Kampala — Police have secretly repatriated 11 suspected Rwandan spies who had disguised as refugees, in the process helping them to evade prosecution in Uganda, the Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees has said.
In an interview yesterday, Mr Hilary Onek said the suspects first registered at Kyaka II Refugee Settlement Camp in Kyegegwa District as Congolese refugees, but were arrested two months ago at Mirama Hill border as they re-entered the country this time as Rwandan refugees.
"We are very upset about the decision by the police to send them (suspected spies) to Rwanda without our approval. So, we missed out on prosecuting them," Mr Onek said.
During World Refugee Day celebrations at Nakivale Refugee Settlement Camp in Isingiro District on Wednesday, Mr Onek alongside his junior colleague, Mr Musa Ecweru, warned that foreigners had infiltrated refugee camps to spy on, and in some cases, kill targeted refugees.
The minister said the 11 men claimed to have been former Banyamulenge rebel fighters in eastern DR Congo entered through Bunagana border post in Kisoro District three months ago.
They were screened and taken to Kyaka II settlement camp, but disappeared under unclear circumstances.
"We found that they were some elements that came to destabilise the refugees here and we arrested them," Mr Onek said.
Kidnap and illegal repatriation of refugees wanted by Rwanda is one of the charges against seven senior police officers currently facing prosecution at the General Court Martial.
The contrast this time is that Uganda wanted the alleged undercover agents tried, but some elements in police, according to Mr Onek helped them escape.
Mr Patrick Onyango, the deputy police spokesperson, said he was not aware about the case and would require more time to cross-check the facts, which he had not done by press time.
Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has condemned the June 17 ethnicised violent fight among refugees watching a World Cup match at Tika Zone in Rhino Camp, Arua District, resulting in the death of four.
"It is tragic that refugees should be killed by fellow refugees in this manner. We send our condolences to the bereaved families," the UN refugee agency said in a statement, quoting UNHCR Arua sub-office head Bik Lum.
Some of the refugees have since been relocated to prevent further inter-tribal clashes between charged sections of Nuer and Dinka populations.
In Kampala, the UNHCR country representative, Mr Joel Boutroue, condemned the deadly fight as "senseless" and commended Uganda government's swift actions.
"The acts that caused these deaths and injuries are criminal, and the perpetrators must swiftly be brought to book in accordance with the laws of Uganda," he said.