Kisoro, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Up to 35 people, among them 32 Rwandan and three nationals of the Democratic Republic of Congo have been deported this afternoon.
Those deported were arrested earlier in a joint security operation involving the army and Police in the areas of Russia, MuLine and Karumena in Kisoro district in the wee hours of Monday morning. The operation netted more than 200 people, some of who did not have any identification document.
After a screening exercise, most of them were released, while 39 of them, who were found to have entered Uganda illegally were arraigned before Kisoro Grade One Magistrate, Raphael Vueni, on Tuesday and were charged with illegal entry into the country.
Three Rwandan suspects and a DRC national pleaded not guilty to the charges and were remanded to Kisoro Government Prison until December 18, 2019. The remaining 35 suspects pleaded guilty and asked for a pardon.
Magistrate Vueni remanded them to prison until today, Wednesday. Upon their appearance, the magistrate ordered Ugandan security and immigration teams to deport them to their respective countries saying that they should have followed proper procedures, to stay in Uganda. Shortly after the decision, the 35 were whisked to Chanika and Bunagana border posts, where their deportation documents were processed.
However, Rwanda’s New Times publication, on Tuesday reported that the operation was targeting Rwandans. According to the New Times, the suspects were gathered in one place, screened and then bundled onto garbage trucks which drove them to Kisoro police station. The New Times also claimed that some of those arrested were found to be DRC or Tanzanian nationals, who were subsequently set free.
But, Captain Peter Mugisha, the Kisoro Resident District Commissioner says that the operation is aimed at reducing rampant cases of murder, rape, robbery and theft among others in Kisoro district. According to Mugisha, residents had resorted to mob justice while accusing security agencies of failing to identify suspected criminals.
Uganda and Rwanda have been at loggerheads since the beginning of this year when the Kigali administration closed the one-stop border post at Gatuna and advised trucks from Uganda to only enter Rwanda through the Kagitumba-Mirama Hills post in Ntungamo district.
But days after the closure, Rwandan officials accused Uganda of illegally detaining Rwandans. They also advised their nationals against entering into Uganda on grounds that their safety could not be guaranteed. Efforts to end the standoff have so far yielded no positive results.