Uganda’s U.K. Diplomat Won’t Talk; Yet

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Yet, in a meeting that lasted more than 20 minutes, Uganda’s top UK diplomat refused to answer any question posed related to her dispute with the ex-domestic who is now gravely ill in a London hospital.

[Africa News Update]


Following a series of articles in The Black Star News about an ex-domestic employee she allegedly fired and left stranded in London, Uganda’s High Commissioner to U.K. has broken a two-months silence and invited this reporter for a meeting at her offices near Trafalgar Square to provide “correct information.”

Yet, in the meeting Wednesday that lasted more than 20 minutes, Uganda’s top UK diplomat declined to answer any question related to her dispute with the ex-domestic who is now gravely ill in a London hospital, saying the responses would come "at an appropriate time."

Separately, Alex Oringa, a lawyer representing the ex-domestic, Evelyn Karamagi, is now pursuing her case against High Commissioner Joan Rwabyomere in the High Court; the case had been before the Employment Tribunals, which does not hear criminal allegations.

Allegedly, Rwabyomere, who brought Karamagi from Uganda under a three-year contract to work as her domestic, fired her last August, within five months, without severance or return air fare back to Uganda; she also denied her access to medical treatment for her diabetic condition, allegedly.

The High Commissioner in a letter to the Employment Tribunals said she fired Karamagi for cause, citing poor work performance; Karamagi claims Rwabyomere fired her because she repeatedly demanded she be allowed access to medical care.

Oringa, with the firm of Graceland Solicitors, says litigation against the High Commissioner is for “abusing her position because of diplomatic immunity,” and violating Karamagi’s rights. “Our client did suffer gross abuse of her human rights through a deliberate act of her employee which has led to worsening medical condition for which she is presently hospitalized under grave threatening conditions,” says Oringa.

The High Commissioner, through Edwin Coe LLP Solicitors, had asked the Tribunals to throw out the case. In the meeting this week at Rwabyomere’s office, also attending were two officials, including deputy High Commissioner Mumtaz Kassam, and Jessica Magoba.

In the meeting when asked whether she has ever contacted Karamagi the High Commissioner said,
“Whether I spoke to her or not, the immediate concern is to let her family talk to her.”


“The purpose of this meeting is to establish contact with you, to give you the correct information,” said Rwabyomere. “I and her,” said the High Commissioner, gesturing at Kassam, the deputy, “we are lawyers but we always listen to both sides.” The message she was conveying with that remark wasn’t clear to this reporter.

At one point the High Commissioner also noted that Uganda this year is hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting; again, the relevance to the issue at hand wasn't clear.

“You have been constantly writing and listening to one side; now we hope you will constantly listen and write about the other side. Always listen to the other side at an appropriate time,” said Rwabyomere.


This reporter has called on every occasion he wrote a story about the case, seeking comment from the High Commissioner, but was either never granted access or kept on hold for as long as half an hour.

Rwabyomere in the meeting, said following articles in The Black Star News, a relative of Karamagi’s, Chris Kaijuka, had inquired about her. She then declined to answer further questions this reporter had prepared on a list.

“Any other question we can handle in due course and can be answered at an appropriate time; but the immediate, and what is important is for the family to know her physical address,” Rwabyomere said.

Later when told about Kaijuka, speaking from her hospital bed, Karamagi said, “I find everything Rwabyomere saying to be fishy. How can she mention or talk about Chris Kaijuka? He has nothing to do with my health. Why not my father who is still alive, but Kaijuka of all people.”

An official at the U.K.’s Diplomatic Mission and International Organization Unit (DMIOU), Tim Nottingham, said that he would review the case. “I want to look at the case in writing, and then I can comment,” he said.

Karamagi was taken in by a Ugandan Samaritan after she was fired last April. She had no money to return to Uganda; her diabetic condition worsened and she developed grave kidney ailments and was admitted August 17, 2007 to Newham University Hospital suffering renal disorder.

Karamagi’s three-year employment contract at $20,800 annual salary was signed by Karamagi and Rwabyomere “For And On Behalf of Uganda High Commission.”

She was to be employed beginning April 1, 2006 as a gardener and caretaker. Karamagi’s duties according to the contract were, “Taking care of and maintaining the garden and lawn at the official residence at 39 Ingram Avenue or any other official residence.”



 

Investigative news reporter Miwambo writes for The Black Star News from London. Send all news tips to
nosamiw03@hotmail.com



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