Rwanda: Another Victim Recounts Illegal Detention Experience in Uganda

16 September 2019

As officials from Uganda were touching down on Monday to meet with their Rwanda counterparts to discuss how to end a standoff between the two countries' relations, another Rwandan victim had just been deported back to the country.

Benimana, 19-year-old, who arrived in the country on Saturday is the latest victim of deteriorating relations between the two countries.

Just last week, 32 Rwandan Nationals, most of whom were pastors of the Pentecostal ADEPR Church who had been illegally detained were released by Ugandan Government.

Benimana narrated his horror experience of illegal arrest in Kisoro District in the western region of Uganda.

Like many other Rwandans, the young Rwandan had travelled to Uganda to find job opportunities, but those opportunities turned into adversity when he was accused of entering the country, despite having official documents.

"When we arrived at Cyanika border just before we would continue our journey, our travel documents were confiscated by Ugandan officials and alleged that we were not allowed to travel to Uganda," he narrated.

Benimana said he had travelled with another friend, Niyonzima, both of whom who had travelled to look for casual jobs.

Upon being held by Ugandan military officials, they were taken to a detention centre in Kisoro District before they were asked to pay Ugandan shilling 1.5 million to be released.

"We were many Rwandans, around 30 as per my memory, but only a few were able to pay and were let go. The rest of us were charged with 18 months in prison," he said.

He added that they arrived in Uganda in September 2018 and told they would serve 18 months, but after forcibly accepting that he entered into Uganda illegally the prison sentence was brought down to 12 months.

Benimana explained that throughout their time in prison they were subjected to intense forced labour, constantly beaten and occasionally given food.

"I was personally beaten and four other Rwandans who were severally beaten because of refusing to agree to what to what they were being accused of," he says.

He particularly recalls another Rwanda who he says was poisoned by fellow Ugandan prisoners who throughout he was being favoured over them.

"I remember a Rwandan who had been put in charge of looking after work equipment we were using, like hoes and spades, who was poisoned by jealous Ugandans and succumbed to death," Benimana said.

Rwanda has accused Uganda of illegally detaining and harassing its Nationals, as well as harbouring dissidents.

Uganda has constantly denied the allegations despite series of Rwandans who have testified the horrific experience they have gone through.

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