11 June 2013

Rwandan Envoy Clarifies On Fleeing Students

Students seeking asylum in Uganda should return home and settle their A-Level results standoff with relevant authorities, High Commissioner Frank Mugambage has said.

Sixteen students, including two females, have for the last one week camped at the Old Kampala Police Station (a centre for refugee asylum seekers) after they left Rwanda, last week, claiming they were being harassed by members of Rwanda Education Board (Reb) over their cancelled 2012 A-Level results.

When The New Times visited the students, yesterday, at the Uganda Office of the Prime Minister at Old Kampala where they were found processing refugee application documents, a student who only identified himself as the group's spokesperson, said they sat for their exams through the proper procedures but that their case has largely been misunderstood by Reb officials.

"I got 66 points out of 70, but the following day my results had been erased from Reb web site," the group's leader claimed. "There are students who skipped classes which is understandable but our case is different and should be investigated properly."

But Mugambage, the high commissioner to Uganda, described the statements by the students as "utter falsehoods" and said the High Commission has engaged both the students and the Ugandan authorities, adding that a mutual understanding has been reached that there is no basis for seeking asylum.

Reb has mandate:

"Their results were withheld due to exam malpractices and they never followed the established procedures while registering for exams," Mugambage said.

He said part of the group is in Rwanda and is following up the issue with relevant authorities, urging those stranded in Uganda to return and settle their case like their colleagues.

"It's unfortunate for young people to resort to blackmail to obtain what they should attain through hard work," Mugambage said, adding that Reb has a mandate to regulate and provide guidelines on examinations, a mandate that includes rejecting malpractices.

Douglas Asiimwe, the senior protection officer in the Office of Prime Minister in Uganda, said his office is looking into the matter.

"We are documenting all the applications of the students and soon, we shall send the report to the refugee eligibility committee to verify their claims," Asiimwe said.

He said the students will have to convince beyond allegations that they are indeed being persecuted.

The students are part of the 574 private candidates whose 2012 senior six results were cancelled by Reb over alleged examination malpractices and cheating.

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