is carried out most often at the direction of operatives of Rwanda National Congress (RNC) operatives working hand-in-hand with CMI.
Ugandan government officials have also supported and facilitated groups seeking to destabilise security in Rwanda, including members of FDLR and RNC.
For instance, Uganda issued a Ugandan passport to Charlotte Mukankusi – a high-ranking official of the RNC, the anti-Rwanda group headed by Kayumba Nyamwasa.
High ranking Ugandan officials have also been meeting RNC officials, including Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa who bankrolls anti-Rwanda operations.
“We have reports of many more people detained similarly, because the security agencies seem to be picking them daily by the dozen,” the lawyers said.
In all these cases, the added, neither the lawyers nor the families of the detainees have been allowed to access them.
“The state has never once produced them in a court of law to answer any charges they might have against them.”
The lawyers say that they have instituted legal proceedings in respect of all these cases, but neither their demands nor the orders of court have been respected by the security agencies.
Uganda was called out for its disregard for international law and continued human rights abuses in regards to treatment of Rwandans with the sole aim of settling personal scores.
“We are further disturbed by certain people in society who target Rwandese citizens and run to the security agencies with the sole aim of settling personal scores. All they have to say is that these are Rwandan spies and the Uganda security agencies will come running,” the legal team said.
“We remind the Uganda government about the need to respect human rights and rule of law, and sheer constitutionalism, as entrenched in the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda. We further remind the Government of Uganda about its obligations under the international law – to protect the lives, property and rights of foreigners within the borders of Uganda,” they added.