A Dutch lawyer Caroline Buisman who claims to be an attorney to jailed politician Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire was asked to leave Rwanda last week by immigration officials. As KT Press reports, she was in the country for a different purpose, but then opted to visit Ingabire.
A chronology of events provided by the Rwanda Directorate General of immigration and Emigration shows that Buisman arrived in Rwanda as a tourist on May 9.
The flow of events fits exactly with her version to the media. Buisman obtained the tourist visa from Kenya, NOT Rwanda.
In a confession statement to immigration officials seen by KT Press, Buisman writes that she acknowledges having a tourist visa and regrets engaging in other activities contrary to her stay.
About a week after arriving in Rwanda, Buisman surfaced at the Kigali Central Prison commonly known as “1930”, asking to see Ingabire. Prison officials declined her request – asking her to find proper documentation.
Ingabire Victoire is serving 15-year sentence handed by the Supreme Court in December 2013. Court found Ingabire guilty of spreading rumours with an intention to incite the public to rise up against the State, endangering state security and minimising the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
“The decision [not to allow her see Ingabire] was not a pretext to deny her access to her client as Ms Buisman claims,” said Yves Butera, a spokesman of the immigration office.
“…she should have applied for the appropriate visa, accepted or denied instead of knowingly breaking the laws on the pretext of serving her client. It is instead Ms Buisman who is looking for excuses of violating the laws.”
For our readers to have first hand understanding of Caroline Buisman’s case, KT Press is hereunder providing a detailed chronology of events leading to her expulsion from Rwanda.
- Buisman Caroline arrived in Rwanda on May 9, 2016 using East Africa Tourist Visa obtained in Kenya at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. She was therefore allowed entry into Rwanda as a tourist in accordance with the type of visa she was holding. The East Africa Tourist Visa is issued for purpose of tourism only to visit the three countries; Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. It can be obtained from any of the three countries.
- May 16: Buisman attempted to visit Ingabire Victoire at the Kigali central Prison, claiming the tourism visit was part of her work as a counsel of Ingabire Victoire and not a social visit. Prison officials requested her to get proper clearance to carry out such an activity in an appropriate environment as the existing Rwanda Correctional Services regulations provide.
- The next day on May 17, the Netherlands Embassy in Kigali, sent a verbal note to the Rwandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation requesting permission for Caroline Buisman to visit Ingabire in 1930 Prison.
- May 18, 2016: She was interviewed by immigration officers about her case. When asked about her status in relation to what she was doing, Buisman acknowledged (in writing) to have violated immigration laws by engaging in other activities while holding a tourist visa. KT Press has seen the confession statement with her signature on it.
- Buisman was asked to leave Rwanda following the meeting with immigration officers. She left the country on May 19 2016.
- Over the weekend, she surfaces in the media with claims that what the immigration office says is completely inaccurate.
So what do immigration regulations provide? In such circumstances when a person is found to be engaged in activities contrary to the purpose of his/her visa, then the visa is cancelled and is requested to leave the country.
“This is a common practice all over the World,” said Butera.
“…it was neither targeted to Ms Buisman as an individual nor as a lawyer of Mrs Ingabire Victoire as various media outlets are portraying it.”
He added, “She was not threatened by anybody at any time during her 10 days stay in the country.”