Human rights body protests release of Rwandans

Set free. Rwanda’s High Commissioner to Uganda Frank Mugambage (right) with Rwandan nationals following their release last week. PHOTO BY JOSEPH KIGGUNDU

A human rights organisation has protested the release of the nine Rwandans by Uganda last week to ease tension between the two countries.

The executive director of Selfworth Initiative, Ms Prossy Boonabana, said in a statement on Saturday that they wanted the trial of the nine to continue in order for Rwandan refugees who were kidnapped to get justice.

“Some of these victims have their husbands, sons and relatives still incarcerated in Kigali safe houses without trial or prisons serving life sentences on politically motivated charges,” she said.

Ms Boonabana said many Rwandan refugees in Uganda have been living in fear.

“It was at the height of cries and quest for justice in 2017 that the relatives of victims took a leading role to voice out and condemn these aggressive activities by the Rwandan security agencies. These Rwandan agents had claimed the lives of many people and had pushed several others to live in constant fear,” she added.

But the State Minister for East African Community Affairs, Mr Olivier Nduhungirehe, said it was not surprising that Selfworth Initiative was condemning the release.

“The fact that they are condemning it shows they want this crisis to continue. We know its Sulah Nuwamanya and Prossy Boonabana who are behind this group created by the RNC [Rwanda National Congress,” he said.

Ms Boonabana, who says her husband, Mr Gendarme Rwema, the traditional leader of Banyamulenge in DR Congo was kidnapped from Uganda, says the release of the nine Rwandans was a shock to them.

“Since 2017, the victims have eagerly waited for justice to finally prevail through court systems, only this week to receive a shock of their lives that the government was withdrawing criminal charges against the seven hardcore Rwandan intelligence agents. This, we strongly condemn as miscarriage of justice,” she said.

Mr Nuwamanya, the director of programmes and policy at Selfworth Initiative, said they are Ugandans who are concerned about human rights abuses of refugees.

“Associating us with RNC is the usual Rwandan blackmail when they fail to be reasonable in the defence of their gross human rights violations,” he said.