Mozambique: Rwandans in panic after Ntamuhanga is handed over to Rwanda Embassy in Maputo

Cassien Ntamuhanga

By Ben Barugahare

The Rwandan journalist Cassien Ntamuhanga, missing since May 23, in Inhaca, after being approached by seven elements of the Police of the Republic of Mozambique (PRM) and a Rwandan secret agent, was handed over yesterday at the Rwandan embassy, in Maputo, even though the two countries do not have an extradition agreement.

In the beginning, when Ntamuhanga Cassien was reported missing, known as critical of Paul Kagamé’s regime and who had been in exile in Mozambique since 2017, the Police of the Republic of Mozambique denied any connection to the case and revealed that there had no record of complaints about the disappearance or abduction of a stranger.

However, Evidências (A Maputo based news house) knows that after his secret detention on Inhaca Island, the 37-year-old Rwandan was taken to the mainland where he was locked up in the 18th PRM police station in the city of Maputo, which is located in the area near the city barracks of the Rapid Intervention Unit “UIR”.

As far as we know, although Mozambique has never accepted the extradition request from Rwanda, after more than a week in detention, Cassien was handed over to the Rwandan embassy in Maputo yesterday. It is assumed that he will be taken to Kigali, without being presented at any judge as required by international law.

An apparent rapprochement between the President, Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique and his counterpart Paul Kagame of Rwanda, may have facilitated the process and the Rwandan community is in panic. This is because they fear that Paul Kagame has provided military aid to fight the insurgency in Cabo Delgado, in return for his support in tracking down his internal opponents.

Evidence revealed that after his arrest, the Rwandan community in Mozambique, along with his lawyer, contacted the PRM for information on his motives and whereabouts, but without success. Officials said they were not aware of any arrests of a Rwandan citizen.

Disgruntled, the members of Rwandan community, accompanied by their lawyer, , went to the island of Inhaca, where the commander of the local police station admitted the detention of journalist Cassien, but refused to give further details, saying that ‘ it was a very sensitive matter. In fact, he confessed, due to the confidential nature of the operation, the arrest file was not even opened, having been transported to Maputo the same day.

At the moment, the Rwandan community of Maputo is experiencing moments of apprehension because of the position of the Mozambican government which, although it does not have a formal extradition agreement, is said to be “handing over” the opponents to Paul Kagame. They exiled in Maputo after being victims of persecution and arbitrary detention in their country.

Cassien Ntamuhanga, now illegally detained in Maputo had his refugee status regularized and carried on business on Inhaka Island, just under two hours by boat from the Mozambican capital.

Tackled with the silence of the national authorities, the Rwandan community on Tuesday submitted the case to the general prosecutor’s office aiming at putting pressure on the government so to escape the presidential complicity. “We decided to take the matter to the Prosecutor General, and our lawyer was here today. This is how we must put pressure on the authorities to locate Ntamuhanga Cassien, ”revealed the spokesperson for the association, Cléophas Habiyaremye, quoted by Lusa News Agency 

In addition to Ntamuhanga, there is a list of other Rwandans who are being chased in Maputo and who could in the coming days be handed over to the Rwandan authorities.