Sunday, July 07, 2013

Fate of five Ugandans arrested in DR Congo hangs in balance

By Isaac Imaka, The Daily Monitor,
Monday, July 8, 2013
The fate of five Ugandans, including two police officers arrested by the Congolese government remains uncertain as officials in Kampala seem to be playing hide-and-seek. 
According to Ms Immaculate Businge, a sister to one of the three victims from Kaiso Tonya Fishing Village on Lake Albert in Hoima District, the trio was employed by Mr Steven Rwakisherara to patrol the lake for illegal fishing.
“They were arrested by the DRC police, which accused them of crossing into the DRC waters and since then we have never seen them,” Ms Businge said, adding that Mr Rwakisherara had since disappeared. 
Ms Businge’s claims were confirmed by Kaiso Tonya’s LC1 Chairperson Henry Irumba, who said the RDC had never briefed them on the matter and never answers their phone calls, although she had promised to get back to them with updates.
When asked about the matter, the Hoima RDC, Ms Jeane Kaliba, and the Minister for Fisheries, Ms Ruth Nankabirwa, confirmed the incident but passed the matter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “since the issue involves two countries.”
“We have been handling the matter and a communication was sent to the Office of the Presidency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was already aware and so the matter is no longer in our hands,” Ms Kaliba said, refuting claims that she does not talk to relatives of the victims.
Police Spokesperson Judith Nabakooba pushed the matter to the chief of Interpol, Mr Asan Kasingye, who said the matter had now degenerated into an issue of national security.
Mr Kasingye said although Interpol Uganda communicated to their DRC counterparts, nothing had been forthcoming albeit Congo Interpol promises to handle the issue expeditiously. “We received a letter from the commissioner General of police, who said it is not him supposed to handle that matter but some people in eastern Congo. Now the matter is degenerating to an army officer, who was arrested in Kampala and the eastern Congo security officers say they will not release the five Ugandans unless the arrested soldier is released by Uganda,” he said. He added that the matter was now beyond Interpol and was in the hands of the diplomatic core.
The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr James Mugume, said the issue was being handled under the Ngurdoto Agreement. “I don’t have the latest information on that. But I will try to find out and know how far they have gone by tomorrow (today) afternoon,” Mr Mugume said.
Dr Stephen Kagoda, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the docket in-charge of Homeland security, said he did not know the latest on the arrested five.
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