SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: November 27, 2019

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):Kampala International University

Region & Country:Eastern Africa | Uganda

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On November 27, 2019, Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) reportedly arrested four Kampala International University (KIU) students of Rwandan origin, apparently based on their national origins.

Relations between Uganda and Rwanda became strained in 2019 as both countries alleged that the other had engaged in sabotage and espionage aimed at provoking political instability. These allegations led to barriers to travel and trade between the two countries. In Uganda, the country’s security services have reportedly abducted, imprisoned, and even tortured Rwandan nationals and those of Rwandan origin, often accusing them of being “spies.”

On November 27, Military Intelligence officials reportedly arrested the head of KIU’s Rwandan students association Joram Rwamojo alongside Emmanuel Namanya, Living Kagara, and Andrew Mugisha from their student dormitories. KIU students residing at the same dormitories have reportedly stated that no warrant was produced during the arrest. Media sources have also indicated that the charges against the students remain unknown.

The four students were reportedly being held alongside four Rwandans who owned businesses in Uganda. As a result of their arrest, the students reportedly missed their exams. As of this report, their whereabouts are unknown.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary detention of four students in apparent connection to their national origins. Arbitrary arrests without particularized and reasonable suspicion may violate recognized international human rights standards. Such incidents undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.