Before the arrest and subsequent incarceration of former IGP Gen. Kale Kayihura between June and November 2018, he had been taken to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over crimes against humanity that he allegedly committed along with his other men when they forcefully deported a group of Rwandan nationals back to Rwanda.
Led by Mr Rugema Kayumba, the group stated that they decided to file a criminal complaint before The Hague-based ICC court on grounds that they had failed to get justice in Uganda for a long time.
They further stated the crimes allegedly committed by Kayihura and his accomplices, fell under the jurisdiction of the ICC that tries four major categories of crime that include; crimes of aggression, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Gen Kayihura who had been at the helm of the Police Force for over the last 13 years before he was finally axed by President Museveni and replaced with Martin Okoth Ochola, was jointly accused with 16 other senior police officers.
The criminal complaint was filed in the office of the ICC chief prosecutor, Ms Fatou Bensouda in the Information and Evidence Unit at The Hague court in Netherlands.
“This petition is brought to the ICC on its merits being that crimes like murder, deportation or forceful transfer of population. Torture and enforced disappearance of persons are within the definition of crimes against humanity which are triable by the ICC,” the petitioners stated in the criminal complaint before the ICC.
“Selected Uganda Police Officers were offered 5000 USD for each individual repatriated, a witness testified to us that some of these victims who resisted where executed within Uganda,” the complaint stated.
The group claimed that between 2010 and 2017, Rwandan authorities procured services of members of the Uganda Police Force to forcefully repatriate Rwandan refugees, Ugandans of Rwandan origin and Congolese of Rwandan origin.
Narrating how the alleged crimes against humanity were committed by Kayihura and his men, the petitioner’s stated that selected police officers on the Ugandan side were chosen to join missions that involved kidnapping, torturing, killing and repatriating Rwandan refugees and asylum seekers.
They pointed out of how officer Joel Aguma allegedly kidnapped Joel Mutabazi and handed him over to his tormentors, Rwandan operatives and was sentenced to life imprisonment, how Olivier Rukundo, a Spanish national of Rwandan origin was kidnapped on his way from seeing his relatives in Kisoro District and that he was serving a life sentence.
At the tail end of their criminal complaint, the petitioners made some requests to the court.
They include; to be availed with security and guarantee that their lives will always be safe in Uganda and in any other country, prosecute Kayihura and his men for alleged crimes committed, be compensated for the atrocities committed against them by agents of the two countries, a permanent injunction be issued to restrain the perpetrators and countries involved from all sorts of abuse against this group.
The filing of this criminal complaint before the ICC, came barely two months after nine people, among whom were five senior police officers who had been charged before the Makindye military court for allegedly kidnapping former bodyguard of Rwandan president, Paul Kagame.
The suspects faced charges of conspiracy to kidnap, a Rwandan officer, Lt Joel Mutabazi in Uganda in 2013.
Joel Mutabazi, a former lieutenant in Kagame’s Republican Guard was allegedly kidnapped in Kampala in 2013 and handed over to his home government which sentenced him to life imprisonment.
However, Kayihura was later on arrested and prosecuted by the Ugandan judicial system but has since been roaming freely after being released on bail pending further investigations.
The mere fact that he had been charged for the same crimes leveled against him at the Hague based ICC meant that under the principle of double jeopardy where one cannot be prosecuted for the same offence more than once, Kayihura was shielded against the ICC.
With allegations over a possible plot by the Ugandan government to try failing the prevalence of Justice by arresting the former police head widely reported, there have been questions on whether the local judicial system is competent enough to deliver Justice for the victims Kayihura’s illegal action. With two years almost elapsing since, their hopes are beginning to wither away.
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