Family petitions UN over Rwandan national detained by army

The family of Rene Rutagungira, a Rwandan national detained at the Makindye military barracks has petitioned the United Nations seeking redress over violations of his freedoms by the army.

Rutagungira was last year charged together with eight other senior police officers by the General Court Martial over kidnap and repatriation of Lt. Joel Joel Mutabazi, a former bodyguard to Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.

Through lawyers from Kiiza and Mugisha advocates, the family in a May 9, letter to the UN country representative of Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rutagungira says he tortured during his arrest by soldiers from the Chieftaincy of Military Investigations (CMI) on August 6, 2017 from Bahamas bar in Kampala.

“The military(CMI) physically and mentally tortured him employing such techniques as beatings, blindfolding, electric shocks, water immersion, solitary confinement and death threats and other torture methods,” says the letter by Eron Kiiza on behalf of the family copied to the Attorney General and the Chief of Defence forces in the UPDF.

“We therefore invite your good offices to take solid interest and strongly intervene in the matter so that you firmly demand an end to the said torture and other human rights violation against Rene Rutagungira.”

The family has also called for a more serious engagement between Rwandan and Ugandan authorities at the highest level to resolve the tension that underlies the spate of arrests, detention and deportations of Rwandan nationals.

According to the prosecution at the army court on October 25, 2013 at Kammengo, in Mpigi district along Masaka road, the accused using a pistol and grenades abducted Lt. Joel Mutabazi and Jackson Kalemera  whom they took  back to Rwanda without their knowledge contrary to the Penal Code Act.

Prosecution also alleges that the accused are people subject to military law for using weapons (pistol and grenade) which are ordinarily a monopoly of the army according to the UPDF Act 2005.

In March, Presidents Museveni and Kagame met and discussed the issue of espionage on both countries and the arrests of Rwandan nationals.

“We discussed that issue .The answer to that is close cooperation between intelligence services so that they get facts on each case,” Museveni told journalists at Entebbe state house when asked about the espionage and arrest claims by both countries.

“There has been not enough coordination not only for intelligence side but even on development side like the railway and electricity. It seems people don’t use phones,” he added.

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