Ugandan-Banyarwanda Community Petitions Parliament Over Human Rights Violations

The Ugandan-Banyarwanda community in the nation has lodged a complaint with Parliament regarding a range of grievances, urging the House to step in and examine the discrimination and infringement of their human rights. In a petition submitted to Parliament by Hon. Joseph Ssewungu (NUP, Kalungu West County), the community, represented by the Council for Abavandimwe, expressed dismay that despite being recognized as an indigenous tribe by the Constitution, the National Identity Registration Authority (NIRA) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs have refused to grant them Ugandan citizenship documents.

 Ssewungu presented the petition to the House chaired by Speaker Anita Among on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. He noted that many individuals have been denied employment opportunities, missed out on studying abroad, and faced difficulties crossing borders.

“Numerous Ugandan-Banyarwanda returning from overseas for education or employment purposes have encountered obstacles in renewing their passports or obtaining national identity cards, leading to job losses or missed educational opportunities,” he stated. He elaborated that they are unable to open bank accounts, register companies, or obtain telephone lines in their names.

The lawmaker expressed frustration that some individuals whose passports expired while abroad, particularly in the Middle East and other regions, have received no assistance from Ugandan foreign missions or embassies due to being labeled non-Ugandans.

 Furthermore, he reported that some individuals recommended for medical treatment abroad have been denied this right due to their inability to prove citizenship. Despite discussions with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and NIRA, positive outcomes have not been achieved, according to the MP.

The petitioners requested that a parliamentary committee investigate the discrimination and infringement of their rights, and urged Parliament to compel NIRA and the Ministry of Internal Affairs – Immigration Department to issue national identity cards and passports in accordance with their recognition in the 1995 Constitution. Speaker Among instructed the Committee on Internal Affairs to handle the petition within 45 days.