British national Violette Uwamahoro, the pregnant wife of a political opposition activist living in exile, who was arrested by Rwandan authorities and held incommunicado, will make her first appearance in court at a bail hearing in the capital Kigali tomorrow, said Amnesty International.
Violette Uwamahoro, who lives in the UK with her two children, disappeared in Kigali on 14 February. She had returned to the country to attend her father’s funeral. She had just called a family member to let them know she was arriving at the city’s main bus station when her phone went dead.
Rwandan government officials initially denied knowledge of her whereabouts, before the police confirmed on 3 March that she was in their custody.
“Violette Uwamahoro was illegally held without access to lawyers or her family for more than two weeks. This is an unacceptable breach of Rwandan and international law,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region.
Posted at 0001hrs GMT 7 April 2014
The international community has collectively failed to act on the lessons of the Rwandan genocide, said Amnesty International today as the world marks the 20th anniversary of the human catastrophe which left around 800,000 dead.
“In 1994, the world was shamed when it turned a blind eye to the desperate cries for help coming from Rwanda. Africa and the rest of the international community wrung their hands as hundreds of thousands were slaughtered,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.
“The message is clear – this must never be allowed to happen again. Yet while leaders have accepted their mistakes, 20 years on it’s evident that the lessons have not been put into practice. Governments are still failing to take action to protect those in need in the looming catastrophes we face today.”
Twenty years later, echoes of the events in Rwanda are reverberating in the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan - and beyond.
Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire must be allowed an appeal that meets international fair trial standards after being convicted and sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment in October 2012, said Amnesty International in a new report released today.
The appeal, due to open today, must rectify a number of problems which occurred in the trial, as documented in “Justice in Jeopardy: The first instance trial of Victoire Ingabire.”
“Victoire Ingabire’s initial trial was flawed and international standards were flouted,” said Sarah Jackson, Acting Deputy Director of the Africa Programme.
Ingabire, President of the United Democratic Forces - Inkingi (FDU-Inkingi) was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison on 30 October 2012, on charges of conspiracy to harm the authorities using terrorism and minimizing the 1994 genocide.
From the start of investigations, President Paul Kagame made public statements in the media and through Twitter on Ingabire’s alleged culpability which were at odds with her right to the presumption of innocence.
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.