UN Tasks Uganda To Investigate Attack On Rwandan Refugees

The Representative of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Uganda has asked the government of Uganda to investigate the alleged kidnap of a former bodyguard to the Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

Mohammed Abdi Adar told local media on Friday that they have requested the government to investigate circumstances under which Lt Joel Mutabazi and two other Rwandan asylum-seekers were suspiciously abducted with possible knowledge of the Ugandan Police.

Adar says though Mutabazi was rescued, two other Rwandans are still missing and the Uganda government should tell the world where the security organs were at the time of their abduction and who is responsible for them in order to kill the impunity surrounding the haunting of Rwandan asylum seekers in Uganda.

Lt Joel Mutabazi (in checked shirt) plays soccer with his former boss President Paul Kagame.
Lt Joel Mutabazi (in checked shirt) plays soccer with his former boss President Paul Kagame.

He declined to disclose their identity citing security concerns, but earlier reports show one of those missing is Innocent Kaliisa, also a former soldier in the Rwandan army, who went missing from his safe house in Kampala last week.

Lt. Joel Mutabazi, a former bodyguard of Kagame for 20 years, was allegedly kidnapped from a hotel in Kyaliwajala near Kampala.  His kidnappers were described by onlookers as five armed men driving a white Ipsum registration Number UAK 551B.

A day later on Wednesday, police issued a statement saying they had received an Interpol arrest warrant from Rwanda requesting for Mutabazi to be extradited to Rwanda over charges of bank robbery. This statement contradicted earlier comments made by the police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba saying police had received information of an alleged kidnap in Kawempe and were following up on it with investigation.

Mutabazi was released from Jinja road police station where he had been held and handed over to the Office of the Prime Minister from where he was transferred to another safe house under UNHCR protection.

The UNHCR representative declined to disclose the location citing security concerns but said the government of Uganda is directly responsible for his security. He says UNHCR can only provide technical support to a host government in helping it achieve international obligations.

Plans are underway to find another country for Mutabazi to relocate. Mohammed Adar says UNHCR has approached partner countries and they are currently reviewing Mutabazi’s asylum eligibility status before he can be transferred.

The 35 year old soldier was also linked to ‘subversive activities’ by the Kigali intelligence services in 2011. He was then detained for 17 months and managed to escape and get asylum in Uganda where he has lived for the past more than two years. He survived an attack when unknown assailants attacked his home in Kasangati. He was then placed under UNHCR protection with two stand-by police officers and until recently he has been living at UNIK hotel in Kyaliwajala.

The UNHCR representative in Uganda says there are no facilities safe enough to protect key asylum targets in Uganda. He says the only options at UNHCR’s disposal are Hotel rooms and residential homes which are also determined by the host government which handles most of the security detail.

Charles Ingabire, a former editor of Inyenyeri news, a Rwandan online news agency was gunned down in Kampala in December 2011 while under UNHCR protection. Investigations into his murder are still on-going according the Ugandan police, though the UNHCR says they have not been updated on how far the investigations have gone.

UNHCR now wants police to investigate the alleged kidnap of Mutabazi, the disappearance of Kaliisa and one other unidentified Rwandan and the murder of Ingabire and bring the suspects to book.

There are currently an estimated 14,000 Rwandan refugees living in Uganda today.

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