Rwanda: Allow freedom of expression
Since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda the government of President Paul Kagame has made security and the maintenance of order a top priority. As important as this goal is, it has resulted in political and press freedoms being unduly limited. Kagame and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) argue that this has been necessary in order to prevent the ideas that drove the genocide from taking root again. Unfortunately, the offense of ‘promoting genocide ideology’ has been very broadly defined by Kagame’s government and has resulted in the arrest, exile or killing of many political opponents and rivals.
The killings of a political opponent and a journalist in 2010 are examples of how people who criticize the authorities are often at risk. We believe the Rwandan government should re-open the investigation into the killings of Jean-Leonard Rugambage and André Kagwa Rwisereka by establishing two separate independent commissions of enquiry.
On 24 June 2010, Rwandan journalist and deputy editor of the Kinyarwanda newspaper Umuvugizi, Jean-Leonard Rugambage, was shot dead outside his home in Kigali. There is no evidence that Rwandan police have explored those leads into the killing that pointed towards it being politically motivated.
20 days later, on 14 July 2010, André Kagwa Rwisereka, vice president of the opposition Democratic Green Party, was found dead in Butare, southern Rwanda. He had been beheaded. No-one has been brought to justice for André Kagwa Rwisereka’s murder. The police opened an investigation, but the prosecution claim to have insufficient evidence to press charges.
Write to the Rwandan authorities, calling on them to:
- Allow opposition politicians, journalists, human rights defenders and others to express their views, including legitimate criticism of government policies, without fear for their safety.
- Accelerate the review of the 'genocide ideology' law and the 2009 media law to bring them in line with Rwanda’s obligations under international human rights law.
- Review laws on 'sectarianism' and 'insulting the president' to bring them in line with Rwanda’s obligations under international human rights law.
Mr Tharcisse Karugarama
Ministry of Justice
Fax: + 250 252 586 509
Office of the President
Fax: + 250 252 58 43 90