A Rwandan teacher, Venant Hakorimana has filed a lawsuit at the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) against the government of Uganda.
Hakorimana claims to have been illegally arrested in Uganda and severally tortured during his 10 months in detention, while bail was granted after nine months at about $266.
“I was working in Ethiopia as a teacher for Applied Biology. I was detained in Uganda in July last year where I had gone to visit and check on my property in Mbarara District,” he said.
The plaintiff, who is demanding $1 million for damages, filed the case in Kigali through lawyer Richard Mugisha under reference Number 11 of 2019 in the EACJ first instance division.
This will not be the first case brought before the EACJ over Uganda’s confinement of citizens of Rwanda. Virunga Post reports cases of three other Rwandan nationals who have been subjected to imprisonment and other forms of harassment by Ugandan authorities. Although it will be almost impossible to predict the aftermath of the increasing lawsuits, for months now, both states have shown bad blood towards each other. Diplomatic relations between the neighbours have been strained over several issues ranging from border closure to trade rift, with the citizens bearing the most consequence.
In February, Rwanda closed its Katuna border, a move which some described as a culmination of rising animosity for a few years. The Katuna border is one of the busiest borders promoting trade between both East African countries. A closure had a resultant effect on businesses and the flow of revenue.
Meanwhile, Uganda accused Rwanda of planting spies in its security system, an issue that led to the arrest of Kale Kayihura, Uganda’s former Inspector General of Police who was accused of being President Kagame’s loyalist.
Both Presidents have even been reported to use war words at each other, “No one can bring me to my knees,” President Kagame said, with his Ugandan counterpart, Yoweri Museveni retorting, “Once we mobilise, you can’t survive.”
This fractured relationship has continued to grow and does not look like it will end soon. It is hoped that efforts by the East African Community (EAC) can restore peace to both states, and also curb the impact of this rift on its citizens.