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Lawyer accuses immigration of failing to issue passports to Kakwenza’s children, petitions human rights commission

Lawyers representing exiled novelist, Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, have petitioned the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) accusing the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control of refusing to issue passports to his three children, despite fulfilling the requisite requirements.

Mr Eron Kiiza, Kakwenza‘s lawyer, in a one-page letter says three children paid for express passports processing and submitted all relevant information, and also attended the mandatory interviews in March 2022.

However, despite their parents and lawyers religiously following up on the passports process since March, the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control, according to Mr Kizza, has refused to grant them passports.

No reason has been given, to date, for the delay in granting the passports to the said children yet other Ugandan citizens continue getting their passports,” Mr Kiiza wrote on behalf of Kakwenza, in a letter copied to the President of Uganda, Minister of Internal Affairs, European Delegation in Uganda and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“This is to draw your attention to the human rights violations and injustice against the children and seek your immediate intervention to enable them receive their passports and further their dreams without being marginalized,” Mr Kiiza states.

When contacted, Mr Simon Mundeyi, the Internal Affairs publicist, denied having knowledge of the children’s passport application.

“We are not aware of his application for his children because we do not deny Ugandans passports. The qualification for passports here is citizenship not any other. So once one is in Uganda we cannot use any other [reason to deny] a person’s passport. I do not know any application by Kakwenza’s children for passports,” Mr Mudenyi said.

Kakwenza, 33, slipped out of Uganda earlier this year after a magistrate – who has since been promoted to the rank of a High Court Judge, denied his application to have his passport returned in order to seek proper medication after a month of torture in custody.

Kakwenza was accused of using social media to insult President Museveni and his son, also the commander of the Lands Forces in the Uganda People’s Defence Forces, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba.

Kakwenza won acclaim for his 2020 satirical novel “The Greedy Barbarian”, which describes high-level corruption in a fictional country. He has been repeatedly arrested since “The Greedy Barbarian” was published and said he was previously tortured while being interrogated by military intelligence.

He was also awarded the 2021 PEN Pinter Prize for an International Writer of Courage, which is presented annually to a writer who has been persecuted for speaking out about his beliefs, and PEN’s German branch has campaigned in his support.

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