Uganda Police boss suspended over handing over Kagame’s body guard back to Rwanda
3 Rwandan refugees resist transfer from city hotel
Kagame ex-guard charged
By Ignatius Ssuuna & Solomon Arinaitwe
Posted Thursday, November 14 2013 at 02:00
Posted Thursday, November 14 2013 at 02:00
Lt Mutabazi, 37, who appeared in court amidst tight security, looked calm and composed.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges read to him by Capt Charles Sumanyi.
He is charged together with 14 other suspects also accused of treason and forming a terror group.
Arrested under controversial circumstances last month by the Uganda police and handed over to authorities in Kigali, Lt Mutabazi told a packed court that while he would wish to engage the services of a competent lawyer to defend him, he was not financially capable.
But prosecution told him it was not the responsibility of the court to hire a lawyer to defend him.
The court asked Lt Mutabazi to hire lawyers from Rwanda Bar Association and gave him 12 days to do so.
The case was adjourned to November 25.
Rwanda National Police (RNP) had said their investigations indicated that Lt Mutabazi, was linked to a terrorism network led by members of Rwanda National Congress (RNC) party.
Lt Mutabazi, however, has previously claimed political persecution by Rwanda and had sought asylum in Uganda, which had been offered.
Though police from both countries had earlier alleged that Lt Mutabazi had been on Kigali’s wanted list over an alleged bank robbery in 2011, the Rwanda police now say investigations linked him to the recent grenade attacks in Kigali.
Lt Mutabazi fled Rwanda after he was accused of subversive activities and working with the Rwandan renegade Maj Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa.
He lived with his family on the 2nd Floor of Sky Hotel in Naalya, a Kampala suburb before he was arrested and extradited.
Meanwhile, MPs yesterday accused the government of deliberately feigning ignorance after the Second Deputy Prime Minister, Muganwa Kajura, denied knowledge about the recent spate of irregular arrests and extradition of Rwandan refugees.
The matter was raised by Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga who demanded answers from the Internal Affairs minister about “abductions of refugees including in Nakivale camp” in Isingiro district.
Mr Mpuuga made reference to the 2011 fatal shooting of Charles Ingabire, a Rwandan journalist who was living as a political refugee in Uganda.
However, when Mr Kajura rose to respond to the inquiries, he argued that Mr Mpuuga was making “generalities” that could not help the government get to the bottom of controversies involving Rwandan refugees.
Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah asked the MP to present specific cases in writing before Parliament could ask government to respond. “Put it in writing, give some details and hand it over,” Mr Oulanyah said.
MPs demand explanation for Rwandese extradition
Publish Date: Nov 15, 2013
Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga
Legislators have demanded for an explanation from the government over what they have labeled as the “illegal arrests and extradition” of Rwandese accorded refugee status in Uganda to Kigali.
The MPs said this is in contravention of international conventions and protocols about refugees to which Uganda is signatory.
Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga said many ‘Ugandan-Rwandese’ are apprehensive about the spate of such acts, including the murder last year, of a Rwandese journalist who had sought asylum in Uganda.
“The country deserves an explanation on this matter because we have thousands of families whose family lineages straddle the two countries,” Mpuuga said.
Underscoring the importance of respecting international conventions on refugees, Wamai Wamanga wondered how the top echelon of Uganda’s government can fail to appreciate the predicament of refugees, yet many of them had spent “a considerable chunk of their lives as refugees” during Uganda’s turbulent years.
“Many of us spent years in foreign countries as refugees, but those countries never extradited Ugandans to the governments of the day,” Wamanga said, adding: “If there are people who should know better what it means to seek asylum in a foreign country, it should be the top leadership of this government.”
However, with Public Service minister Henry Kajura denying knowledge of any “abductions, murders, arrests or extradition” of Rwandese nationals in Uganda, Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah ordered Mpuuga to furnish government with a comprehensive statement about his allegations before the relevant ministry can make a statement next week.
The latest development follows the arrest and extradition to Rwanda of Lt Joel Mutabazi – a former personal bodyguard of Rwandese president Paul Kagame – without following the due process.
Following Mutabazi’s extradition, the United Nation’s High Commission for Refugees lodged a formal complaint to government resulting into the suspension of Joel Aguma – the deputy CIID director in charge of crime intelligence.
It’s alleged that Aguma coordinated the arrest and extradition of Mutabazi last month.
Long sought after by the Rwandese government, Mutabazi had been granted asylum in Uganda, although according to Police Spokesperson, Judith Nabakoba, Kigali had handed the Ugandan authorities his warrant of arrest over criminal charges related to a bank robbery.
Terror suspect Mutabazi appears in court
Terror suspect Joel Mutabazi was yesterday arraigned before court to hear his charges.
Lt. Mutabazi, a former Rwanda Defence Force officer, appeared before Nyamirambo Military Tribunal in the morning, where multiple charges levelled against him and his co-accused were read out.
He appeared before the court with 14 other suspects, including three women.
Presiding judge Charles Sumanyi read to the suspect his charges.
“You are accused of terrorism, formation of an armed group, spreading rumors with an intention to incite the public to rise up against the State, murder and conspiracy to murder, offence against the State and illegal possession of fire arms,” Capt. Sumanyi said.
The judge then asked the suspect if he was ready to stand trial.
Lt. Mutabazi told court that he is indigent and asked for legal aid ahead of the trial, prompting the judge to adjourn the hearing to ensure that he is accorded the necessary legal support.
The next pre-trial hearing has been scheduled for November 25.
Desertion and subversion
Lt. Mutabazi deserted the army and fled to Uganda in October 2011, where he is alleged to have operated a terror cell responsible for the spate of grenade attacks in Kigali.
Information gathered from suspects arrested after the grenade blasts in Kigali suggested that Lt. Mutabazi had been coordinating a group of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) agents who allegedly carried out the attacks earlier this year.
The FDLR are a militia group based in DR Congo largely responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
An Interpol red notice was issued following an international arrest warrant by Rwandan authorities accusing Lt. Mutabazi of terrorism activities and other criminal acts.
Lt. Mutabazi was arrested and handed over by Uganda Police last month.
UNHCR expresses concern over the recent forcefully repatriation of Mutabazi Joel and terms it as “violation of international law” done by both the Rwandan and Ugandan Government.
Few days weeks after the barbaric incidence of forcefully repatriating a Rwandan Refugee who obtained an official asylum status in Uganda and under protection of UNHCR , Umuvugizi made an interview with UNHCR’s Chief of media and senior protection officer Adrian Edwards who expressed there concern over the recent forcefully repatriation of Mutabazi Joel as violation of international law committed by the Ugandan and Rwandan Governments .
While commenting on behalf of UNHCR Mr Edwards Adrian said this ”When we come to the principal under international law where any one seeking asylum shouldn’t be returned to his country of origin ,apart from voluntary ,that’s the principle according to refugee convention, in key human rights treaty mr Mutabazi has been returned to Rwanda and in that sense it’s clear violation of international law ”
He continued by defining this incidence as something which shouldn’t have never happened , we quote him ” Normally forcefully repatriation is some thing which will never happen, it shouldn’t happen it’s part of international law and custom law . It’s very concerning of what happened in that particular case” Un quote him.
UNHCR’s Chief Media and senior protection officer showed the way the recent forcefully repatriation of Mutabazi Joel puts him at a considerable risks and told us that UNHCR’s central focus is about his safety concern . He also told us that UNHCR has called the Rwandan authority to respect fundamental legal and human concerns for the individual who has been faced this ,like any other individuals who needs human rights.
He concluded by revealing the way UNHCR is working closely with the Ugandan and Rwandan governments as they have been dealing with every day urging them to respect their obligations of making sure that principal under international law are respected and apprehend who also requested them to explain reasons as why they ought to go wrong out of their obligations of fundamental legal and human concern.
Human Rights Watch is disturbed by the forcible return of a Rwandan Refugee from Uganda Joel Mutabazi and raises Grave concern if the Rwandan Government will Ensure Returnee’s Safety, Fair Trial
http://www.umuvugizi.com/?p=9345&lang=enBy Gasasira , Sweden
Human Rights watch is disturbed by the recent forcible repatriation of a Rwandan Refugee who had sought asylum in Uganda and took the opportunity to express it’s grave concerns if the Rwandan Government will ensure his safety and fair trial.
A Rwandan refugee who had served as a bodyguard for Rwandan President Paul Kagame was forcibly returned by Ugandan police to Rwanda after going missing on October 25, 2013, Human Rights Watch said today. His whereabouts were unknown for six days. The man, Joel Mutabazi, is now in police custody in Rwanda, in an undisclosed location. Mutabazi had survived a bungled abduction in Uganda in August as well as an assassination attempt in July 2012, in both cases by unknown perpetrators. The Ugandan police were informed about all these incidents and had agreed to provide him with 24-hour security.
Ugandan authorities have said they are investigating the incident and have suspended the Ugandan police officer who arrested Mutabazi and erroneously handed him over to the Rwandan authorities, according to a government statement. “The Ugandan police have utterly failed to protect this refugee, who was clearly at serious risk,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “It’s unconscionable that they handed him over summarily to the police force of the country whose persecution he fled.” Rwandan and Ugandan authorities claim that Mutabazi is accused of terrorism and other offences in Rwanda, and was the subject of an international arrest warrant issued by Rwanda. But the Ugandan government statement admits that handing Mutabazi to Rwanda without any court proceedings is contrary to its “established legal procedure” and the “Police Code of Conduct.” The Ugandan authorities should immediately put in place effective measures to protect Rwandan refugees and asylum seekers, particularly those whose security is at risk, Human Rights Watch said.
The Ugandan authorities should urgently complete the investigation they have announced into Mutabazi’s handover to Rwanda and publish its findings without delay. Mutabazi should be transferred back to Uganda and subject to a formal extradition procedure in a Ugandan court, including consideration of the human rights implications of the transfer and his refugee status, Human Rights Watch said. “Uganda had granted Mutabazi refugee status in 2011, which means his risk of persecution in Rwanda had been established and recognized,” Bekele said. “If Uganda is serious about remedying the error of handing him over to Rwanda without any legal process, they should ask the Rwandan authorities to return him and allow the Ugandan courts to decide the extradition request.” Mutabazi was first arrested in Rwanda in 2010.
According to sources interviewed by Human Rights Watch, the government accused him of being close to General Kayumba Nyamwasa, a prominent Rwandan government opponent exiled in South Africa. Mutabazi was detained incommunicado for several months in a military camp in Rwanda and there is credible evidence he was tortured.
In 2011 Mutabazi fled Rwanda and sought asylum in Uganda, where he was granted refugee status in October 2011. On July 12, 2012, a man armed with a gun came to his house in Kasangati, a suburb of Kampala, and fired at Mutabazi, but missed him. After this incident, the Ugandan government and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) arranged for Mutabazi to be placed under police protection in a guesthouse in a different area.
On August 20, 2013, a group of armed men, some in Ugandan police uniforms, others in civilian clothes, abducted Mutabazi from the guesthouse, forced him into a car, and drove off with him. Some of the men in the car were speaking Kinyarwanda, the language of Rwanda, Mutabazi has said. Mutabazi was released the same day, after senior Ugandan government and police officials intervened. The Ugandan authorities and the UNHCR then arranged to move Mutabazi to a different location, where he was under 24-hour police protection. It was from this second location that he disappeared on October 25.
Human Rights Watch wrote to the Ugandan inspector general of police, General Kale Kayihura, on October 30 for an explanation of Mutabazi’s disappearance, and tried to call him, but has not received a reply. The Ugandan police spokesperson refused to discuss the case when contacted by telephone and referred Human Rights Watch back to General Kayihura. On October 31, the Rwandan police announced that Mutabazi was in their custody. In a public statement, they said the Ugandan authorities had handed him over because he was wanted for terrorism and other crimes in Rwanda.
In a press release on October 31, the Ugandan minister for relief, disaster preparedness, and refugees, Hilary Onek, claimed that Mutabazi had escaped from his hotel, police had apprehended him, and “in an error of judgment and misinterpretation of the International Arrest Warrant, [a police officer] regretfully handed him over to the Government of Rwanda officials.”
At the time of Mutabazi’s abduction in August, the Ugandan police issued a statement saying they were responding to an extradition request from the Rwandan police, via Interpol, alleging that Mutabazi was wanted in connection with armed robbery in Rwanda. The statement said, however, that, “The Uganda Police Force would not hand over the suspect to any country, without going through legal procedures of deportation or extradition, as the law requires.” No such procedures were followed in either August or October. In an October 31 statement, the Rwandan police said that Mutabazi is wanted for “terrorism and other crimes” and suspected of involvement in grenade attacks led by the Rwanda National Congress, General Nyamwasa’s exiled opposition group, in collaboration with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a predominantly Rwandan armed group operating in eastern Congo that consists in part of people who took part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Human Rights Watch met with the Rwandan police commissioner for public relations and community policing, Damas Gatare, on November 1, but he said he could not provide details of the case beyond what was in the official police statement. He would not disclose whether Mutabazi had access to a lawyer.
When Human Rights Watch asked him where Mutabazi was detained, Gatare said that investigations were ongoing and that “depending on the nature of the case, we might not disclose the location.” Human Rights Watch expressed concern that Mutabazi could face an unfair trial in Rwanda, as has been the case with other alleged criminal suspects whom the government accused of having links with the opposition.
Rwandan judicial authorities should ensure that due process is respected and proceedings conform to international fair trial standards. “We are worried about Mutabazi’s well-being in Rwanda,” Bekele said. “The Rwandan authorities should guarantee his safety, publicly disclose his whereabouts, allow him access to a lawyer and visits by relatives, and, if he is to be charged, promptly bring him before a court.” UNHCR should accelerate the determination of refugee claims by Rwandan asylum seekers in Uganda and expedite the third-country resettlement of Rwandan refugees who might be at risk in Uganda, Human Rights Watch said.
Amnesty International urges Rwanda to reveal the whereabouts of detained Rwandan refugee Mutabazi Joel
By Gasasira, Sweden
Amnesty International has expressed it’s concern about the ruthless connivance of Rwanda’s killing squad and Uganda’s inspector General of Police , General Kare Kayihura who recently abducted Joel Mutabazi, a Rwandan refugee, was abducted from a safehouse on 25 October 2013 where he was under the protection of the Ugandan authorities and illegally returned to Rwanda. He is currently detained in Rwanda at an undisclosed location.
Amnesty International calls for the Rwandan authorities to reveal his whereabouts and to ensure that he has access to a lawyer of his choice, to medical care, and is able to communicate with his family.
The Rwandan police issued a statement on 31 October 2013 confirming that Joel Mutabazi was detained in Rwanda. They said he is suspected of terrorism in Rwanda.
The police have declined to provide any information to Amnesty International, including where he is being detained, the legal basis for his detention and whether he has access to a lawyer.
Joel Mutabazi is at particular risk from the Rwandan authorities because of his former role in the Rwandan security forces, including as a bodyguard to President Kagame. He was detained incommunicado by Rwanda’s Department of Military Intelligence at Camp Kami for several months in 2010 and 2011, where he was subjected to torture. Amnesty International has documented numerous allegations of torture and other ill-treatment of individuals detained at Camp Kami.
An official statement from the Ugandan Ministry for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Refugees has said that the abduction was carried out by a police officer who made an error of judgement and handed Joel Mutabazi over to Rwandan officials. The Ugandan authorities have publicly stated that they are investigating the matter and that the officer has been suspended from duty.
The Ugandan authorities transferred Joel Mutabazi without going though official extradition proceedings.
Joel Mutabazi fled Rwanda after receiving credible information that his life was under threat. He sought asylum in Uganda in October 2011.
Joel Mutabazi had previously survived an assassination attempt on 12 July 2012 at his home in Kasangati, Wakiso District, Central Region, Uganda. Joel Mutabazi reported that he heard voices outside his front door and initially assumed that it was his wife, who had gone to a neighbour’s house to watch television. He opened the door and found a man with a pistol. The man fired one shot immediately, which narrowly missed Joel Mutabazi, as he ducked to protect himself. The bullet hit the door instead. The assailant fired again and the second bullet hit the other door. After Joel Mutabazi cried for help, the assailant fled. After this incident, the Ugandan government in conjunction with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) placed Joel Mutabazi under police protection.
It was reported in August 2013 that a previous abduction attempt failed. On this occasion, Joel Mutabazi was allegedly put in a car and was set free when the Office of the Prime Minister intervened by telephone and called on the Inspector General of Police to ensure he was not extradited to Rwanda because of his refugee status.