South Africa issues warrants for two Rwandans in 2014 murder of ex spy chief

Association

Australia's national broadcaster reported that a network of alleged Rwandan spies has been working to suppress dissident refugees in the country. According to the report, expat and refugee Rwandans say silencing critics and suppressing support for opposition parties in exile are among the top priorities of the Rwandan Government. The spies arrive in the country as students as it is easier to obtain visas, while others are recruited after arriving in the country as genuine refugees having been threatened, blackmailed or coerced to become part of the intelligence network. The report also reveals that the Rwandan government has a broad network of spies in Europe tasked with tracking down opponents of the Rwandan regime. Enforced disappearances of government opponents remains common in Rwanda, often without investigation or accountability.

In other developments, in September 2019, South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority issued arrest warrants for two Rwandans accused of murdering Rwandan critic Colonel Patrick Karegeya, who was found dead in his hotel room in Johannesburg in 2014. From 1994 to 2004, Karegeya was the head of Rwanda’s external intelligence services, but he fell out with the government and was imprisoned twice before fleeing to South Africa in 2007 where he founded the exiled opposition party the Rwanda National Congress (RNC). Rwandan President Paul Kagame has long denied any involvement in the murder.

On 24th September 2019, it was reported that Syridio Dusabumuremyi, an official of the FDU-Inkingi partyhad been stabbed and murdered in an attack by two men at a shop where he worked. The murder raised concern over a string of unresolved murders of the party’s members.

Victoire Ingabire, leader of the unregistered but vocal FDU-Inkingi party, said:

"Our party deplores the assassination of its national coordinator, Mr Dusabumuremyi. He was savagely stabbed by two individuals this Monday shortly after 9 pm… After several unsolved assassinations of our party members, we have no hope that his murder will be fully investigated and solved”.

On a positive note, in July 2019 Rwanda voted in favour of extending the mandate of the United Nations LGBT rights watchdog for another three years at the U.N. Human Rights Council, one of only three African states to do so. The U.N. Human Rights Council in 2016 passed a resolution that created the LGBTI rights watchdog position.

Expression

In April 2019, the Supreme Court in Rwanda rejected a challenge to the law created in 2018 which maintains that it is a crime to insult the president. This means that anyone who insults President Kagame will face between five and seven years in prison. It has been argued that this law is unconstitutional as it undermines freedom of expression. However, the court ruled that the law will remain due to the responsibility that the office holds.

In September 2019, Burundian musician Jean Pierre Nimbona, popularly known as Kidum, was banned from playing at the upcoming Kigali Jazz Fusion festival. Although the Mayor of the city said that he had been banned for failing to seek permission to perform at this particular event, Kidum indicated that he was unsure about the reasons for the cancellation because three of his shows in Rwanda had been cancelled at the last minute since December 2018. Kidum is one of Burundi's biggest music stars and has performed in Rwanda for the past sixteen years. Kidum, who is now a freelance musician based in Nairobi, was a leading peace activist during Burundi's civil war between 1993 and 2003 and used his songs to call for reconciliation.