Ugandan Officials Accused of Mistreating Kenyan Immigrants

2123 Views Gulu, Uganda

In short
They are among thirty two foreign nationals who were picked by Ugandan security on 8th June from Illegu border market where they found engaged in different activities.

4 of the 18 Kenyan nationals who were picked up from Ilegu border market in Gulu district recently for illegally staying in the country are accusing Ugandan authorities of maltreatment. They are Julius Kairioki, Muhamed Ahmed, Doctor Sylvester Kome and Stanley Kamata. They are among thirty two foreign nationals who were picked by Ugandan security on 8th June from Illegu border market where they found engaged in different activities. The group was last week arraigned before Gulu Chief Magistrate court.
 
The court ordered for the deportation of 18 Kenyans and two Cameroonians on grounds that they were in the country illegally and working without a permit. 14 other Kenyan nationals were ordered to formalize their stay in Uganda within two weeks or be deported back to their home country. The court ordered the illegal immigrants to pay a fine ranging between 150-200,000 shillings before they could be deported. 14 out of the eighteen managed to pay the fine and were transported over the weekend to the eastern Ugandan border town of Malaba and handed over to Kenyan authorities.
 

However, four of the illegal immigrants failed to raise the required fine and are still being detained at Gulu Government Prison.  Our reporter visited the suspects at Gulu Central Prison on Tuesday afternoon. They complained of their continued detention despite having paid the fine. The detainees told a URN from the prison cell that they paid the fine but the prison authorities have declined to release them because they have not paid for their transportation up to Malaba border post where they are to be handed over to Kenyan authorities. The detainees claim that 14 of their colleagues who were rescued by their Kikuyu kinsmen in Uganda, who mobilized money and paid for their transport fare to Malaba.

Under international immigration rules the country that deports aliens pays for their transportation up to their country of origin. Patrick Okema, the Aswa Region Police Spokesperson says he also does not know why the group is being asked to pay the fare for the deportation. Efforts to seek a comment from Gulu prison authorities were futile by the time of filing this report. However, one of immigrants who survived the deportation complained that the requirement of a work permit contravenes the East African protocol on free movement of goods and people within the East African Community.

Gideon Mutidi, who hails from Nakuru wonders why he and his colleagues were arrested yet the five members’ states of East African Community have signed protocols to ease movement of people and goods. Mutidi says he suspects they were treated that way because they didn’t have a lawyer to argue their case. He also complained that he cannot afford a work permit because of his small business. He argues that the East African Community should categorize workers in order to determine those who qualify for a work permit based on their remuneration.

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