Burundian Asylum Seeker’s Whereabouts in Question Despite Court Orders

Ministry of Internal Affairs Uganda - Burundian Asylum Seeker's Whereabouts in Question Despite Court Orders
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Hervine Sindayigaya, the wife of Ntwari Regis Marie, a 28-year-old Burundian asylum seeker, arrived at the Aviation Police Station in Entebbe municipality after receiving information that her husband faced deportation back to Burundi. Ntwari had sought refuge in Uganda several years ago. Accompanied by relatives and lawyer Gawaya Tegulle, Sindayigaya made efforts to locate Ntwari’s whereabouts at Entebbe airport.

Ntwari had been detained at Kireka Police Station for over two weeks, prompting his family to obtain a court order for his unconditional release. The court order, dated September 25, 2023, was issued by Igga Adiru, an acting senior grade one magistrate at Makindye court.

Sindayigaya reported that her husband was re-arrested by INTERPOL Uganda and handed over to Uganda’s Internal Affairs Ministry. With the assistance of Tegulle, Ntwari filed an application in the High Court to prevent his extradition to Burundi. On October 13, Justice Boniface Wamala issued an interim order barring Ntwari’s deportation, instructing that the matter be heard further.

However, during their presence at Entebbe Airport on Sunday, Ntwari’s family and lawyer presented the court order to various officials, all of whom referred them to immigration authorities.

The question arises: Did the deportation occur? While Tegulle asserts that Ntwari was secretly deported to Burundi, no official documentation has confirmed the deportation against the court order. Ntwari was not observed at Entebbe airport when the alleged deportation supposedly transpired.

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When contacted for comment, Internal Affairs Ministry spokesperson Simon Mundeyi indicated he was on leave, while Kampala metropolitan police spokesperson Patrick Onyango stated that Ntwari was not in police custody. Josephine Apili Ali Ekwang, the commissioner of legal and inspection services in the Internal Affairs Ministry, questioned whether the court order was addressed to immigration but did not provide further information.

It remains uncertain whether Ntwari was deported to Burundi or if he remains detained in Uganda.

The allegations against Ntwari date back to a police bond granted on September 4, 2023, which mentioned theft (Ref.31/04/09/2023) as the accusation. Ntwari was required to report to the commandant of the Flying Squad Unit regularly, but the bond did not specify the details of the theft charges.

Additionally, documents suggest that INTERPOL Burundi requested Ntwari’s arrest and extradition on September 14, 2023, for an alleged breach of trust involving $630,000. The request stated that Ntwari had been transporting a significant quantity of gold for his employer, Ngendakumana Arsene, when he reported being robbed of the gold by armed individuals on July 29, 2023.

Another letter, issued by Leonard Manirakiza on behalf of the prosecutor general of Burundi, indicated that Ntwari was being prosecuted for breach of trust involving $630,000, a criminal offense under Article 308 of the Burundian penal code.

Sindayigaya, Ntwari’s wife, vehemently denied the allegations, asserting that her husband was being pursued for political reasons. She cited his prior asylum application in Uganda, explaining that he had sought refuge in Uganda long before the charges were levied against him. According to official documents, Ntwari received a certificate of asylum, initially granted on January 17, 2023, which had been renewed multiple times. This certificate was set to expire on November 19, 2023.

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