January 16, 2010 at 11:35 am #18772
Monday December 18 2006The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2006/dec/18/immigration.immigrationandpublicservices Until recently, John Guma-Komwiswa was living in two worlds. By day he had a good job. In the morning he would commute a short distance from his home in Bermondsey to Becket House, a central London office that works with asylum and immigration cases. There, as a senior caseworker, he dealt with the sea of bureaucracy attached to asylum cases from across the world – including, it seems, his native Uganda. What his employers may not have known was that during his spare time, Mr Guma-Komwiswa had a very different identity – a political post, in fact. As secretary-general for the UK and Ireland chapter of the National Resistance Movement (NRM), headed by Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, he was the figurehead in Britain for a grouping that helped the guerrilla general seize power in 1986 and rule the country. Now his professional and private life have been put on hold while a specialist team of Home Office investigators collaborate with police to probe allegations of corruption. One complaint, seen by the Guardian, states that three Ugandan asylum seekers’ cases were “frustrated and rejected” because of “direct malice or bad influence on the decision of their individual cases” by Mr Guma-Komwiswa. Investigators are likely to want to establish how a Ugandan political figure secured a role within the Immigration and Nationality Directorate and, crucially, whether any asylum claims were improperly influenced. Mr Guma-Komwiswa has been suspended from his job at the Home Office and has resigned from his political post at the NRM. But he said he was not concerned about the inquiry. “I’m not bothered at all. If there is no truth in what they’re saying, why should I be bothered? Obviously, you judge [asylum] on merit – that is Home Office procedure.” Mr Guma-Komwiswa’s two worlds collided at a meeting in Bermondsey this year, scheduled in the run-up to the first democratic elections in Uganda in 26 years in February. The Guardian has obtained a video of the meeting, held on February 11 for various political groupings within the Ugandan community to debate the forthcoming polls. The footage shows Mr Guma-Komwiswa sitting on a panel of seven political representatives from different parties, introduced by the chairman as “Mr Guma-Komwiswa of NRM”. Alex Oringa, an immigration lawyer with ties to Ugandan opposition groups, said he took his seat at the meeting, looked up, and saw someone he recognised from his asylum work. He raised a point of information. “I asked him to confirm whether he was the very Mr Guma who works in the Home Office,” he recalled. “I said, ‘How do you exercise impartiality deciding on their matters when you are identified so clearly with the regime?” In the months that followed, Mr Oringa filed two separate complaints to the immigration service’s complaints unit. He said that one Ugandan client’s immigration matters should not have been administered by a leading representative of the ruling party from the regime she was claiming to flee. Another client, he alleged, had been dissuaded from applying for asylum by Mr Guma-Komwiswa. It would take several months for an investigation to begin. One complainant, Sarah Male, a 47-year-old member of the high-profile royal family of the Ugandan kingdom of Buganda, told the Guardian: “I met him in a Weatherspoons pub in Forest Gate. He told me, ‘You know Sarah, what you need to do is go back to Museveni, you can’t claim asylum here.’ He was quarrelling with me, telling me that Museveni has to teach me. He told me there is no way I would get asylum here.” Another, Susan Mporampora, 21, said she was surprised to discover that a man she had met in a social context in Forest Gate, and had asked her questions about her asylum claim, turned out to be the Home Office official corresponding with her lawyers over immigration matters. Mr Guma-Komwiswa firmly denies any suggestions that he discouraged people from applying for asylum, or that he used his position to frustrate or reject applications. “Everything is total rubbish – it’s all lies,” he said. “From the people I have spoken to they have done this for political purposes. What do they hope to achieve by attacking an innocent individual?” The implications of the probe have spread to Uganda, where opposition leader Kizza Besigye, from the Forum for Democratic Change, has alleged that “Museveni’s spies” have infiltrated the Home Office. “The UK taxpayer’s money pays Museveni’s spies, they are sponsored on official missions,” he told a pan-African website based in New York, The Black Star News. Since 1998, more than 2,800 asylum applications from Ugandans were initially declined – 195 were granted refugee status or other leave to remain by the Home Office. In the last three quarters of this year, 95 Ugandans were initially refused asylum – none were granted refugee status.January 16, 2010 at 1:43 pm #25878
Corruption inquiry into asylum bias
Representative of Uganda’s ruling party denies blocking opponents’ applications, http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2006/dec/18/immigrationandpublicservices.immigration
* Paul Lewis
* The Guardian, Monday 18 December 2006
* Article history
John Guma-Komwiswa, former UK secretary general of the National Resistance Movement, Uganda’s ruling party
John Guma-Komwiswa (far right), former UK secretary general of the National Resistance Movement, Uganda’s ruling party. Photograph: David Nguru
The Home Office is investigating allegations that a representative of Uganda’s ruling party secured a job in the immigration service and blocked the asylum applications of political opponents.
John Guma-Komwiswa, of Bermondsey, south-east London, has been suspended from his post of senior caseworker pending an internal corruption inquiry by a specialist unit which is collaborating with police. He denies attempting to discourage or thwart the asylum bids of political opponents.
“These accusations are totally false and malicious,” he said. “There is no element of truth in any of it.” He has stepped down from the post as UK secretary general of the National Resistance Movement, Uganda’s ruling party, but denies there was any conflict of interest between his political post and job at the Home Office.
Investigators and police will want to determine whether he affected the outcome of asylum matters relating to fellow Ugandans while working at the Immigration Enforcement Office at Becket House, central London, and, if so, how he escaped internal vetting procedures designed to prevent corruption.
In a letter to the Home Office, a lawyer dealing with Ugandan asylum cases raises concerns “from a number of Ugandan asylum seekers who have had their cases frustrated and rejected” because of what they believe is Mr Guma-Komwiswa’s “malice and or bad influence”.
The shadow home secretary, David Davis, said: “If this case is proven, it will demonstrate that the meltdown at the Home Office has actually accelerated under John Reid. The IND [Immigration and Nationality Directorate] has suffered from serial failure ranging from its method of selecting staff to carry out sensitive duties, through to the complaint audit committee describing its method of investigating complaints of corruption as ‘superficial and defensive of staff’.”
During Mr Guma-Komwiswa’s eight years at the Home Office, more than 2,800 Ugandans have been declined initial refugee status; most of those will have been recommended for deportation. It is not clear how many, if any, of those cases he influenced or enforced.
Although Uganda held multi-party elections this year, the country has been accused of persecuting, harassing and torturing political dissidents.
In a statement, the Home Office said: “We can confirm that we are currently investigating allegations made against Mr Guma [-Komwiswa], including claims that he is discouraging individuals from applying for asylum. It would not be appropriate to comment further.”
The disclosure follows a recent Home Office sex-for-asylum scandal in which another immigration official was alleged to have offered to assist an 18-year-old Zimbabwean with her asylum claim in return for sex.
It is not known whether Mr Guma-Komwiswa declared his political affiliation to his employers. He said this week that he did not have the power to make final adjudications on asylum claims lodged by fellow Ugandans, but added: “I did deal with Ugandan [immigration] cases, but I did not know those people in person, so there was no conflict of interest whatsoever. Definitely, [the investigation] will exonerate me. I can guarantee that.”
In a letter from June last year, seen by the Guardian, Mr Guma-Komwiswa refused a Ugandan asylum seeker release from detention on various grounds. The complainant said she knew Mr Guma-Komwiswa from social gatherings of the Ugandan community.January 16, 2010 at 6:19 pm #25884
I just don’t buy that part of UK not knowing that Guma was/is a Uganda government operative or that he was in charge of the Ugandan assylum seekers running away from M7’s safe houses. I suspect that Britain maintains it’s conspiracy of many years to make the people of Buganda suffer. This is very important information for our survival as a people.January 16, 2010 at 6:23 pm #25885
From Uganda to the Home Office: the double life of a leading official
The implications of the probe have spread to Uganda, where opposition leader Kizza Besigye, from the Forum for Democratic Change, has alleged that “Museveni’s spies” have infiltrated the Home Office. “The UK taxpayer’s money pays Museveni’s spies, they are sponsored on official missions,” he told a pan-African website based in New York, The Black Star News.
Since 1998, more than 2,800 asylum applications from Ugandans were initially declined – 195 were granted refugee status or other leave to remain by the Home Office.
In the last three quarters of this year, 95 Ugandans were initially refused asylum – none were granted refugee status.
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