Rwanda + 1 more

Rwanda, Uganda sign extradition treaty as Kampala denies asylum to 1,000

by John Bayingana and James Munyaneza

Kigali, Jul 17, 2005 --Rwanda and Uganda last Friday went a step further in burying their diplomatic hatchet, when the two countries signed an extradition treaty that will enable both countries deport each others' nationals fleeing from justice.

Rwandan Foreign Minister Dr. Charles Muriganda and his Ugandan counterpart Sam Kutesa, signed the deal in Kampala after the Sixth Meeting of the Permanent Commission that seek to improve relations between the former arch allies.

Local Government Minister, Protais Musoni expressed confidence that necessary mechanisms would follow suit to make the treaty applicable.

"Its true that the process should have been done sometime back but , now that we have agreed on it, what remains is just to go through normal parliamentary procedures," he said.

Musoni also noted that the treaty has been in existence but only limited to an array of crimes. He said the new agreement covers genocide crimes, which would make it easy to ensure that fugitives fleeing prosecution over the 1994 Genocide crimes are deported by Kampala.

The meeting also focused on good governance, security, asylum seekers on both sides, communication, education, infrastructure and environmental hazards.

Meanwhile, last week the Ugandan government refused to grant refugee status to over 1000 Rwandan asylum seekers, who fled to Uganda since last April for fears of prosecution over genocide crimes in the ongoing Gacaca courts.

Uganda said most of asylum-seekers did not have requisite reasons to qualify for the asylum, and gave them 90 days to appeal the decision by the Uganda Commission for Refugees.

Most of these 'refugees' are reported to be sheltered around Nakivale refugee camp in Mbarara district, western Uganda.

But reports indicate that the Uganda Refugee Eligibility Committee had found only 80 of the asylum-seekers, eligible.