Over 300 Ugandans languishing in DR Congo jails

Uganda's Ambassador to the DRC, James Kinobe

Uganda’s Ambassador to the DRC, James Kinobe

Details have emerged indicating that the Central African state of Democratic Republic of Congo is holding more than three hundred Ugandans in its prisons.

Uganda’s Ambassador to Democratic Republic of Congo, James Kinobe says one hundred of those are suspected to have been part of Uganda’s rebel groups operating in Congo. He says most of those in detention were yet to appear in courts for trial.

Kinobe says the one hundred prisoners were arrested from in March 2014, when the DRC’s army launched an offensive against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels in the eastern part of the country.

Ambassador Kinobe revealed this while appearing before a joint meeting held by the Public Accounts and the Foreign Affairs committees of the Ugandan Parliament.

“All over DR Congo we have many Ugandans in various prisons in Bunya, Benni, Goma, but the majority are in the capital Kinshasa. Many of them they are related to security cases, the bulk of them over 100 were arrested during ADF operations and actually some of them were arrested directly in combat,” Ambassador Kinobe said.

Kinobe confirmed that most of the suspects have over stayed in jails without proper trial. He says his Embassy is working closely with the DRC government and their families to have them tried in the courts of law. He however did not give details of what crimes  the remaining two hundred  detainees had committed in the Democratic Republic Of Congo.

“Given the size of DR Congo and the nature of their crimes, the circumstances under which they were arrested, they take long before they appear in court, some of these young men we are talking about have been in prison for over a year since the operations against the ADF started. And it takes long to have them charged.” he added.

Uganda’s representative to the DRC went on to say “The type of consular services we give include linking them to their families, if they need legal services we contact their lawyers, visiting them if they are sick, we lobby for their medical services. But we don’t have a budget to give financial assistance to the prisoners.” Meanwhile Theodore Ssekikubo, Lwemiyaga County questioned the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the progress in payment of about 30 billion Shillings in reparation costs to DRC.

The money accrued after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2005 found Uganda guilty of plundering natural resources and human rights abuses when it deployed UPDF troops in Congo.

However, Kinobe says the money has not increased, but negotiations are still ongoing on how to foot the costs. Failure of which, the two parties will return to the ICJ to decide on the way forward.