Recent reports of abduction and torture of Ugandans by South Sudan security officials should prompt swift engagement between the governments of the two neighbours.
Last week, 16 Ugandans were arrested by South Sudan security officials while carrying out the census exercise at Wano village, Lefori Sub-county in Moyo District, at the Uganda-South Sudan border. Mr Scovin Iceta, a Monitor correspondent who was among those arrested, said they were forced to walk 35km from the point of detention in Mere, one of the biggest prisons in Kajo-Keji County in South Sudan to the Uganda border.
Mr Iceta narrated that the South Sudan soldiers brutalised them during the arrest and detention, tied their hands to their backs, and instructed them to match in a single line.
The torture of the Ugandan officials and the journalists who were accused by South Sudanese soldiers of “influencing the locals through frequent updates”, adds to the list of disturbing reports of harassment, intimidation, torture and death of Ugandans at the hands of South Sudanese, mainly security officials.
This is puzzling and ironical, given that when South Sudan was up in flames during the 20-year long civil conflict that set the South against the Arab North, Uganda provided sanctuary for Sudanese. To date, many of them live in Uganda.
Though the numerous reports of mistreatment of Ugandans in South Sudan have been brought to the attention of our government, both Kampala and Juba have not taken conclusive measures to resolve the matter. In June, the government of South Sudan apologised to the Ugandan business community in Juba over claims of mistreatment and harassment but clearly, the problem persists. Unless the Juba administration moves from mere apologies to putting in place and enforcing punitive measures against perpetrators of these attacks, Ugandans working and doing business in South Sudan, as well as those at border points, will continue to live in fear.
And yet, South Sudan is Uganda’s biggest trading partner. Before the escalation of the current war, Uganda was reported to earn Shs572 billion per month from exports to South Sudan, according to information from Bank of Uganda.
Some wrong elements in South Sudan should not be allowed to ruin relations between the two countries. The government of Uganda should demand answers from Juba about this unbecoming behaviour of some of their nationals.
If a Ugandan in South Sudan breaks the law in the host country, there must be legal processes in place to handle such cases if and when they arise. Arbitrary harassments, beatings and killings are unacceptable and betray the ideals of good neighbourliness.
The issue: Abduction of Ugandans.
Our view: If a Ugandan in South Sudan breaks the law in the host country, there must be legal processes in place to handle such cases…
SOURCE: Daily Monitor