Rwandan mother seeks help over baby snatched by Ugandan security

Julienne Kayirere was dumped at the border without her baby after being tortured by Ugandan security agencies. Kayirere is appealing for help to get her baby. / Emmanuel Kwizera

At the end of last month, Julienne Kayirere, a Rwandan mother, was dumped at the Rwandan border by Ugandan authorities after weeks of torture, both physically and emotionally.

The saddest and most appalling episode of her ordeal in Uganda, however, is that when she was detained, her one-month-old baby was taken away by Ugandan security operatives.

Since then, Kayirere has never seen her child again, almost one year later.

Kayirere, who hails from Ruhango District, appealed for help to get her baby to no avail.

She had lived in Mubende, a district in Western Uganda since 2017 and was operating a small business.

The breastfeeding infant, Joanna Imanirakiza, was snatched from her mother on November 12, 2018, when the Kayirere was arrested and consequently detained at Kasambya, in Uganda’s Mubende District.

Ugandan Police, later claimed that on the day of the arrest, the baby was referred to an orphanage known as Glory Land Children’s Home, in Mubende for care.

Two weeks later, on November 28, Kayirere was sentenced to a month in jail for – like hundreds of other Rwandan nationals before her – being in the country “illegally”.

She was detained at Kaweri Prison in Mubende District.

After serving her sentence she was released and she immediately went to Kasambya to reclaim her baby.

However, on getting there, Kayirere was told that her child had died. She was devastated.

“The judge released me but when I went to pick my ID, phone and baby, police arrested me again,” said the distraught mother.

“I begged them to give me my kid but they refused. I was dumped [at the border] without my baby,” she said.

Ugandan authorities had given her documents regarding the baby’s death. However, the documents that included a post-mortem report had different names and age to that of Kayisire.

When the mother insisted on knowing the whereabouts of her child, the Ugandan police threatened to kill her.  

While Kayirere’s baby is called Joanna Imanirakiza, the names on the post-mortem documents she was given were Rebecca Birungi, a four months old child belonging to someone else.

Up to today, the desolate mother still believes that her child is alive.

With a conviction that there was a mix-up, intentional or otherwise, the mother appealed to the Rwandan officials for help.

We understand Justice Minister Johnston Busingye has written to his Ugandan counterpart – Attorney General William Byaruhanga, calling for proper investigation to ensure the mother gets reunited with her baby, whom she strongly believes is still alive.

Busingye, our sources have intimated, has also furnished his counterpart will all the documentation, including the referral form that saw the baby temporarily transferred to the children’s facility and the fake post-mortem report.

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