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Thursday, 31 October 2013

Uganda Police boss suspended over handing over Kagame’s body guard back to Rwanda

Police boss suspended over Kagame guard

Sky Hotel in Naalya, Kampala where Lt Joel Mutabaazi was believed to have been arrested. Photo by Steven Wandera  


Posted  Thursday, October 31   2013 at  02:00

Kampala- The police deputy CIID director in-charge of Crime Intelligence, Mr Joel Aguma, was last night suspended after he irregularly arrested and extradited to Rwanda Lt Joel Mutabazi, a former bodyguard to President Paul Kagame, long sought by Kigali.
Spokesperson Judith Nabakooba said whereas Mutabazi’s arrest was imminent following a September warrant of arrest for him issued by the Rwandan government, Mr Aguma will be investigated over the “manner in which he handed him over to [Rwandan authorities]”.
“He remains suspended until investigations are concluded into the matter,” Ms Nabakooba said, quoting Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura.
The Crime Intelligence boss returned last month from a one-year senior command and staff course at Rwanda’s National Police College, and took UN refugee and Office of the Prime Minister officials by surprise when he coordinated Lt Mutabazi’s extradition last Saturday.
Lt Mutabazi had already been offered an asylum and was awaiting outcome of his eligibility for refugee status, said state Refugees minister Musa Ecweru, who spent the better part of yesterday in crisis meetings with police officers over the matter.
The whereabouts of two Ugandans, one a Chieftaincy of Military intelligence operative at the rank of a Captain, arrested together with Lt Mutabazi remain unknown. According to Ms Nabakooba, the Israeli-trained commando was picked up after he escaped from the safe house provided to him by the UNHCR.
The Rwandan government, Ms Nabakooba said, in September this year, handed to them a warrant of arrest as proof that Lt Mutabazi was a wanted man escaping justice for a 2011 bank robbery in Kigali.
However, Mr Douglas Asiimwe, a senior Refugee Protection Officer in the Office of the Prime Minister, said Lt Mutabazi was “kidnapped” without their knowledge and the police have an explaining to do.
Mystery continues

Ms Karen Ringuett, the UNHCR external relations officer in Kampala, said “we do not comment on individual cases” when asked about the former bodyguard and why the refugee agency kept him in Uganda in spite of attempts on his life.
In 2010, unknown gunmen sprayed Lt Mutabazi’s house in Kasangati, Wakiso District with bullets, but managed to escape. In August this year, he was kidnapped, forced into an unmarked car, but rescued en-route to Rwanda following intervention by high-level Ugandan authorities and strong UN condemnation.
The pressure forced Uganda Police to apologise and instead offered two VIPPU guards to Lt Mutabazi to assure the world it was concerned about his safety.
Our investigations show that the initial guards were suspiciously replaced a couple of days before the former Kagame bodyguard’s latest abduction and surrender to Rwandan security. He is believed to have been arrested anywhere between heavily-guarded Sky Hotel in Naalya, a city suburb, and Masaka Road.

First Read:

Kagame bodyguard rescued in Entebbe: UN issues ‘strong’ protest over abduction of Rwandans in Kampala

Ugandan government assures Rwandan refugees of safety : Oh: really

Call to stop Rwandan aid over death threats to exiles

When Rwandan Refugees Die like rats amidst Global silence: Rwanda Journalist Shot in Kampala

Kagame may be charged with aiding war crimes – US: Oh! really

Seeing through the lies, hypocrisy and disinformation antics of the American New world system: US to cut military aid to Rwanda over support of Congo rebels: Oh really!

Rwandan students seek asylum in Uganda over insecurity claims

By Eriasa Mukiibi Sserunjogi

Posted  Monday, June 10   2013 at  01:00
In Summary
The 16 students allege that in pursuit of their results withheld by the Rwanda Examinations Board, they have been threatened, arrested or beaten by security officials.

Rwandan students who entered Uganda citing security threats back home say they are also being threatened by officials from the High Commission in Uganda at their camp at Old Kampala Police Station.

Speaking to the Daily Monitor at Old Kampala yesterday, the 16, (14 boys and two girls) said the process of applying for refugee status in Uganda had been going on smoothly until a “top” official from the Rwandan High Commission intervened.

The spokesperson of the group who asked not to be named citing security reasons, said on arrival in Kampala on Monday evening and reporting at the offices of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Kololo, they were advised to go to Old Kampala Police Station to start processing their asylum papers. An official at UNHR said he is aware of the group’s case, but said the issue is still within the hands of the government of Uganda.

At Old Kampala, the group’s spokesperson says, they filled asylum registration cards but Rwanda High Commission officials intervened. “A man who identified himself as Ngarambe from the Rwanda High Commission asked to go with two of us to the Rwanda High Commission but we refused,” he said.

The Rwandan High Commissioner to Uganda, Maj Gen Frank Mugambagye, who we first contacted for a comment on Saturday, told us last evening that he needed more time to find out about the case. Mr Ibin Ssenkumbi, the police spokesperson for Kampala Metropolitan area, said he was not aware of the case.

The students’ leader said the police officer at the refugee desk then changed his mind and told the group that there was no use continuing with the process because they were going to be returned to their country anyway. The group also say they encountered hostile reception by some officials at the Office of the Prime Minister in-charge of refugees.

The group says the officer from the Rwandan High Commission threatened to pick them up from Nakivale Refugee Camp in Mbarara, if they are ever taken there, and return them to Rwanda.

Earlier threats
It is such threats which the 16 say forced them out of Rwanda. They say the problem started when results for a total of 574 students who sat for the National Examinations 2012 were withheld by the Rwanda Examinations Board (REB).

Some of the affected students took up the matter with REB, to the Ministry of Education in Rwanda, Transparency Rwanda, the Prime Minister’s Office and finally the President’s office, all in vain.

At the President’s Office, they say, they were promised feedback in three or four days of filing their complaint. When they went back on April 18, they say 48 of them were arrested and detained by the police for “illegal gathering.” The next morning, they picked 20 of them to take up the matter with the Ombudsman, who promised to resolve the matter.

The escape
On Saturday June 1, the spokesperson said, one of the girls told the group that she had decided to run away due to the threats. “It was then that all of us discovered that we had all been threatened individually,” the spokesperson said.

By that time, they say, four of the 20 members were “no longer seen” and when they called one of them, the group spokesperson says he said, “You should leave those things.” They suspect they had given in due to threats.

Rwandan Students Seek Asylum In Uganda over M23

At least 16 Rwandan students are seeking asylum in Uganda after fleeing Kigali amidst claims that they were being conscripted into the M23 rebel ranks. Rwandan Ambassador to Uganda, Maj. Gen. Frank Mugambage, declined to comment on the matter. He was instead asking the News Agency to tell him where the students were found.
Rwandan Ambassador to Uganda, Maj. Gen. Frank Mugambage
Rwandan Ambassador to Uganda, Maj. Gen. Frank Mugambage

At least 16 Rwandan students are seeking asylum in Uganda after fleeing Kigali amidst claims that they were being conscripted into the M23 rebel ranks.

The students first appeared at Old Kampala police station on Tuesday last week, where they recorded their presence and requested for asylum.

When approached on Friday, the students declined to speak to the press fearing reprisal action from people they believe to be operatives from their home country. Two years ago a Rwandan Editor was shot dead in Kampala by people suspected to be Rwandan security operatives.

Another student said two groups of University students had been taken to unknown destination. When this group of students demanded to know where they were being taken, they were threatened with arrest.
Information obtained by those close to the students indicates that they were alerted by their relatives serving in the Rwandan government about the planned conscription them into the M23 rebel ranks.

M23 is a rebel group fighting the government in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The United Nations believes the rebel group, whose fighters are ethnic Tutsi, is backed by Rwanda and Uganda, a claim dismissed by both countries.

The students both boys and girls looked frail and hungry. They were using the police toilets to bathe.  However when asked whether they had had anything to eat, one girl said they had eaten by the mercy of God.

Rwandan Ambassador to Uganda, Maj. Gen. Frank Mugambage, declined to say anything. He was instead asking where the journalist had found the students. When told it was the police, Mugambage then suggested that the journalist should speak to policemen about the students.

Douglas Asiimwe, the Senior Protection Officer in the Office of the Prime Minister in the Department of Refugees, confirmed having heard the students’ presence in Uganda. Asiimwe could not, however, tell why they had fled their country.

This comes just over a week after seven suspected M23 rebels were arrested while on a recruitment mission in Kiruhura district.

It is not for Rwanda to manage Uganda’s refugee procedures 
Publish Date: Jun 23, 2013

By Albert Gomes-Mugumya

I was gobsmacked to hear Rwanda’s Ambassador to Uganda Maj Gen. Frank Mugambye say that the Government of Rwanda wants the 16 Rwandan students who recently crossed to Uganda seeking asylum to be taken back to their country. (New Vision, June 19, 2013)

The students claim they were being forced to join the M23 rebels of DR Congo, while the Ambassador claims they had taken part in some examination malpractice of some sort. The reasons given by both the students and the Ambassador are irrelevant to this article. My main concern is for the Ambassador to tell the Uganda Government what to do and how to manage its asylum seeking/refugee assessment process.

An asylum seeker is someone whose claim for protection has not been decided by the country in which she or he has submitted their claim. Not every asylum seeker will ultimately be recognised as a refugee, but every refugee is initially an asylum seeker.

Uganda has the obligation to protect the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. Forcible return of refugees and asylum seekers fundamentally violates Uganda’s international obligations. Uganda has signed the 1951 convention relating to the status of refugees and its 1967 protocol; and the 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of the Refugee Problem in Africa.

Uganda has a Refugees Act 2006 which epitomises its unwavering liberal policy towards refugees who seek protection until they can achieve any of the three durable solutions of: returning in safety and dignity to their countries of origin, resettlement in a third country, or integration in the country of displacement. This Act followed the 1960 Uganda Control of Alien refugees Act. Uganda also has a country asylum policy.

Ambassador Mugambagye should note that Uganda’s asylum system will decide whether the Rwandese asylum-seekers actually qualify for protection. They will be assessed and reviewed without any interference. Those judged through proper procedures not to be refugees, nor to be in need of any other form of protection, will be sent back to Rwanda. Uganda has a positive track record in giving fair individual procedures that determine refugee status and respects asylum seekers rights. The Uganda Government, however, does not need any directives from the Rwanda government on how to manage this process.

Since time in memorial, Uganda has hosted thousand of asylum seekers and refugees including thousand of polish refugees after the Second World War.

Likewise, so many families in Uganda sought asylum during the dark days of political myopia where anti-people elements ruled the day. It took courage to stand firm at such a time. The families of President Museveni, Amama Mbabazi and Ruhakana Rugunda sought asylum and were granted refugee status in Sweden, just as the families of Sam Njuba, James Wapakhabulo and Gilbert Bukenya in Papua New Guinea and Jack Sabiiti in Netherlands. There was no way the Swedish, Papua New Guinea or Dutch Governments could have listened to the government of the day to have them returned.

It is no secret that most of the current Rwandese leaders including Ambassador Mugambagye were either born in exile or sought asylum in various countries including Uganda. I wonder what would have happened, if the then ruling government in Rwanda, had demanded for their return at that time. The fact that Ambassador Mugambagye has vehemently demanded for the students return raises questions and puts credibility to the students asylum claim. What is sauce for the goose is source for the gander.

The author is a specialist in peace, conflict and international security

Rwandan Pascal Manirakiza found 'tortured' in Uganda


A Rwandan refugee who went missing in Uganda last week has been found tortured and unconscious, a Ugandan official has said. 

Pascal Manirakiza's abductors had "dumped" him at a cemetery near the capital, Kampala, the official said.
Mr Manirakiza was one of four Rwandans who told the BBC last month that they were seeking asylum in Uganda.

They accused the Rwandan army of forcibly recruiting them to fight in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The army dismissed their claim, saying they must have made up their stories to get asylum.
Last week, the UN called for an investigation into the "disappearance or abduction" of three Rwandan refugees from Uganda.

Rwanda denied any involvement in the abductions.

'Extradition blocked'
Police found Mr Manirakiza, 23, in an unconscious state after he was "dumped" at a cemetery by unknown men, said Douglas Asiimwe, the senior protection officer in the Ugandan prime minister's office.
"He was full of blood... He has torture marks in the back," Mr Asiimwe said.

Mr Manirakiza was being guarded at a hospital where he was receiving treatment, he said.
It was hoped that he would regain consciousness in a few days and that he would be able to shed light on who had abducted him, Mr Asiimwe said.

M23 rebels in Goma, eastern DR Congo - December 2012 Rwanda denies recruiting for the M23 rebels
Last week, another of the refugees about whom the UN had expressed concern, Joel Mutabazi, an ex-Rwandan presidential guard, was placed under the protection of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's office.

He had earlier been arrested by Ugandan police on a warrant issued by Rwanda.

The UN strongly protested against his arrest and demanded that Uganda guarantee the safety of refugees.
Uganda's government then rejected a request by Rwanda to extradite him.
One of the refugees is still missing, Mr Asiimwe said.

Mr Manirakiza last month told the BBC he had been a student in Rwanda when he was forcibly recruited to fight with the M23 rebel group in DR Congo.

He managed to flee and sought asylum in Uganda, he said.

The UN and DR Congo government have repeatedly accused Rwanda of backing the M23, an allegation it denies.
In 2010, Rwanda's ex-army chief Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa fled to South Africa.

He accused Rwanda of a failed attempt to assassinate him later that year, after he was shot and wounded in Johannesburg. Rwanda denied any involvement.

The shooting strained diplomatic relations between South Africa and Rwanda.

1800 Rwandans seek asylum in Uganda 
Publish Date: Jul 28, 2013
1800 Rwandans seek asylum in Uganda

By Innocent Anguyo

A total of 1,838 Rwandans are seeking asylum in Uganda, according to latest refugee statistics issued by the department of refugees in the office of the prime minister.

The asylum seekers include all Rwandans who fled their country between 1998 and June 30 2013 for various reasons including alleged political persecution and repression, and land conflicts.

However, more than half of them especially those below 11 years of age were born in Uganda.

According to a source in the office of the prime minister, a considerable number of the asylum seekers are former refugees who had earlier voluntarily repatriated to Rwanda but could not settle due to socio-political issues.

Findings of a 2010 research done by the Refugee Law Project (RLP) and the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) done at Nakivale settlement reveals that While the 1994 genocide and its immediate aftermath might have been the original cause of flight for many, ongoing political repression in Rwanda is not only preventing many refugees from returning, but is generating new refugees.

“Most of those interviewed in fact saw themselves not as war refugees but as victims of a war on individuals by a repressive government. Many had only recently fled into exile although often for the second or third time,” says the report.

Of the asylum seekers, 1, 325 are children while the rest are adults (more than 18 years old). There are 890 females and 948 males.

The asylum seekers are currently located in several areas of the country including Kampala, and settlements such as Kyaka II, Kyangwali, Nakivale and Oruchinga. Kampala hosts the highest number at 629 while Oruchinga is home to only two of the asylum seekers.

Announcing the number of Rwandan asylum seekers during a recent press conference, Hillary Onek, the minister of Refugees disclosed that Uganda is currently hosting 15,000 Rwandan refugees and asylum seekers.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) representative in Uganda, Mohammed Adar commends Uganda for continuously hosting the refugees and seriously taking its international commitment to provide protection to refugees.

“The UNHCR will stand with you through this noble endeavor,” Adar tells Uganda.

However, the Rwandan minister of disaster management and refugee affairs Seraphine Mukantabana asserts that all Rwandans should return home and contribute to the development of their country.

Nonetheless the aforementioned report titled, “A Dangerous Impasse: Rwandan Refugees in Uganda,” states that the absence of open conflict is not an adequate benchmark against which to promote return.

 It notes that return must be considered in terms of political openness and factors such as good governance (however that might be defined) and effective systems of justice, mechanisms that are increasingly being promoted within the ambit of transitional justice.

“These are more reliable indicators that it is not only safe to return home, but that return will be a genuinely durable solution.

Successful repatriation is not about stepping over a border: it is a long term process of negotiated access to human rights protection and is strengthened by addressing threats to post-conflict recovery and reconstruction,” reiterates the report.

The fate of the 1,838 asylum seekers rests in the hands of the Refugee Eligibility Committee (REC) that can either accept or decline their request for refuge.