KAMPALA – The standoff between Rwanda and Uganda has taken a new twist after a group of lawyers on Monday issued a list of what they claim are being detained on trumped up charges in Ugandan prisons.
Led by Mr. Eron Kiiza, the lawyers held a press conference in Kampala and claimed that they were confirming the accusations by Rwanda that Uganda is holding its citizens incommunicado.
“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.
Last week, Justice minister Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire’s and Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa dismissed claims by Rwandan foreign affairs minister Richard Sezibera that many Rwandan nationals had been arrested and detained in Ugandan jails.
The Rwandan held in Uganda, according to the lawyers are Rutagungira, Claude Iyakaremy, Emmanuel Rwamucyo, Augustine Rutayisire, Darius Kayobera and his wife Claudine Uwineza.
The lawyers said some of these Rwandans were brutally arrested, illegally detained well beyond 48 hours and are allegedly being detained in un-gazetted detention centres such as Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence headquarters in Mbuya, Kampala.
They also accused the Ugandan military of grabbing UGX500 M belonging to another Rwandan identified as Emmanuel Rwamucyo upon arrest.
The lawyers urged the government to stop arresting Rwandans and artificially charging them with unfounded offenses of unlawful possession of firearms.
They also listed another group of Rwandans they said 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 news is bound to further escalate tensions between the two countries. For close to two weeks, Rwanda has closed its borders with Uganda, accusing the latter of hosting rebels seeking to destabilize their country as well as arresting and jailing Rwandan nationals, allegations Uganda denies.
On Friday, President Museveni, while commissioning factories in Mukono district, warned those seeking to destabilize Uganda.
“Those who want to destabilize our country do not know our capacity. It is very big. Once we mobilise, you can’t survive,” Gen. Museveni said.
But in response, Kagame said: “When I hear somebody say no one can destabilize their country, I agree. No one should actually be destabilizing that country but that country should also not be destabilizing others, I think it is a fair deal.”