RUKIGA – Security operatives in Rukiga District, Kigezi region, on Monday evening intercepted two buses from Rwanda and arrested 72 Rwandan nationals before deporting them back to their country over lack of travel documents.
The Rwandese, who included 11 children, 20 women and 41 men, were intercepted at Muhanga Town Council in an operation led by the Rukiga Resident District Commissioner, Mr Emmy Ngabirano.
They were then ordered to present documents to show that they qualify to be in Uganda.
However, 72 had no travel documents and were escorted to Katuna border and ordered to return to their country. Some of those arrested told the security officials that they were coming to for causal jobs in different districts of western Uganda.
Mr Ngabirano warned foreigners against entering Uganda without travel documents, saying that they will be arrested and deported back to their home countries because it’s an offence. He advised transporters to always avoid transporting foreigners that do not have travel documents to avoid being inconvenienced.
In recent months, government security agencies have arrested and deported many Rwandese nationals over illegal entry. In May, a court in Kabale District sentenced eight Rwandan nationals to 13 months in prison or a fine of Shs300,000 each after it found them guilty of entering Uganda illegally.
Prosecution led by Ms Gloria Inzikuru told Kabale Chief Magistrates Court presided over by Mr Julius Borore that on April 28, the accused entered Uganda through Katuna Border without travel documents, thus contravening the Uganda’s citizenship and immigration control laws.
They all pleaded guilty to the offence but asked court to allow them to go back to their country, arguing that they entered Uganda to look for survival.
This comes on the backdrop of strained relations between Uganda and Rwanda prompted by accusations from Kigali that its citizens were being kidnapped, detained and prosecuted by Kampala security officials.
In May, this website reported that two senior police officers were being held by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) for allegedly setting free 13 Rwandan nationals who entered the country illegally.
The two were Isingiro DPC Richard Erimu Okiror and the CID officer, Mr Charles Ndamanyire, who had been in detention since March 30.
PML Daily had learnt that the two police officers commanded the arrest of the refugees who entered the country in May through Kisoro.
Sources added that the police officers handed the group to the immigration office in Mbarara for verification of their travel documents.
It is said that the refugees were taken to Oruchinga Refugee Settlement Camp in Isingiro and their files were handed to Isingiro Police Station for investigations.
The officers reportedly decided to set the Rwandans free after finding their documents authentic.
However, sources said, CMI officers were infuriated on learning that the group had been released.
CMI later summoned the RPC, Mr Robert Walugembe, and the police officers to explain on what grounds they released the foreigners.
At the end of the meeting, the police officers were arrested and have been held ever since. CMI operatives also arrested Amos Kiriya, the commandant of Oruchinga Refugee Settlement Camp and an Immigration Officer, Mr Carthbert Washaba, from Mbarara.
Late last year, Kigali wrote a protest note to Kampala, questioning the Uganda authorities’ decision to arrest some of its citizens, including Rene Rutangugira, Gisele Gatsinzi and James Bayingana.
However, in March, President Museveni and his Rwanda counterpart Paul Kagame held talks and blamed the recent tensions between the two countries on lack of information sharing and cooperation among their intelligence chiefs.
Addressing a joint media briefing shortly after holding talks at State House Entebbe on Sunday, March 25, the two leaders emphasized that the reported breakdown in diplomatic relations between their countries is misconstrued and pledged to strengthen cooperation.
“There’s no fundamental conflict between Rwanda and Uganda, we don’t even have a border problem like that of Kenya. We discussed that issue (on Rwandan citizens being harassed) and the solution is close cooperation,” President Museveni said.
President Kagame said: “There are so many things said out of context; we have agreed to have institutions on both sides (Uganda and Rwanda) work together to go deep down into the matter and get the right information.”
The two leaders pledged to share information on any matters affecting their citizens.
Mr Museveni also accused his officials of not working with their Rwanda counterparts on amicably resolving some issues.
“You find a minister finds it very difficult to telephone another minister in Rwanda. I think we need a course in telephoning,” he said.
Mr Kagame said: “It is always a pleasure for me to visit Uganda. Every time we meet is an opportunity to strengthen our friendship, fraternity and its our people going to benefit on what we can do together.”
The two leaders also emphasized that the countries need each other to develop.