The Council for Abavandimwe, an association representing individuals of Rwandan origin residing in Uganda, has submitted a petition to the Ugandan Parliament. Through their umbrella organization, they seek an investigation into allegations of segregation and violation of their rights within the country.

Presented to Parliament by Joseph Gonzaga Sewungu, the Kalungu West legislator, the petition highlights the grievances of the Bavandimwe community. Despite being recognized as an indigenous tribe in Uganda under the 1995 constitution, they claim to face severe citizenship rights violations at the hands of Ugandan authorities.

The petition specifically addresses the denial of access to essential services, such as obtaining national identity cards. Members of the Banyarwanda community allege discrimination by the National Identiication and Registration Authority (NIRA) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs Immigration department, resulting in difficulties in obtaining passports and identification documents.

Moreover, the petitioners raise concerns about the confiscation of their identification documents, hindering their ability to secure employment both within Uganda and abroad. This lack of official documentation also prevents them from opening bank accounts or registering companies.

The situation is dire for some members of the community, particularly those whose passports have expired while abroad. They find themselves stranded in various countries without assistance from Ugandan foreign missions and embassies due to their perceived lack of Ugandan citizenship.

Tragically, the inability to travel abroad for specialized healthcare has resulted in loss of life for some Ugandan Banyarwanda. Despite engaging with relevant Ugandan authorities, the petitioners claim that their grievances remain unaddressed.

Led by Kampala businessman Frank Gashumba, the group urges Parliament to intervene. They call for directives to NIRA and the Ministry of Internal Affairs to issue passports and national IDs to their members in accordance with the constitution.

In response, Sewungu emphasizes that the discrimination faced by the local Rwandan community primarily stems from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, rather than civilians. He highlights instances where individuals face obstacles even after completing the necessary procedures and payments for passports.

Parliament Speaker Anita Among has referred the petition to the House Committee of Defence and Internal Affairs. The committee is tasked with investigating the claims and reporting back to Parliament within 45 days, indicating a step towards addressing the concerns raised by the Banyarwanda community.