Home Security Kenyan Lawmaker Advocates for Release of Nationals Detained in Uganda

Kenyan Lawmaker Advocates for Release of Nationals Detained in Uganda

kenyan lawmaker advocates for release of nationals detained in uganda
kenyan lawmaker advocates for release of nationals detained in uganda
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Kenya’s National Assembly is addressing the issue of Kenyan citizens who are currently in jail in Kampala for their involvement in the killing of Ugandan soldiers during a cattle rustling incident.

This week, Protus Akuja, a Member of Parliament from Loima in Turkana County, has asked the Parliament to request the Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs to help bring back the 41 Kenyan citizens who are imprisoned in Uganda.

In his request, Akuja explains that these Kenyan citizens were arrested, detained, and quickly sentenced to between eight and 20 years in prison after a cordon-and-search operation carried out by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF). Currently, their whereabouts are unknown.

Akuja states in his request, “The Turkana pastoralists were taken through a one-day court martial without any legal representation or the right to appeal. The right to a fair trial is that every person should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

He further adds, “There is no clear information on which prison facilities the convicts are confined in or any evidence to prove they are still alive.”

Akuja expressed concern that most of those convicted were minors who were taken from their kraals on accusations of possessing illegal firearms and ammunition. They were tried under Ugandan law. According to Section 119 of the UPDF Act, anyone found with weapons, ammunition, or equipment that is a monopoly of the armed forces is subject to military law and trial by a court martial, a practice that does not apply in Kenya.

Uganda and Kenya, under the East African Community Treaty, have a mutual legal assistance framework that includes the return of suspects to the country where they committed the crime. However, there is uncertainty about whether this covers the exchange of prisoners. Ugandan authorities frequently arrest pastoralists and fishermen for trespassing and often impose fines before releasing them.

The Kenyan Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs has stated that it is engaging with its counterparts in Kampala. However, Uganda has reportedly demanded that the imprisoned group identify the killers before they can be released.

In April, the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) entered Kenya following the killing of three Ugandan geologists and two UPDF soldiers who were guarding the geologists in Lotisan Sub-County in Moroto District. The UPDF was pursuing herdsmen believed to have committed the acts in Uganda before escaping into Kenya. They confiscated 27 AK-47 rifles, one self-loading rifle, 751 rounds of ammunition, 32 magazines, three sets of UPDF uniforms, and 19 bows and arrows.

Over the years, the regions of Karamoja and Turkana have suffered from the influx of illegal firearms smuggled through the porous borders of Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, and Somalia. These firearms are often used in cattle raids, which have seen an increase in recent times in both countries.

Mr. Akuja holds the Kenyan government responsible for neglecting its citizens’ plight, as they are mistreated in a foreign country. He urges parliament to compel the Ministry of Affairs, through the High Commission in Uganda, to request the extradition and surrender of the accused individuals to Kenyan authorities for trial.

The petition will be reviewed by the National Assembly Public Petitions Committee, and a report will be presented to the House within 60 days. However, it may carry limited legal weight, given that this is an issue involving a foreign state.