The security committee members in Namayingo district, led by the resident district commissioner, Deborah Mwesigwa, on Saturday held a meeting with officials from the Government of Kenya, where they agreed to hand over 29 Kenyan fishermen for prosecution in their home country, over illegal fishing on the Ugandan side of lake Victoria and possession of illegal fishing gears.
The suspects were on 30th January, 2023 arrested by the Busoga East marine police unit personnel while fishing along Sigulu island, in Namayingo district.
The suspects were tasked to provide police with proof of tax payment to URA, which would offer them clearance to freely fish in the Ugandan waters, which they didn’t have.
This prompted their arrest and detention at Namayingo central police station for further interrogation, where all of them confessed to having illegally accessed the country without requisite documents.
Mwesigwa says that following cooperation between the suspects and the police detectives, she resolved to engage Kenyan government authorities, who resolved to ensure their extradition for trial in Kenya.
Mwesigwa notes that unlike in Uganda where both marine police and fisheries protection unit -FPU personnel are deployed to regulate the use of illegal fishing gear, fishermen in Kenya still operate freely and at times access Ugandan waters, which prompts their arrest.
On his part, Ruto Chepchumba, the Busia county commissioner, says that the suspects will undergo full trial under the Kenyan law on fisheries, adding that they will serve as an example to their colleagues who have become perennial trespassers into Ugandan waters, without observing the set security protocols.
Chepchumba further hailed Ugandan authorities for exercising the spirit of brotherhood in handing over the suspects, adding that such peaceful ways of dispute resolution will strengthen the already existing harmony between the two countries at both the water and mainland border points.