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May 19, 2024
Kampala Daily

Parliament Probes Government Mistreatment Of Banyarwanda Community

The Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, has directed the Committee on Defense and Internal Affairs to scrutinise the petition of the Banyarwanda community in Uganda alleging marginalisation by the government.

Signed by five members of the Council of Abavandimwe, a duly registered association of Banyarwanda Community in Uganda, the petition was presented on the floor of Parliament by Kalungu West legislator Joseph Ssewungu. The Council of Abavandimwe is led by activist Frank Gashumba.

“This petition is referred to the Committee on Defense and Internal Affairs and report back in 45 days,” said the Speaker.

According to the Third Schedule of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, the Banyarwanda was number 24 on the list of tribes in Uganda. However, in their petition, the Banyarwanda community made several allegations about how they are being treated within Uganda.

“Your humble petitioners pray that a relevant Committee of Parliament investigates the segregation and violation of the rights of the Ugandan Banyarwanda in Uganda and make a report,” reads part of the petition.

They also want Parliament to urge the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs through the Directorate of Immigration to issue National Identity Cards and passports to the Ugandan Banyarwanda as a recognised tribe.

The petitioners who were in the House gallery as the petition was being presented, allege that those who already had passports and they expired while abroad, have failed to access services for renewal.

“Uganda Banyarwanda have returned from abroad for either study or work to renew their passports, acquire or renew their national identity cards and have been told that they do not qualify to be Ugandan passport or national identity card holders; at times this has led to loss of jobs or study opportunities for these persons,” stated Ssewungu.

It is also alleged that some of the Banyarwanda community have seen their passports confiscated, hence an infringement on their human rights, leading to pain and psychological torture. They also allege that because of these injustices, many of their youths have been denied employment opportunities in and outside the country because of not possessing the legal documents of Ugandans.

“The Ugandan Banyarwanda have not only been denied employment opportunities, but they are unable to open bank accounts, register companies, register phone lines in their names, which is denying them a right of livelihood and also costing the country revenue from the foreign remittances,” added part of the petition.

Also to be probed by the Committee is the allegation that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through its missions abroad, has not been of help to these community members who are stranded abroad after their travel documents expire. One of the roles of the Ugandan missions abroad is to facilitate the renewal of passports for the nationals when they expire, and in any case of distress, they have the mandate to coordinate their repatriation.

The petition comes when the Maragoli Community in Kiryandongo District is pushing for the amendment of the Constitution to be listed among the tribes of Uganda, having lived in the country for several decades, even before the promulgation of the Constitution in 1995. Though indigenous, the Bakyingwe and Bagabo tribes in Kasese District have also been demanding to be listed in the Third Schedule of the Constitution among the tribes of Uganda.

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