Uganda Law Society withdraws border closure case against Rwanda

Monday November 11 2019

Trucks of goods stuck at  Katuna border

Trucks of goods stuck at Katuna border post following the closure by Rwanda. FILE PHOTO 

By JULIET KIGONGO

The Uganda Law Society (ULS) has withdrawn a case it filed before the East African Court of Justice challenging Rwanda government's decision to close Cyanika and Gatuna border points with Uganda.
The case was filed before a Panel of three Judges of the East African Court of Justice in Arusha was withdrawn on Monday.
The Justices included; the Principal Judge Monica Mugenyi, Deputy Principal Judge Faustin Ntezilyayo and Justice Charles Nyachae.
Through a letter by KTA Advocates presented in court by Mr Simon Peter Lukuya, ULS noted that there have been changes in circumstances and would like to withdraw the case.

“We apologise on behalf of our client for any inconveniences caused and kindly seek your indulgences,” reads part of the letter.
When contacted on phone, the ULS president, Mr Simon Peter Kinobe confirmed the development and said that they did not have substantial evidence to support their case.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised us to resolve the matter through diplomatic means and not litigation. So with the absence of ample evidence, we found it wisely to withdraw the matter,” Mr Kinobe said.
On April, 26, 2019 ULS petitioned the East African Court seeking a declaration that the actions of the Rwandan government in arbitrarily closing various one-stop-border posts that Rwanda Shares with Uganda contravened and infringed on a number of provisions in the East African Community treaty, the common market protocol and the customs union protocol.

However, this was just one of the two applications filed challenging the Rwanda government's actions.
The other application was filed before the same court by a Ugandan Lawyer, Mr Steven Kalali.
Kalali contends that the closure of the borders in February 2019 infringed on rights and freedoms of its people and those in the neighboring countries.

In his application, Mr Kalali further contends that the actions of Rwanda have since caused financial loss to a number of traders which is a violation of the East African Community Treaty where Rwanda is a signatory.
Now the Panel of three Judges has directed Mr Kalali to file his submissions on January 23, 2020 while Rwanda was ordered to file their reply by February 24 before the judgment is delivered on notice.
This comes just days after President Paul Kagame criticised Uganda for failing to organise a second bilateral meeting to discuss and resolve problems that have frozen movement of people and goods across their borders.

Mr Kagame told a press conference last Friday that whereas Kigali had successfully organised a bilateral meeting in August, Kampala had failed to do the same as agreed.
“The meeting in Kigali went well and there was supposed to be a meeting 30 days after that in Kampala but it did not happen. I am not fully knowledgeable about why it did not happen but after the October 16, we learnt that another date had been set.”
“The official communication suggested November 13. Then we got another indication it may be moved to November 18,” he added.
President Kagame said tension between their countries is due to Uganda’s support for Rwandan rebels and the detention without trial of Rwandans in Uganda.

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jkigongo@ug.nationmedia.com

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