국제앰네스티는 우간다 내 2개 난민수용소에 거주하던 1,700명의 르완다 국적 비호신청자들이 우간다 정부와 르완다 정부의 공동 주도 하에 강제 송환된 것을 비난했다.지난 14일, 보안경찰은 우간다 남부에 있는 나키발레(Nakivale)와 키야카 II (Kyaka II) 난민수용소에서 대규모 강제 송환 작전을 펼치면서 비호신청자들을 모아 트럭에 강제로 태웠다.
몇몇 비호신청자들이 탈출을 시도할 때마다 보안경찰은 하늘을 향해 발포했다. 이러한 혼란 속에서 다수가 부상을 입고 많은 아동이 부모와 떨어지게 됐다.
비호신청자들은 르완다 비움바 주의 루코모(Rukomo) 환승 센터로 이송됐다.
국제앰네스티 어윈 반 데르 보르그트(Erwin van der Borght) 아프리카 국장은 “거부된 비호신청자들의 강제 송환 조치는 우간다가 국제난민법 및 인권법 상 갖고 있는 의무에 따라 이루어져야 한다”며 “이는 공평하고 효과적인 비호 절차를 포함한다”고 말했다.
이어서 그는 “당국의 행위와 비호신청자를 소집할 때 보였던 충격적인 태도를 미루어봤을 때, 확실한 보호 신청이 됐던 이들도 송환됐을지 모른다는 우려가 제기되고 있다”고 말했다.
Uganda forcibly returns 1,700 Rwandan asylum-seekers
16 July 2010
Amnesty International has condemned the forced return of around 1,700 Rwandan asylum-seekers from two refugee settlements in Uganda in a joint operation between the governments of Uganda and Rwanda this week.
On Wednesday, armed police officers rounded up the asylum-seekers and forced them on to waiting trucks during two major operations at the Nakivale and Kyaka II refugee settlements in southwestern Uganda.
When some asylum-seekers tried to escape, police officers fired shots into the air. In the ensuing panic and stampede people were reportedly injured and children were separated from their parents.
The asylum-seekers were then driven into Rwanda and taken to Rukomo transit center in Byumba province.
“Any forced removal of rejected asylum-seekers must be carried out in accordance with Uganda’s obligations under international refugee and human rights law, including access to a fair and efficient asylum procedure,” said Erwin van der Borght, Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme.
“The conduct of the authorities and the disturbing manner in which these individuals were rounded up raises serious concern that people with genuine protection claims were returned.”
Reports indicate that a number of recognized refugees may have been placed on the trucks and returned to Rwanda. The Office of the Prime Minister, however, has stated that the forced returns targeted rejected asylum-seekers who had exhausted the asylum procedure.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that 25 people who were not among the deported were injured, some from police beatings. Among the injured were six pregnant women who were treated at a local hospital and then released. UNHCR also stated that the operations resulted in the deaths of two men who jumped off trucks en route to Rwanda.
Amnesty International questions whether the correct refugee status determination (RSD) procedure was applied in these cases by the Ugandan authorities. The two groups of Rwandans – both recent arrivals to Uganda – were subjected to an ad hoc procedure whereby authorities sent mobile RSD units to conduct decisions in the camps, without appropriate procedural safeguards.
Despite provisions under national legislation, the UNHCR was not provided with access to the refugee status determination procedures of these two groups.
“The flawed decision making process for these cases raises concerns that those returned have not been granted effective access to a fair and efficient asylum procedure,” said Erwin van der Borght.
According to the UNHCR, since the beginning of 2010, 3,320 Rwandans have filed for asylum in Uganda. Ninety-eight per cent were rejected in the past six months.
UNHCR’s Executive Committee (ExCom), a body of 79 member states who advise on international protection issues and which includes Uganda, has stated clearly that the “return of persons found not to be in need of international protection should be undertaken in a humane manner, in full respect for human rights and dignity and, that force, should it be necessary, be proportional and undertaken in a manner consistent with human rights law…”