Kampala — A group of lawyers has presented a list of more than 10 Rwandans they allege have been illegally detained and tortured in Ugandan jails contrary to Justice minister Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire's denial last week.
Following icy relations between Rwanda and Uganda which triggered the closure of Katuna border two weeks ago, Rwandan foreign affairs minister Richard Sezibera told journalists in Kigali on March 5 that many Rwandan nationals had been arrested and detained in Ugandan jails. In response, Maj Gen Otafiire denied the claims.
The lawyers led by Mr Eron Kiiza addressed a press conference in Kampala yesterday and said they wanted to correct Maj Gen Otafiire's denial about the detention of Rwandans.
"Recently, the Minister for Justice denied that any Rwandan national has been mistreated or illegally detained or tortured by the Ugandan authorities. He purported to be ignorant about this absurd reality that has unfolded since August 6, 2017 when Rene Rutagungira was arrested, detained incommunicado for over two months, tortured before being arraigned in the General Court Martial," Mr Kiiza said.
The lawyers named some of the Rwandans who they claim were brutally arrested, illegally detained well beyond 48 hours while others were allegedly detained in un-gazetted detention centres such as Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence base in Mbuya.
The lawyers said some of the detained Rwandans include Rutagungira, Claude Iyakaremy, Emmanuel Rwamucyo, Augustine Rutayisire, Darius Kayobera and his wife Claudine Uwineza.
The lawyers also named another group of Rwandans they alleged were illegally detained for weeks before they were deported and dumped at Rwanda border without any hearing or due process.
They are Fidel Gatsinzi, Dianne Kamikazi, Jessica Muhonngerwa, Dianne Kamashazi, Freddy Turatsinze, Emmanuel Cyemaire and Herbert Munyangaj.
The lawyers further allege that another Rwandan identified as Emmanuel Rwamucyo had his Shs500m grabbed from him by the Ugandan military upon arrest.
They urged the government to stop arresting Rwandans and artificially charging them with the template offence of unlawful possession of firearms for the sole purpose of prosecuting them.
Attempts to speak to Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa last evening were futile.
Meanwhile, a Rwandan national, Mr Moses Ishimwe Rutare, was yesterday arraigned before Nakawa Chief Magistrate's Court and charged with illegal entry and stay in Uganda. He was released on a cash bail of Shs2m.
Last week, Mr Sezibera accused Uganda of harbouring enemies of Kigali, a claim the Uganda government has strongly refuted. He further accused Uganda of arresting Rwandans and cautioned their citizens not to cross to Uganda.
180 Rwandan students to miss KU graduation
Katuna closure leaves border residents in tears
Inside Rwanda-Uganda row
Key players in two-decade Uganda-Rwanda love, hate relations
Different view. Uganda's Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa last week dismissed Rwanda's claims but added that all visitors, including Rwandans, must abide by Uganda's laws. While commissioning factories in Mukono District on Saturday, President Museveni warned anyone planning to destabilise Uganda would be met with decisive destruction. He did not mention any group or person.