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Court Sets Date For Hearing Rwanda-Uganda Border Closure Case

According to the summons, the Registrar of East African Court of Justice Yufnalis Okubo is summoning both parties to appear for the hearing which will take place on September 14, 2020, via video conferencing.
11 Aug 2020 16:15
Right to Left the Applicant Steven Kalali and his Lawyer. File Photo
The East African Court of Justice has summoned the Attorney General of Rwanda and a Ugandan lawyer Steven Kalali to appear in court for the hearing of the border closure case.

According to the summons, the Registrar of East African Court of Justice Yufnalis Okubo is summoning both parties to appear for the hearing which will take place on September 14, 2020, via video conferencing.

"Please take note that if there is no appearance on your part the court will proceed to hear the case and make necessary orders your absence notwithstanding", reads the summons in part.

The notice further indicates that the parties will be appearing before a three-member panel of Judges comprising the Principal Judge Monica Mugenyi, Audace Ngiye and Dr Charles Nyawello. 

On February 27 2019, Rwanda closed its borders blocking heavy trucks from Uganda to allegedly expedite construction works at the Rwandan side of the Gatuna border. Truck drivers were advised to use the Kagitumba border, via Mirama Hills. 

Rwanda also advised its citizens against travelling to Uganda claiming that Ugandan authorities were abducting, arbitrarily arresting, jailing, torturing and illegally deporting Rwandans. 

The Kigali administration accused Uganda of allegedly hosting, sponsoring, and facilitating terrorist groups more specifically the Rwanda National Congress-RNC and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda -FDLR that have declared war on Rwanda.

Following the closure, Kalali sued the government of Rwanda in the East African Court of Justice.

Kalali argued that the border closure contravenes the East African Community Treaty and the Common Market Protocol which allow free movement of people, goods and services across the bloc. Rwanda is a signatory to the treaty.       

He also wondered why the decision to close the borders was so abrupt and taken with no prior communication to traders and other route users. He added that the act of continuously blocking Rwanda nationals from moving freely in and out of Uganda undermines good governance, security and rule of law.  

 Kalali also noted that the actions of Rwanda have infringed on the rights and freedoms of its people, and those in neighbouring countries, and caused financial loss to hundreds of traders.

Subsequently, he asked the East African Court of Justice to declare the border closure illegal.  

In March 2020, the East African Court of Justice rejected an application by the government of Rwanda that was filed by their State Attorney Nicholas Ntarugera seeking for more time to file additional evidence in this matter.

 The application was rejected based on several illegalities key of them is that the application that was meant to benefit Rwanda was filed in the name of the Ugandan applicant who the Judges ruled that it was wrong and amounts to an abuse of court process and therefore inexcusable.

Last year, President Yoweri Museveni and his Rwandan Counterpart Paul Kagame held various meetings to try and resolve the issue of the border closure. 

However, the talks suffered a setback because of the Covid-19 pandemic.      

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