Tortured in Uganda, Rwandan mother narrates how she was separated from her one-month old baby

Desire Uwitonze and Julienne Kayirere. The duo was dumped at the border after being tortured by Ugandan security agencies. / Emmanuel Kwizera

Julienne Kayirere, a Rwandan mother who was illegally detained, tortured and separated from her one month old baby was dumped at the Rwanda-Uganda border. She is appealing for help to get her baby.

She narrated the ordeal to the media, on Sunday. She went to Uganda in 2017 on a business trip.


“Police arrested and imprisoned me. I had a baby of one month whom they took away. The judge released me but when I went to pick my ID, phone and baby, police arrested me again,” Kayirere said.


She was detained for three more weeks, joining many other Rwandans who had been in prison for up to two years.


She was later released and dumped at the border without her child.
“Police picked me up but refused to give me my child. I begged them to give me my kid but they refused. I was dumped without my baby,” she narrated.

Kayirere who hails from Ruhango District said a policeman who had promised to reconnect her with her baby was deployed elsewhere.
“They forged documents, pictures and changed the name of my baby and claimed that he had died,” she said adding that when she pushed for more details about the whereabouts of her child, the police threatened to kill her.  

“One person advised me to report to the Rwandan embassy in Uganda. I came back to Rwanda but up to now I have no information about my baby’s whereabouts,” she added.

Desire Uwitonze, an artist, is another Rwandan dumped at the border after being tortured in Uganda.

He said; “I was arrested and accused of illegal stay and spying in Uganda.”

The Ugandan police solicited for one million shillings in order to release him, he said.

“I was beaten every day. I was denied communication with my family members and friends.”

The torture victim said that he was later allowed to call his mother to help pay the fine imposed on him by the magistrate before being released.

He said there are many Rwandans languishing in Ugandan prisons where they are also subjected to forced labor.

“I urge Rwandans to look to stay in Rwanda instead of going to unsafe places,” he advised.

Some of the tortured Rwandans are getting health complications, Uwitonze said.

Silas Hategekimana, a Rwandan man who spent weeks enduring physical and psychological torture in Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI)’s torture chambers earlier this year succumbed to the effects of the cruelty he was subjected to during his illegal detention.

Ernest Abijuru, a Rwandan student who was tortured by Uganda’s security agencies, is undergoing treatment at Kamonyi hospital.

This month Rwanda and Ugandan officials held a one-day meeting in Kigali to come up with a solution to end the ongoing impasse in relations between the two countries.

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