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Rwandans drag Uganda to East African Court of Justice over torture, illegal incarceration

Presidents Museveni and Paul Kagame had some talks in Angola. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA/KIGALI – A group of Rwandans have filed a lawsuit against the Ugandan government at the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) seeking compensation for alleged arbitrary arrest, detention and torture by Ugandan security organs.

According to local media, the case was filed at the EACJ Kigali Sub-registry in Kimihurura.

In June this year, a Rwandan couple and a teacher, through their Kigali-based lawyer Richard Mugisha, of Trust Law Chambers petitioned the same court, seeking reparations stemming from spending at least nine months in custody over what they claim were baseless accusations.

Flanked by their lawyer, Emmanuel Butare of MRB Attorneys’, the all-male group appeared at the East African Court of Justice Kigali office, where they recounted tales of alleged torture by the Ugandan security organs which has left some of them nursing lifetime injuries.

The group, which consists of mostly members of the Association of Pentecostal Churches in Rwanda (ADEPR) is yet to come to the conclusion of what they expect in terms of compensation.

When ADEPR’s Pastor Jean de Dieu Singirankabo moved to Uganda thirteen years ago, he straightway registered a church and a Non-Governmental Organisation which he named Munezero Foundation of Life.

Their biggest focus was on supporting orphans.

“Everything flourished. Within that period, we opened several offices and we purchased equipment worth about $100,000, bought a fleet of cars to help with our work and purchased pieces of land for agriculture,” he said.

A few days later, with the help of the Rwandan High Commission in Uganda, their families were repatriated back to Rwanda.

“We have lost everything. I have to start over. What I want from the government of Uganda is justice for myself. I am a shell of my former self because I have permanent chest and rib cage pain from the torture. I also want them to release the others we left behind,” he was quoted by local media as saying.

Rwanda media has previously linked Uganda to several anti-Kigali armed groups, including FDLR and FLN, which last year made incursions on Rwandan territory killing at least nine civilians and wounding several others.

A UN report of experts released in December last year said Uganda was a major source of new recruits for ‘P5’, a coalition that brings together different Rwandan rebel groups led by RNC’s Kayumba Nyamwasa, a Rwandan renegade based in South Africa.

In the past few months, Rwanda has indicated that it is concerned about the fate of hundreds of Rwandans allegedly incarcerated in Uganda and with no access to consular services and enduring torture.

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