The government of Rwanda and the United States on Thursday concluded a ‘Status of Forces’ (SOFA) – signed at a function in Kigali.
A SOFA is a multilateral or bilateral agreement that generally establishes the framework under which U.S. military personnel operate in a foreign country and how domestic laws of that particular country apply toward U.S. personnel in that country.
Such an agreement may include many provisions, but the most common issue addressed is which country may exercise criminal jurisdiction over U.S. personnel. Other provisions that may be found in a SOFA include, but are not limited to, the wearing of uniforms, taxes and fees, carrying of weapons, use of radio frequencies, licenses, and customs regulations.
Signing at Rwanda’s foreign ministry headquarters in Kigali, was by US ambassador to Rwanda Peter Vrooman and Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Vincent Biruta. Defence Minister Maj Gen Albert Murasira witnessed the signing.
Dr Birura said: “This SOFA that we are signing today will be broader than the 2005 agreement and will cover U.S Personnel and US contractors who may be temporarily present in the territory of the Republic of Rwanda in connection with ship visits, training exercises, humanitarian activities, and other activities as mutually agreed.”
US envoy Vrooman said: “The signing of this agreement marks another milestone in strengthening the military cooperation between our two countries which has seen a significant rise, exemplified by the signature of the State Partnership Program with the State of Nebraska and its National Guard on December 12th, 2019.”
The US maintains SOFAs with many countries allowing them to be treated in specific way on the territories of the host countries.