At around 6pm on Monday, September 27, 2021, 14 Rwandans, including four men, four women and six children, were dumped by Ugandan authorities at Kagitumba One Stop-Border Post, after they were transferred from Nyabuhikye Prison in Ibanda District, Western Uganda.
Some of the deported individuals were living and working in Uganda legally, having crossed to Uganda legally through the official border points including Cyanika, Gatuna and Kagitumba, at different times, to work in Uganda as East African citizens.
Nyirarukundo Venancia, 34, from Rusizi district, Nkombo sector and Murekatete Ernestine, 35, also from Nkombo went to Uganda in 2016 via Cyanika border post to Kalangala district where Nyirarukundo has relatives who engage in fishing activities.
On September 3, the duo was returning to Rwanda to check on relatives when they were intercepted by the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) in the western district of Mbarara.
They were taken to Mbarara Police Station where they were detained for five days and later sentenced by the court to 21 days in prison for illegal entry and residence in Uganda.
“They accused me of going there illegally and crossing the border illegally. I tried to show them evidence that I legally entered the country in vain. I was imprisoned with my four children, including a one-year-old,” says Nyirarukundo.
Nyirarukundo said that the deportation has separated her with her husband who she doesn’t know how they will meet again.
Maniraguha Daniel, 49, from Kirehe district, went to Uganda in 2013 using Gatuna border. While in Uganda, he worked in agriculture and animal husbandry.
Like Nyirarukundo and Murekatete, Maniraguha was intercepted by the military on September 3 on his way back to Rwanda
He said he was arrested and taken to Mbarara Police Station along with his wife and three children, the youngest being two years. They were sentenced to 21 days in prison and held Nyabuhikye Prison before they were deported.
“They arrested us saying that we had come to Uganda illegally through porous borders, which wasn’t true. In prison men engage in forced labour in the fields of the army and women went were made to prepare flour,”
“We worked all day in difficult conditions. Those who would slow down would be beaten under their feet or have their feet stepped on,” Maniraguha said.
The detainees said they were robbed of their money and valuables upon arrest. Munyentwari Jean Baptiste, a resident of Gasabo, said he was arrested by UPDF on September 16, in the western Uganda district of Kazo.
Munyentwari, who had been working and living in Mubende district since 2017 said he was robbed of Ugx2.8m which he had before he was transferred to Mbarara Police station.
Upon arrival at Kagitumba, the deportees were all tested of Covid-19 before they were transferred to IPRC Nyagatare Campus for quarantining.
Majority of the deported individuals said they were tortured during detention and traumatised by the life-threatening conditions in which they were held.