Uganda Deports Kenyan nationals

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KAMPALA—Court in Uganda has deported thirty Kenyan nationals who were recently arrested in a joint operation carried out by immigration and security officials from the northern Ugandan district of Gulu.

The Kenyans were rounded up last weekend during a security swoop targeting illegal immigrants who are running businesses from Ilegu market.

Ilegu Market is located about 400 kilometers north of the capital Kampala. The market which is located less than a kilometer from the Uganda-South border is usually frequented by Kenyan and South Sudanese nationals.

Those who were deported include fifteen Kenyan women who have been operating restaurants and bars in Ilegu border market.

They include Naome Wanjiku, Isaac Kiraga, Esther Waguta, Lucy Njoikimana, Stanley Karati and Angella Muthoni.

Charged in Court

“They appeared yesterday before Gulu Chief Magistrate’s court where they were charged with two counts of staying illegally in Uganda and working without a permit”.  Patrick Okema the Northern Uganda Police Spokesperson told the Continental Observer in an interview on Tuesday Evening.

Okema explained that the group was transported aboard two ‘matatus’ up to the Ugandan border town of Malaba where they were handed over to Kenyan security officials.

“This should act as a warning to foreigners who are in the country illegally to formalize their stay to avoid being deported back to their home countries”. Okema says the operation was prompted by the increase in insecurity at the Uganda-Sudan border over the past one month.

Victims Complain of harassment

The group however complained that they were detained at Gulu Government Prison and made to pay fines of up to US$200 before they were deported. They also complained that the prison authorities made them to pay for their transport fare of 1.5 million Ugandan shillings.

“fourteen of our colleagues who are Kikuyus were lucky their association in Uganda collected 1.5m shillings and gave to security officials and they were released there and then they never spent even a day in prison” Gideon Mutidi a victim lamented before they were huddled into a taxi destined for Malaba.

No legal representation

“I suspect we were deported because we did not have legal representation the lady who was presiding over the case appeared to be reading an old law but because there was no one to challenge her we were unfairly deported” Complained Gideon Mutidi, who says he 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.

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.

Patrick Okema, the Northern Regioal 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.

Section 66 of the Uganda Immigration Control Act makes it illegal for a foreigner to unlawfully enter into the country while section 59 sub section two (A) makes it illegal for a foreigner to live and work in Uganda without a permit.

The deportation of the foreigners from the border market has affected business in the border market.

The Kenyans who have been deported have been running businesses like restaurants and electronic shops which are now closed.

Dr. Sylvester Kome, a qualified medical personnel had been running the only medical clinic in the border area.

His deportation now leaves the residents in the area without access to medical treatment.

The nearest health facility is Lacor Hospital which is 90 kilometers away.

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