The issue of China sending Ugandans to the gallows for trafficking drugs proved contentious on account of the good bilateral relations between the two countries
A day after news broke that 40 Ugandans are languishing in jails in Zimbabwe, the minister of state for foreign affairs, Henry Okello Oryem, says Ugandans who breach laws in foreign lands should not expect anything from the government beyond consular services.
While meeting Uganda’s representatives to the Pan African Parliament last week, Moses Ssentongo, the leader of a section of Ugandans in South Africa revealed that those in detention had sought to enter South Africa without valid travel documents.
Ssentongo had appealed to the lawmakers to bring the plight of his colleagues to the Ugandan government since there was no sign that authorities in Harare were planning to give them a hearing in the courts of law.
In a telephone interview with New Vision on Monday, Oryem said the plight of Ugandans in Zimbabwean jails had come to the government’s attention after The New Vision ran an article in Monday's newspaper.
“We intend to send a consular officer to appraise their situation. This will be done this week,” Oryem said.
“We normally tell Ugandans travelling to foreign lands to always respect the laws of host countries. Those in Zimbabwean jails are not saints. No one should deceive you,” Oryem added.
In warning Ugandans in foreign lands to adhere to the laws of countries they find themselves, Oryem was inadvertently echoing the words of former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi.
During his stint as Prime Minister, the issue of China sending Ugandans to the gallows for trafficking drugs proved contentious on account of the good bilateral relations between the two countries.
Instead, Mbabazi while fielding questions from lawmakers at Parliament said in no uncertain terms that those Ugandans who run afoul of the law in foreign lands should not expect any help from the government beyond consular services.
Consular assistance is help and advice provided by the diplomatic agents of a country to citizens of that country who are living or travelling overseas.
The diplomats may be honorary consuls or members of the country's diplomatic service.
Oryem confirmed that Uganda does not have a mission in Harare, saying the country is ‘superintended’ over by “our mission in Pretoria.”