Rwandan government continues to target opposition in exile.

The Rwandan government and authorities have continued to promote tough measures, such as surveillance and tracking, in dealing with persons deemed to be flouting COVID-19-related restrictions. This is despite recent international criticism of police violence against civilians in the past months when imposing the lockdown, as previously reported on the Monitor

Association

New details emerged in late-August 2020 related to the disappearance of Benjamin Rutabana, a member of the Rwandan National Congress – a Rwandan opposition party in exile. Rutabana has been missing since September 2019, after last being seen travelling from Brussels, Belgium to Kampala, Uganda. Ugandan authorities have repeatedly denied having Rutabana in their custody. However, a recent interview with a Rwandan soldier, who recently deserted, stated that Rutabana was killed after being handed over to Rwandan authorities.

Separately, on 1st September 2020, Paul Rusesabagina, a Rwandan opposition figure and outspoken critic living in Europe, was arrested and detained by Rwandan authorities. Rusesabagina is most known for protecting over 1,200 refugees during the Rwandan genocide, which was portrayed in the film ‘Hotel Rwanda’. An international arrest warrant was issued for Rusesabagina, who is accused of being the "founder, leader and sponsor of violent, armed, extremist terror outfits." President Paul Kagame has denied that he was kidnapped, instead stating that Rusesabagina arrived in Rwanda voluntarily. Concerns are already being raised about the fairness of the trial, with Rusesabagina’s family stating on 9th September that they were shocked to find a lawyer claiming to publicly represent him without their notification. On 14th September, Rusesabagina was formerly charged with terrorism and murder offences related to attacks by a rebel group. He denied all charges. On 15th October 2020, his foreign lawyers reported that their efforts to speak to him were frustrated by authorities after they unsuccessfully tried to get required clearance from the Rwanda Bar Association to be allowed to see their client.

Expression

On 14th August 2020, the University of Rwanda dismissed Aimable Karasira, a computer science lecturer, for political posts on his YouTube channel. The dismissal letter sent to Karasira stated that his political videos were controversial and countered professional values, ethics and obligations.

In other developments, more than six months after the death of Rwandan singer Kizito Mihigo in police custody, authorities are yet to hold a transparent investigation into his death. At the time of his death, as previously reported on the Monitor, authorities reported that Mihigo had “strangled himself”, however he had reported in the days before his arrest that he was at serious risk of being killed by state agents.