Twenty four Kenyan fishermen who were arrested by the Ugandan Authorities have been released. The suspects are part of the 29 suspects who were arrested on January 29 this year while operating in Ugandan waters illegally.
Speaking to the press after the release of the culprits, Namayingo Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Deborah Mugerwa said that the fishermen were found operating in Namayingo side without licenses besides using illegal fishing gears.
“The following day we released five minors, we were preparing a file to take them to our Uganda courts of law but we received a call from the County Commissioner Busia Kenya,” she said, adding that the decision to release the suspects was reached after a bi-lateral meeting between representatives of the two countries.
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Mugerwa explained that Uganda has laws governing the fishing communities and are very keen on enforcing the same.
She explained that Kenyan fishermen have to acquire licenses from the Ugandan authority and have the legally recommended gears in order to operate in the neighboring country.
‘”They were using solar lamps against the laws of Uganda,” she said, warning that those found fishing illegally on Uganda waters will face the full force of the law.
Busia Acting County Commissioner Kipchumba Ruto urged the fishermen to ensure that they have both Kenyan and Ugandan licenses in order to operate in the lake.
“If you make a mistake of operating without a license, you will be arrested,” he told the suspects, warning that the County security team will not intervene again on their behalf.
Ruto advised the suspects to ensure that they do not use illegal nets and other unauthorized gears within the lake.
He at the same time urged the fishermen to ensure that they have the lifesaving jackets on whenever they are venturing into the lake.
The CC further stated that there has been exchange of suspected arrested illegal fishermen by the two countries in the recent past. “We have lived together since time immemorial and have been assisting in various areas especially in business matters,’’ said the Ag CC.
He urged Kenyan fishermen to respect the existing laws of both countries with a view to avoiding unnecessary conflicts.
“We are taking them to Kenya to investigate them further and charge their bosses,” he said, adding that the suspects will be used as witnesses.
The CC further said that his team will also sensitize Kenyan fishermen on Uganda laws so that they avoid operating without licenses.
“We are grateful to the RDC Namayingo and RDC Busia because they have been very understanding whenever we approach them,” he said, adding that the Kenyan security have also been releasing Ugandan fishermen in conflict with the law unconditionally.