Despite recent progress on implementation of Heads of State decisions, there are still activities of terrorist groups operating in Uganda whose primary mission is to destabilise Rwanda, Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Vincent Biruta has stressed.
Biruta said this as senior Rwandan and Ugandan officials started a video conference on Thursday, June 4, as both countries continue to work on normalising relations.
This is the fourth Ad Hoc Commission meeting.
Biruta said: “For instance, outfits of that Self-Worth Initiative still operate RNC cells in Uganda. This goes against the Government of Uganda’s previous commitment to disbanding the activities of this criminal organization.”
“There is a trend of on-going mobilization activities in different parts of Uganda to support RNC and other different negative forces that continue to receive the support from Uganda’s Security Organs.”
The meeting chaired by Sam Kutesa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uganda, was also attended by Tete Antonio, Minister of External Relations of Angola, and Gilbert Kankonde Malamba, DR Congo’s Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Interior, Security and Customary Affairs.
Angola and the DR Congo are facilitators in the ongoing process to normalize the relations between Rwanda and Uganda.
Kutesa convened the meeting via video conference due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has made it difficult to physically meet.
Biruta noted that the harassment and persecution of Rwandan nationals in Uganda continue to grow and the Government of Uganda seems to keep denying its role “in these regrettable acts.”
For example, Biruta said, on May 18, two Rwandan women were handed over at the border with Uganda after being severely beaten by Ugandan security operatives while on their way back.
“Additionally, Rwandans reported being detained at security detention centers continue to be denied consular visits and are not produced before any courts of law to stand trial.”
He said that the continuous aggressive media propaganda against the Government of Rwanda by different media outlets in Uganda including some that are reportedly state-owned Media outlets is still ongoing.
Early this year, during the third Ad Hoc commission meeting, both parties committed to protect and respect human rights of nationals of either party. At the time, Kigali requested for investigations into the death of some Rwandan nationals.
Biruta said: “To this day, we are yet to receive convincing responses for some of those cases. In addition, both parties committed to further verify the number of detained nationals of either party in each other’s country and to report through a Note Verbal in three weeks’ time.
“Rwanda fully played its part and communicated through diplomatic channels a list of Ugandans legally detained in Rwanda. Unfortunately, until now, we are yet to receive the same communication on Rwandans legally or illegally detained in Uganda.”
Rwanda also formally wrote to Uganda notifying the latter about specific issues related to the activities carried out by Rwandan rebel groups on Ugandan territory.
Up to this day, Biruta said, there is no tangible response or clarifications provided from the Ugandan side on the efforts to verify the allegations presented by Rwanda.
Concluding his opening remarks, Biruta noted that it is “our desire therefore that,” this fourth meeting of the Ad Hoc Commission will be oriented towards lasting solutions, to address the “issues that we have raised repeatedly.”
Kutesa said that his government in March deregistered the Self-Worth Initiative.
He listed a number of allegations against Rwanda; noting names of Ugandans detained incommunicado in Rwanda, and accused Rwandan security agencies of killing Ugandans along the common border, among others.
Kutesa said: “We are concerned and called for the investigations on the murder of our people but this has not happened.”
He also said that Kigali has maintained an illegal embargo on trade to date, something Kampala wants to end.
130 Rwandans to be released, 310 to remain in detention
On another note, Kutesa told the meeting that last month, up to 130 Rwandans detained in Uganda were set free and are now being processed to be returned home.
On Monday and Tuesday, he said, these Rwandans should be able to be handed over to Rwanda at the Cyanika and Mirama hills border posts.
However, Kutesa said, 310 other Rwandans who he said committed capital offences remain in custody and their details will be shared with Rwanda.