Prominent government critic released from jail, journalist dies in mysterious accident
In positive developments, former manager of Kigali’s Hôtel des Mille Collines and vocal government critic Paul Rusesabagina was released from prison in March 2023 after authorities commuted his sentence of 25 years on terrorism charges. As previously documented on the Monitor, the court sentenced Rusesabagina to 25 years’ imprisonment in September 2021, sparking criticism from human rights organisations, the US state department and Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmès. His release came after intervention of the US government, where he is a resident.
#Rwanda #Media: le journaliste John Williams Ntwali est mort ds un accident de voiture mercredi selon @Rwandapolice. Il avait disparu dps plusieurs jours selon sa famille citée par BBC. Ds ce reportage @MalcolmWebb, il parle des risques à faire son métier https://t.co/m6WO3ZNtZm pic.twitter.com/Zt5YdiVvto— Sonia Rolley (@soniarolley) January 19, 2023
On 19th January 2023, Rwanda police confirmed the death of 43-year-old famous journalist John Williams Ntwali in a road accident, after a speeding vehicle rammed the motorcycle on which he was riding as a passenger. Ntwali was the founder of the YouTube channel Pax TV- IREME News and editor of the private The Chronicles newspaper and was vocal about human rights violations in the country. He had previously received death threats, and had expressed concern for his life just days before his death. over 86 civil society organisations called for impartial investigations into the death of the journalist, highlighting the lack of transparency in the police investigations.
In separate developments, on 16th December 2022, the Rwamagana chamber of the High Court sentenced Théophile Ntirutwa, a member of the unregistered Dalfa-Umurinzi opposition party, to seven years’ imprisonment. The sentence followed his arrest in May 2020 after a violent incident occurred outside his shop where a man was stabbed to death. Ntirutwa was acquitted of the criminal charges relating to the incident but convicted of "spreading false information or harmful propaganda with intent to cause a hostile international opinion against the Rwandan Government” in relation to phone calls he made to his party leader and a journalist accusing the police and military of attempting to assassinate him during the incident.
Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said:
“The conviction of yet another political opponent for allegedly seeking to create hostility against Rwanda demonstrates the high price of getting involved in politics in Rwanda… It’s all the more astounding because Rwanda currently chairs the Commonwealth, which holds itself out as a champion of rule of law and good governance.”