Human Rights Activist Pecos fears for his life in Kampala, Uganda

By Jakson Baguma Ntamuzinda

Oct 8, 2020(Nyamilepedia) As we write this alert, a human right activist, Kulihoshi Musikami Pecos, is still reporting to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Headquarters in Kibuli – Kampala Uganda since he was arrested and detained in Police Cell in June 2020. While the Police at Kibuli have failed either to produce him to Court or to release, more pressure is amounting to Pecos. Our colleague Pecos risks to be killed or kidnapped.

Recently his house in Nansana Wakiso was broken into and all his property was taken by unidentified people and all efforts to seek help from the Police did not achieve much because there was no Police will. Information to our possession indicates that Pecos keeps on hiding in various places among people of good will who show solidarity with him.

On the ground while Pecos holds a refugee status the UNHCR Uganda has clearly indicated that there is nothing much it can do in order to help Pecos, arguing that they would not like to affect their relationship with the Government in order to protect one controversial person. Human Rights Organizations which could have come in are telling us more reasons why they cannot help our colleague, but none have showed us that there are possibilities to help out. But also his 20 years in this field Pecos has not enjoyed the support from other local human rights defenders on contrary they have in many occasions joined the Refugee Regime in order to oppress Pecos more.

 We clearly understand that positions of so many actors in Uganda are highly connected to high traffic of influence by the refugee regime and by interests surrounding “deals on refugees”.  Everyone has a deal to protect concerning refugees in Uganda and the refugee business in Uganda is one among the most lucrative, if you want to get money in Uganda just say that you will help refugees.

Current situation of Kulihoshi M Pecos

For the two weeks Pecos is being tracked by unknown people through various phone calls, and through other refugees especially Congolese who seem to play a frontline role not only to identify where Pecos is but also help the security services to get him. Some are organizing all sorts of meetings and targeting Pecos to play roles in those meetings in order to alert those who want him. Pecos survived two weeks back during one of the refugee meeting which was organized, because he just left earlier than it was expected. His friends are also not spared. Some refugees seem to be well deployed with the mission to help identify our colleague. We all know that this is not new and we are much concerned that refugees are being used now as spies in Uganda.

Circumstances surrounding his arrest

Agitations seems obvious within the refugee regime, the Office of the Prime Minister Department of Refugees which is the Government Department for refugees is facing leadership challenges and allegations have indicated a fight between the current acting Commissioner Gerald Menhya and the former Commissioner David Kazungu.

Kazungu wants to come back and manage the office but Gerald seemed to have refused to surrender the office. Kazungu is the one who persecuted Pecos over the years and is alleged to arrange “the incommunicado detention” of Pecos in 2018, Kazungu was later suspended but it like his is again back. This alone is a serious problem to vocal refugees in Uganda. On the other hand Pecos has strongly opposed the culture of bribe promoted by UNHCR Officers in order to facilitate refugee resettlement and the current suspension of Angelique who was highly accused in this bribe does not support the protection of Pecos.

But also there are serious allegations about money scam involving the Office of the Prime Minister, InterAid Uganda, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the International Organization for Migration with connections from the European Union.  A lot of money was given by the European Union to support poor people in slams here in Kampala Uganda, among them refugees were identified as some among the beneficiaries.

The project was designed that Refugee Leaders would participate in the whole decision making, but later on the Refugee Regime imposed itself and denied refugees the opportunity to participate which opened doors to all forms of abuses. The donor which is the EU was informed about this but chose to do nothing, and the project was implemented up to now. Now the most controversial is that one in Kisenyi – Mengo Kampala. At first Xavier Project was selected to implement this project but later on they withdrew from it because they could not manage to make the “ deals” proposed to them by the refugee regime. Xavier Project indicated that it tried to link up with the EU but was not successful, in the process the project in Kisenyi was given to YARID which is a refugee led organization but also they pulled out because they could not accept the “deals “ from the Refugee Regime, YARID also alerted the EU but nothing much was done,  and later on the Refugee Regime fabricated a Refugee Led Organization called “ Refugee Drivers Association” which was headed by Abdu Twaha as the Executive Director. Abdu was easy to work with and played very well the games and money was spent in the name of helping refugees but the money did not reach to the intended people.

In 2019 then, the Board of Director of the Refugee Drivers Association became suspicious about contracts and deals between the Association and InterAid, UNHCR and IOM. In 2020 they started an inquiry into this and in this process they consulted Pecos so many times to guide them and at the same time Abdu also consulted Pecos to ask his colleagues to stop what they are doing in terms of investigations.

 Pecos could not accept the offer from Abdu and suggested that there should be total transparency in that dirty deal using the misery of refugees.  Many actions and activities are being taken in order to name and shame all those who used refugees in Kisenyi in order to divert millions of dollars from the European Union, in response to this Abdu and his allies in InterAid, OPM, UNHCR and IOM responded by threats against everyone who has been involved, later on they changed the strategy and have started kidnapping those who are seeking for transparency in this money issue and as per now we believe that the current threats against Pecos may be highly connected to this scandal.

We remain to our previous requests

The Donor Community in Uganda should remain faithful to their engagement which they had in 2018 during the investigations into refugee scandals in Uganda, to ensure that Refugee Human Rights Defenders and other vocal refugees are protected, and this should be a condition for any support to the Refugee Regime,

The Donor Community which support initiatives towards refugees in Uganda should stop all funding to the refugee regime and impose target sanctions against all those who have abused vocal refugees in Uganda. Do you know that most of these officers in OPM, UNHCR, IOM get their medical treatment either from the USA or from the European Union Member Countries,

We urgently request the Donor Community to put in place special fund to support the work of Refugee Human Rights Defenders and also put in place clear mechanisms for their protection,

We urge the donor community who fund human rights Defenders in Uganda to put a clear requirement to include refugees in their work in order to access funding,

We urge the Donor Community to change its perception towards refugees human rights defenders and encourage them more to struggle for refugee rights rather than discouraging them to abandon this noble cause,

We request all donors countries and all those countries which offer resettlement to refugees to make priority the resettlement of Refugee Human Rights Defenders at risk in Uganda,

As organization working on the promotion of Refugee Rights in the Region we are fully aware of the risks surrounding the “business on refugees” but we remain committed to do all we can to help refugees to live in respect and in dignity, until we breath for the last, we shall continue struggling to end this business, we remain standing with our colleague Pecos at risk. We understand how he is struggling alone but we shall never give up. We believe that one day refugees in the region shall become a strong voice and the will hold accountable all those who have oppressed them.

Jakson Baguma Ntamuzinda is the Regional Coordinator for Goma, North Kivu and  DRCongo of the Foundation People for Peace and Defense of Human Rights, a  Community Initiative for the Promotion, Protection and Defense of Refugee Rights in the Region: Uganda, D.R.Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia. He can be reached for more through email at ppdruganda@gmail.com


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