Tensions escalate as Rwanda Temporarily Shuts Border with Uganda

Association

Rwanda has deployed its armed forces along the border with Uganda, further straining the already tense diplomatic relations between the two countries. Initially, the official reason given was that Rwanda was upgrading its one stop border post at Katuna border and advised drivers to use Chanika border post as an alternative, but the latter was blocked as well. Ugandan truck drivers have been warned by Rwandan officials to lock themselves in their trucks while in Rwanda for security reasons.

Rwandans have also been advised to desist travel to Uganda following safety concerns raised by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. According to reports, there have been over 40 cases of harassment and imprisonment of Rwandan nationals in Uganda with no consular access since January 2018. During this period, over 800 Rwandans have also been denied entry while others have allegedly been deported from Uganda. Rogers Donne Kayibanda, a 43-year old Rwandan, is the latest victim of alleged illegal detention and repeated harassment of Rwandans who travel to or through Uganda.

Peaceful Assembly

A year later, Rwanda is on the spot after the killing of Congolese refugees who protested cuts on subsistence allowance they had been receiving from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ office (UNHCR), demanding to be repatriated to DRC or relocated to a new country. While no official investigation has been published into the killing of protesters, a report by Amnesty International outlines how at least 63 refugees are facing charges in connection with the protests, ranging from ‘participating in and organising illegal demonstrations’ to ‘spreading false information with intent to create a hostile international opinion against the Rwandan government’. They are also charged with ‘violence against public authorities,' while the officers responsible for the killings which left at least 11 refugees dead remain free.

Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes said:

"Instead of accusing refugees of tarnishing the image of Rwanda, the authorities should investigate how 11 refugees ended up dead during a protest manned by police officers".