Museveni Should #ReleaseInnocentRwandans

Yoweri Museveni signed his part of Memorandum of Understanding with Rwanda to resolve a crisis caused by his hostile policies on Rwanda. For more than two years, Rwanda accused Uganda of arbitrary arresting its citizen on transit or residing in Uganda. Although Uganda kept denying the fact, it systematically proceeds to illegally arrest, torture and dump Rwandan citizens at the border.

Yoweri Museveni

Numbers are shocking, since mid-2018, Uganda dumped about 600 Rwandans at the border of Rwanda-Uganda. Uganda cannot call it deportation, as the dumped individuals are not subject to deportation orders. They are simply taken to a crossing point, stripped of their belonging and told to go back to Rwanda. The saddest part of this story is that the border dumping and theft that victims suffer on their last day in Uganda is the least traumatic abuse.

Museveni and his notorious CMI (Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence) arrest hundreds of Rwandans in an effort to support the RNC (Rwanda National Congress) Terrorist group, they target young men and women of fighting age but will not spare infants and the elderly. The victims are usually approached by an RNC recruiter or a fundraiser. Rwandans who refuse the RNC approach in Uganda are kidnapped by Intelligence officers and taken to secret detention facilities. They are viciously tortured and forced to confess that they are spies working for Rwandan intelligence.

With no access to medical attention, legal or consular support, with no contact to their family members, these ordinary Rwandans undergo cruel and inhumane treatment, torture and forced labor. With their dumping at the border, they bring very disturbing testimonies of hundreds left behind and worst of all, how RNC and CMI are working together in arresting, interrogating and even in torturing Rwandan in Uganda.

Brave Ugandan lawyers and judges have attempted to help innocent Rwandans but all their efforts were in vain. From obtaining Habeas Corpus orders (produce the witness) to mandatory release orders, lawyers obtain orders that are simply ignored by Ugandan Intelligence. In April 2019, Lawyers for Rugorotsi Eric and Twahirwa David obtained orders by a court of law to the Director-General of ISO (internal Security Organization) for their release, ISO simply ignored the court. Charges too are constantly changed for the few lucky enough to have lawyers fighting for their release. Importantly, no Rwandan has so far been convicted of espionage in Uganda. In fact, most are not tried, they are simply locked away.

The Luanda MoU specifies in article 1 (c) that both parties undertake to “protect and respect the right and freedoms of the nationals of the other party residing or transiting in their national territories, in accordance with the law of that country”. It is probably the most important clause of the MoU. Since Uganda has never issued a complaint about its nationals being mistreated in Rwanda, the fact that Museveni signed the MoU is an admission that Rwandan rights are baffled in Uganda.

It should be easy for Museveni to implement article 1 (c) all that is required of him is to #ReleaseInnocentRwandans

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