Africa News

Rwanda deports more Ugandans in Less than a week, says they’re prohibited immigrants

Rwandan President Paul Kagame (COURTESY PHOTO)

KIGALI: Authorities in Rwanda have yet again deported two more Ugandans under unclear circumstances in a period of less than a week.

The two individuals both residents of Kabale district who have been working in Rwanda are Byamukama Alex born on May 20, 1994 and Himbisa Dancan born on July 31, 1995.

The notification of deportation dated June 10, 2021 on the letterhead of Rwanda’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) seen by this news website, declared the two Ugandans as prohibited immigrants in Rwanda.

“Take note that you are declared as prohibited immigrants in Republic of Rwanda within the meaning of Articles 12 and 15 of the law no. 57/2018 of 13/08/2018 on Immigration and Emigration of Rwanda,” wrote Bernard Kanyehara, the DIO of Gicombe on behalf of François Regis Gatarahiya, the Director General of Rwanda’s Immigration and Emigration.

Both Byamukama and Himbisa told SoftPower News that they had no clue to why they were deported but said the situation in Rwanda was tense.

“We were arrested by Rwanda security and told that we were no longer welcome in Rwanda,” one of them said.

Adding that “for a Ugandan to comfortably work in Rwanda, you are required to speak ill of the Uganda government and President Museveni.”

“If you don’t cooperate, fictions charges such as rape or engagement in corruption are preferred against you and you are arrested. If you are lucky, you get deported.”

On Tuesday this week, Rwanda deported four Ugandan teachers on allegations of attempting to illegally exit Rwanda through porous routes.

The deported teachers are Balikitenda Alex, 29, Ssenono Abdul Mutwarib, 31, Naturinda Jethro, 41 and Nalumenya Samuel, 45. Prior to their deportation, the teachers were first arrested and detained at Rwenzamenyo-Nyamirambo main detention facility in Kigali.

Speaking to this news website, one of the teachers said after their arrest, authorities cancelled their valid work permits and declared them prohibited immigrants in Rwanda.

He however refuted the narrative by Rwandan authorities of them attempting to exit using porous routes.

“I did not in anyway try to move to Uganda at the time of the arrest, I did not. I was picked from home and I am surprised they say I was using porous routes to cross,” explains one of the teachers.

“May be Kigali is no longer interested in seeing Ugandans work in Rwanda. I have been to and working in Rwanda for a couple of years and such has never happened, why do it now?” he asked.

The other three also denied having tried to come back to Uganda when they were arrested saying they were picked by security while doing their personal business with in Rwanda.

In April, the small East African country declared as illegal, Ugandans seeking work in their country at the time when they deported two female Ugandan nationals Birungi Monique, 25 and Kansiime Lillian, 26, both residents of Nyarutuntu Subcounty in Ntungamo district.

The duo was dumped at Katuna border post with a deportation note referring to them as prohibited immigrants.

“I thought just as many Rwandans live and work in Uganda, I could also work in Rwanda but I was arrested. I am happy to be free from Rwanda security and to be back home,” Kansiime Lillian said when contacted by SoftPower News.

Kigali’s motive in deporting Ugandans from Rwanda is unknown since it violates several treaties and agreements ratified by East African Community Member States that provide for free movement of persons, labor and services amongst themselves.

Rwandan authorities have in the past shot dead dozens of Ugandan traders who travel to their country for trade and visiting relatives. Many of these Ugandans are falsely accused of being smugglers. They have also shot Ugandan nationals within Uganda.

In January this year, a Ugandan, Teojen Ndagijimana, aged 26, was shot dead by Rwandan Defence force (RDF) in Kumugu Trading Centre in Musanze District inside Rwanda, about three kilometres from the Uganda border.

Other Ugandans who have been shot dead by Rwandan forces are Alex Nyesiga, 32, who was killed in May last year together with a Rwandan national as they entered Rwanda from Uganda.

On November 9, two other Ugandans Job Ebyarishanga and Bosco Tuheirwe, both residents of Rukiga District near the border, were shot dead about 1km inside Rwanda. Rwanda police later claimed the deceased were smuggling raw tobacco into the country.

The killed Ugandans and Rwandans are never tried by any Rwandan court of law but shot at.

The deportations are happening amid the ongoing efforts to mend the relations between Kampala and Uganda.

Relations between the two countries became frosty in February 2019 when Rwanda unilaterally closed its border with Uganda at Katuna in February last year, stopping movement of goods and people from either country. Goods perished as cargo trucks whose drivers and proprietors were unaware of the developments queued up on the Ugandan side of the border.

Rwanda at the time claimed the closure was due to ongoing construction. President Kagame later said while communication had been made that he closed the border due to construction, the reasons were political.

He would later bar Rwandan nationals from crossing to Uganda by road through Katuna border citing mistreatment in Uganda.

However, Rwandans who travel to Uganda by air from Kigali through Uganda’s Entebbe aiport are not stopped by the Rwandan authorities.

Ugandan authorities on the other hand said that while Rwandans are welcome to Uganda as always, the country will not tolerate comprising of its national security.

A number of Rwandans were arrested inside the territory of Uganda and charged for kidnapping Rwandan refugees and asylum seekers and illegally repatriating them to Rwanda, among other security related charges.

Uganda hosts more than one million refugees including Rwandan refugees who have over the recent years left the country in thousands.

Uganda’s open-door policy to refugees is hailed by the United Nations (UN) as the most progressive in the world.

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