Thursday, September 09, 2010

Britain arrests top LRA negotiator Willy Oryem alias Achila

ACCORDING to the following news reports from Kampala, Uganda, a top Kampala official said Mr Oryem alias Achila, in detention at Harmmondsworth Removal Centre since his arrest upon landing at Heathrow Airport in England on 28 August 2010, has never been “classified as a terrorist”.

Britain arrests top LRA negotiator
From Daily Monitor online at www.monitor.co.ug
By Tabu Butagira - Saturday, 04 September 2010
(Kampala) - A former top envoy of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels at the failed Juba peace talks has been arrested at Heathrow International Airport in London.

Mr Willy Oryem alias Achila, the last administrator of the LRA peace team, confirmed to this newspaper in a brief telephone interview, last evening, that he was still in detention. He gave no reason or details of his arrest, saying; “The Immigrations authority here has to give me permission before I can speak to the press.”

It emerged last night that UK authorities were investigating Mr Oryem, who has largely lived in Nairobi, in relation to his alleged dealings with the Joseph Kony-led rebel group.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. James Mugume, said last night that he learnt of Mr Oryem’s arrest early this week but has no updated information, having been on official duty upcountry.

“The British [government] will have to tell us the reason (for his arrest).”

By last evening, British High Commission officials in Kampala said they were unaware about the development. The Home Office in London said in reply to our enquiries that: “We do not normally make specific comments on individual cases.”

It is, however, understood the UK authorities want to determine if Mr Oryem, who has previously worked with indicted LRA leadership, should be allowed to pass through the country. Ms Peggy, whom Mr Oryem identified to us as his solicitor in the UK, had not returned our telephone calls or responded to voice messages left on her handset.

Five wanted

The International Criminal Court in 2005 issued arrest warrants for Joseph Kony and four of his top commanders, accusing them of committing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity during their brutal two-decade military campaign in northern Uganda. Three of the indictees are reported to have died.

Yesterday, Ambassdor Mugume said Mr Oryem is not among LRA suspects Uganda is pursuing. The Washington-based Enough Project, which works worldwide to forestall genocide, announced last month that the LRA is on rampage and killing or kidnapping civilians in DRC, South Sudan and the Central Africa Republic unchecked.
- - -

UK stuck with rebel negotiator
From Daily Monitor online at www.monitor.co.ug
By Tabu Butagira - Thursday, 09 September 2010
The UK government is stuck with a former top Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel negotiator after the High Court there blocked his planned deportation to Uganda for allegedly involving in terrorist activity.

A top Kampala official, however, said Mr Willy Oryem, in detention at Harmmondsworth Removal Centre since his arrest upon landing at Heathrow Airport on August 28, has never been “classified as a terrorist”.

“We have written to them (British government) to tell us why he has been arrested,” said Mr Oryem Okello, the state minister for International Affairs.

Ms Peggy Layoo, the suspect’s London solicitor, said her client who suffers from prostate cancer is in failing health after UK Border Agency (UKBA) officials allegedly confiscated his prescribed medicines.

“UKBA was hostile to Mr Oryem who is very vulnerable. He was denied access to a lawyer; made to sit for over 24 hours without rest and he was interviewed during that time when he was severely fatigued and ill,” Ms Layoo said in her application for judicial review.

Judge Sir Andrew Collins said the application for injunction was premature since UKBA had not formally authorised Mr oryem’s removal but no such action should be taken without addressing human rights concerns raised by the solicitor, and until a judge sanctions the deportation.

The basis of the application, Ms Layoo had said, was a breach of natural justice by the UKBA whose staff she told court acted unfairly and denied Mr Oryem the right to be heard or prepare his defence.

“Similarly, there is evidence of bad faith on the side of the Secretary of State [for the Home Department],” she wrote. Documents e-mailed to this newspaper show that High Court Judge, Justice Collins, ordered the Secretary of State, to “...answer the matters raised as soon as possible but must not remove the claimant (Mr Oryem) until an answer has been given and the claim has been referred back to a judge”.

Mr Chris Ward, the political officer/head of communications at the British High Commission in Kampala, confirmed Mr Oryem’s incarceration but gave no reason for the action.

“We cannot comment on the specific reasons for his detention [and] we are unable to comment, in general, on individual immigration cases,” he wrote in reply to our e-mail enquiry.

Our investigations show that Mr Oryem’s troubles emanate from a deal he reportedly cut directly with President Museveni, committing government to return his vast land in Kamokya, now occupied by several tenants, or pocket hefty compensation.

Both minister Okello-Oryem and solicitor Layoo, in accounts offered yesterday, suggested that the former administrator of the LRA peace negotiating team could be a victim of conspiracy orchestrated by his colleagues.

“Our thinking is that this is [a result of] an infighting within the LRA,” said Mr Okello-Oryem, who shares a surname but is not related to the suspect. “There are those who think they got a raw deal after the Juba peace talks and they are trying to antagonise and punish former colleagues perceived to have benefitted.”

The government of Uganda and the rebels, acting through envoys, engaged in dialogue from 2006-2008 in talks hosted by the Government of South Sudan to end the two-decade conflict peacefully. However, LRA leader Joseph Kony declined to sign the Final Peace Agreement citing safety concerns.

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