Special Forces Group (SFG) denied any knowledge about claims that its commander, Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba has a hand in numerous kidnaps, disappearances, killings and quick illegal extraditions of United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) satisfied Rwandan Refugees from several parts of Uganda.
“The allegations that Brig. Muhoozi Kaineruga masterminds the kidnaps and extraditions of Rwandan refugees are just fabrications,” said, SFG Spokesman, Maj. Chris Magezi, adding: “Any attempt to link Brig. Kainerugaba, is completely baseless and has no grounds. There are no linkages whatsoever.”
SFG denial follows allegations by Uganda-based Rwandan refugees who have gone under ground that Brig. Muhoozi has a hand in unexplained and unaccounted for kidnaps; disappearances; killings and illegal extradition of Rwandan refugees from Uganda back to the country where they face persecution.
The refugees, who abandoned their known residences, also hold responsible the United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) for doing little to pressuring the Uganda government to do more and provide enough protection. Refugees claim that top Ugandan officials connive to “facilitate” and “protect” Rwanda security agents whilst terrorizing, kidnapping or killing the refugees in some extreme circumstances. Charles Ingabire, in December 2011, was shot and killed by unknown assailants; he was an editor of an online magazine.
Another Rwandan refugee, Sergeant Dominic Sabagasani, was killed in Kampala, both murder remain unresolved.
But Maj. Chris Magezi, reiterated that: “SFG Commander, Brig. Muhoozi provides no assistance to the kidnaps and illegal deportations of Rwandan refuges.”
However, Maj. Magezi, the SFG spokesman, acknowledged that: “There might have been issues of kidnappings of the Rwandan refugees and so on… but any attempt to link Brig. Muhoozi Kainerugaba is completely unfounded and adds no grounds or basis at all.”
In a Thursday, March 13, exclusive telephone interview with this newspaper, Maj. Magezi, a UPF officer attached to the SFG who is also the group’s spokesman said: “Brigadier Muhoozi, is a senior serving officer in the UPDF. He can therefore, not be held responsible for the activities and work of another force. In this case, the Uganda Police Forces.”
“There is no linkage whatsoever, between the work the police does and Brig. Muhoozi Kainerugaba,” said Maj. Magezi, adding that: “The police forces have their methods of work, Brig. Muhoozi Kainerugaba is a military officer, so the two are not linked at all.”
“If there are questions to be answered in the manner, the Rwandan refugees have been extradited or their disappearances and so on; really is an area and responsibility of the Uganda Police Forces,” said, the SFG spokesman. He added: “And if there’re any questions to answer; the Uganda Police Forces should attend to them.”
“We [SFG] cannot answer the actions for the police. These are questions for the police to answer. Not UPDF or Brig. Muhoozi Kaineruga in this instance,” said the UPDF major. “Completely, there is no iota of truth in those allegations,” he added.
Commenting on the disappearance of a Uganda Radio Network (URN), journalist, Tom Malaba, who uncovered the kidnap of Lt Joel Mutabazi, a former member of President Paul Kagame’s elite Protection Unit Force; Maj. Magezi, said; “I think the police is handling the issue, they [police] are better to attend to that issue.”
The SFG Commander, Brig. Kainerugaba is the First Son of Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni. The group [SFG] is an elite force within the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF), and it’s responsible for the protection of the president; VIPs and all major installations in the country, including the oil fields and other strategic places.
Numerous allegations from different sources claim that Rwanda’s Ambassador to Uganda, Maj. Gen. Frank Mugambage, coordinates a “Hit Squad”, which carries out the kidnaps; abductions and the quick illegal deportation of the Rwandan refugees, whilst being facilitated by high-ranking officers in Uganda Police who are protected by SFG Commander Brig. Muhoozi Keinarugaba, a son to Ugandan leader Museveni. The allegations that Rwandan security agents; aided by the SFG Commander, Brig. Muhoozi and carryout the kidnaps without any fear.
News of kidnapping of Rwandan refugees first came into public domain during the Lt. Mutabazi’s Entebbe incident. It was the intervention of the government and UNHCR that Lt. Mutabazi was rescued, although, he was later successfully kidnapped and extradited to Rwanda, where he remains in prison.
The investigations into the Lt. Mutabazi -Entebbe incident never got to the conclusion. Journalists who have tried to write follow-up stories are intimidated to back off; blackmailed or disappeared. According to the January 28, 2014; Human Rights Watch report, in Uganda and Rwanda, journalists reporting about attacks on Rwandan refugees, are intimidated or blackmailed.
There are fears that a Ugandan journalist, who has extensively covered and exposed several kidnaps of Rwandan refugees from different parts of Kampala, himself, reported missing. Fears gripped the family and friends of Tom Malaba when he failed to return home on Saturday, March 8.
The URN journalist, Malaba, who exposed the October 25, 2013, Entebbe International Airport incident in which Lt Mutabazi, a former member of President Kagame’s protection Unit force, was abducted by agents of the government of Uganda and handed over to the Government of Rwanda. Mutabazi had fled Rwanda into exile to Uganda in 2011. Embarrassingly, the Uganda police then claimed they had received an Interpol warrant of arrest. Though, the UNHCR in Kampala issued a strong protest to the government of Uganda about issues regarding the kidnappings and the attempted assassination of Rwandan refugees and asylum seekers in the country, Lt. Mutabazi was again kidnapped anyway and no action has ever been taken.
According to the January 28, 2014; Human Rights Watch report, many Rwandese initially flee to Uganda because of its proximity. However, UNHCR officials believe that Uganda has become one of the least safe countries for Rwandans facing political persecution because of the close links between the police and intelligence services of the two countries.
Many senior Rwandan officials, particularly those who grew up in Uganda served in the Ugandan security forces or intelligence services. Rwandese who formally served in NRA/UPDF they still hold close links in the country. Rwandan agents can therefore operate in Uganda with considerable ease.
Indeed Rwandan leader, Maj. Gen. Paul Kagame, served in the Uganda’s army as a military Intelligence Chief.
Gen. Kagame who is credited for stopping the genocide, his country’s human rights records slowly shrinking because of numerous assassinations; kidnaps of his opponents; journalists including his former allies.
Though; under Geneva conventions to which both Uganda and Rwanda are signatories; which entitle refugees to get protection from hosting states; Rwanda refugees seem not catered for as they are being summarily abducted from many parts of Uganda and extradited with the help of some official in Uganda without giving them access to full and fair asylum procedures.
Mr. Malaba who has covered the Rwandan kidnap issues since about 1996 shortly after the country’s genocide, might have been a victim of this woven web of sophisticated secret agents.
In addition the Lt. Mutabazi’s incident, Mr. Malaba had questioned Maj. Gen. Mugambage about the asylum seeker who had been attacked after they refused to enroll onto the M23 ranks.
In its January 28, 2014; report, UN Human Rights Watch reported: “The situation in Uganda is less clear, mainly because there has been a lack of transparency in the Ugandan authorities’ efforts to investigate and bring to justice perpetrators of attacks on Rwandans in Uganda.
Human Rights Watch is not aware of evidence that Ugandan government authorities have been officially or directly involved in particular incidents, though in at least one case, a high-ranking Ugandan police officer facilitated the forcible return of a Rwandan refugee from Uganda to Rwanda.
The UN Human Rights Watch report, however, says the longstanding personal relationships between some Ugandan and Rwandan officials may obstruct access to information about possible collusion to facilitate the commission of these crimes.”
Indeed the investigations into the murder of Charles Ingabire, who was shot and killed in Kampala, hit a dead end. Nobody has ever been charged or prosecuted for the murder and it remains a mystery.
“We have engaged the office of the Prime Minister. We have been discussing with the government of Uganda on all these issues,” said Ms Atsumi Sakura, UNHCR country representative, adding: “And we’ve been reminding how responsible for providing the international standard protection to any refugee with the government.”
Ms Sakura further said: “We’ve been reminding the Ugandan authority, especially the office of the Prime Minister, the refugees’ department to take all these allegations extremely serious.”
“We recently sent them [Ugandan authority] a reminder about the responsibilities to providing protection of all the refugees,” said Ms Sakura.
Commenting on the disappearance of Tom Malaba, Ms Sakura, said: “ I know Tom Malaba, but am not aware of his disappearance, I have to look around.”
“Tom is a Ugandan journalist, if am not mistaken. We don’t deal or follow Ugandan people, it is UN Human Rights Watch, “ said Ms Sakura.
Mr Malaba has been followed and according records provided by a police source indicates; there was a shoot-out in Tom’s compound in an attempt to his life, the incident was recorded as SD: Ref: 13/01/07/2013, at Nalumunye police station, Nsangi sub-county in Wakiso district 4 miles from the capital Kampala.
This newspaper has since established that; the January 2014, Human Rights Watch report was referring to the Commandant
Kampala Metropolitan Police, Andrew Felix Kaweesi, as the high-ranking Ugandan police officer that facilitated the forcible return of a Rwandan refugee from Uganda to Rwanda. Mr Kaweesi is believed to working under the directives of SFC Chief, Brig. Muhoozi a son to Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni. Kaweesi works directly under the office of Inspector General of Police, Gen. Edward Kale Kayihura.
According to Rwandan refugees in hiding, Joel Aguma together with Kaweesi work under Kayihura office, but they report direct to Brig. Muhoozi.
The refugees allege that Joel Aguma, a deputy director of crime intelligence, he arrested Mutabazi. Mr Aguma carried out the handing over the kidnapped refuges to Rwanda agents.
Rendering more credence; a police officer from Mr Kaweesi’s office who requested for concealment of his name due to the sensitivity of the material, he collaborated the Brig. Muhoozi-Andrew Kaweesi involvement in the. The officer also pointed the February 12, 2014, case involving one Martin Tumusiime, recorded at Kampala Central Police Station (CPS) as Ref. SD/72/12/2/14, a police source, confirmed a phone call, which he described as “order from above” instructing Mr. Kaweesi to handle the file. A police source claims that; though, the suspect [Martin Tumusiime] had gone for a more dangerous mission, police records were changed and recorded as “Threatening Violence,” on the Order from Above” according to a source. A police source further explained that: “Everybody here knows that Mr. Malaba, was under 24 hours surveillance by Rwanda security agents in Kampala, and had only managed to play cat-mouse game for a limited time.”
Initial efforts to speak to Mr Kaweesi had proved futile, as he could not answer his phones, until we sent him a text message to comment about allegations against him, that he [Kaweesi] ‘facilitate’ the kidnaps and disappearance of UNHCR satisfied Rwandan refugees.
Sounding furious and roaring like a wounded lion; Kaweesi rung back to attack this reporter and threatened in a typical ‘mafias’ language. “As an officer of Uganda Police force; I cannot be asked those bully questions,” said Mr Kaweesi, adding that: “I can’t answer such stupid questions.”
On condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter; another officer from the UNHCR office, who spoke to this reporter on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity the matter blamed Uganda government for failing to protect the refugees; particularly those from Rwanda. “It appears; there is a superpower in government who sanctions these kidnaps of the Refugees from Rwanda.”
“If there were no such things in all these kidnap issues, he/she who abets the kidnaps and engineers the quick extraditions of the genuine refugees to Rwanda, that individual would have been apprehended and made to account for the kidnaps,” said the UNHCR officer; adding that: “In the case of Joel Mutabazi we involved the government to intervened and rescued him at the airport, but he was again re-kidnapped despite our petition to the government. No one has even been made to account for the Entebbe Airport incident; though the officers who had aided the kidnap were named.”
The January 2014; report further says: “Ugandan journalists who have investigated or reported on security threats against Rwandans in Uganda have also raised concerns for their own security, particularly in 2013.”
Undeniably; the URN journalist, Malaba’s whereabouts remains a mystery to his family since there are numerous attempts on his life by Rwanda secret police operating in east Africa.
A source on the search mission to establish what happened to the URN, journalist, Malaba, who previously exposed several operations by Rwanda and Uganda security agents to either kill or kidnap the UNHCR satisfied refugees from Uganda, could himself be a victim of these unrestrained kidnaps.
According to the October 18, 2013, letter retrieved from the police files, which was stamped an acknowledgement of receipt 2 days later; Mr Malaba wrote to Commandant Kampala Metropolitan Police, Andrew Felix Kaweesi, outlining his trouble. In a letter also copied to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Malaba had explained that his trouble started following the questions he raised to Rwanda’s Ambassador to Uganda Maj. Gen. Frank Mugambage to clear the air over the 16 Rwandan students who escaped from Rwanda to avoid being recruited in the M23 ranks and had taken refuge at Old Kampala. Gen. Mugambage who had called a press conference on June 19, 2013, was uncomfortable with Mr Malaba’s question to which the general labelled him [Malaba] a disrespectful journalist asking the whole ambassador about the numerous assassinations and kidnaps of Rwandan refugees in Uganda.
At the June last year’s press conference, the URN journalist had asked, the Rwandan Ambassador, Gen. Gen. Mugambage to react to allegations that he was running a “Hit Squad” in Kampala that was kidnapping and killing Rwandan Asylum seekers.
According to a source who attended the June 2013 press conference; instead of reacting to Mr. Malaba’s questions; Gen. Mugambage took a standing position and said Malaba was disrespecting him, yet the general was protected by his Diplomatic Immunity, though he had told all the journalists ask anything about Rwanda.
It is alleged that Gen. Mugambage avoided the question and still went on furiously to talk more about his Diplomatic Immunity. Information obtained by this newspaper; confirmed at that; the general instructed his staff to find out where Mr Malaba contacts and his employers at the URN were given a warning.
Malaba’s friends; now wonder whether his disappearance was the same Rwanda’s “Hit Squad”; which allegedly responsible for the assassination of Charles Ingabire the Rwandan Editor of Inyenyeri News an on- line and newspaper or just Kampala common criminals are responsible?
The June 30, 2013, incident recorded as SD: Ref: 13/01/07/2013 Mr. Malaba survived the shoot-out that happened in his compound during the late hours of the night.
In recent years; Rwanda operates an alleged million-dollar project to put out of action or completely eliminate the opponents of Kigali regime around the world.
Kigali secret agents go beyond their jurisdictions when it comes to hunting down of Rwanda refugees considered to be state enemies. In 2011, the UK’s Scotland Yard and MI5 both stepped up and warned some members of opposition Rwanda group living in the country about imminent attacks on them by agents of the Rwanda government. Whilst the MI5 explicitly delivered a message to Rwanda’s High Commissioner to the UK, Ernest Rwamucyo to stop alleged campaigns of harassment against President Kagame’s critics living in the UK.
Elsewhere, since July 2010; former Chief of Staff and Rwanda’s ambassador to India; Gen. Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa has survived three assassination attempt in South Africa but sustained gun shot wounds. Gen. Kanyumba’s colleague; and a former Rwanda spymaster Patrick Karegeya, was assassinated on the New Year’s Day in Johannesburg-South Africa.
A source said; they have no doubt Mugambage deployed sections of the Rwandan “Hit Squad” hunt Malaba down and kill him; because he previously reported the Rwandan Asylum seekers who have been kidnapped include, Innocent Kaliisa [former Kagame bodyguard], Mutabazi [also former Kagame bodyguard], Andrew Muhanguzi and Maj. Habib Mudahigwa all kidnapped from Uganda.
Contacted to comment about Mr. Malaba’s disappearance and allegations of running a Kampala-based ‘Hit Squad’, Gen. Mugambage neither denied the allegations nor did he give a comprehensive answer, he said: “I have been busy and I’m still busy. I’m in a retreat somewhere, I can’t get involved in such issues at this time.” Pressed when he can be available to comment about allegations levelled against him that he runs a “Hit Squad” that targets Rwandan refugees in Uganda, Gen. Mugambage said: “Maybe sometimes of Friday.” The ambassador has since not answered any phone call or responded to a couple of text messages.
[author ]Norman S. Miwambo[/author]