Ongoing persecution of critics and journalists arrested

Ongoing persecution of critics and journalists arrested

Association

Persecution for human rights violation critics

On 25th May 2021, opposition leaders Victoire Ingabire and Bernard Ntaganda criticised French President Emmanuel Macron for overlooking the human rights violations by the Rwandan regime. The opposition leaders claimed that Macron remains silent regarding Rwanda’s dictatorial rule but condemns other authoritarian regimes. As previously reported by the Monitor, Paul Rusesabagina, the former manager of Kigali’s Hôtel des Mille Collines faces nine offences including membership in a terrorist group and financing terrorism. On 18th June 2021, the prosecutor asked for a life sentence. Rusesabagina has not shown up for his trial since 12th March 2021, when the court rejected his request to have six months to prepare his defence. He cited that he “does not expect justice” as the reason for abandoning the process.

Expression

Freelance journalists sentenced to 10 years in prison

On 3rd May 2021, Human Rights Watch reported that Dieudonné Niyonsenga’s reporting on alleged military abuses has continued to cause him trouble since his release. As previously reported in the Monitor, Dieudonné Niyonsenga was freed on 13th March 2021 after the Gasabo Intermediate Court acquitted him of all charges. On 6t May 2021, seven men including Phocas Ndayizera, a freelance journalist were sentenced to 10 years in prison by the high court. Ndayizera was arrested in November 2018 with 12 other defendants and charged with terrorism. During his trial in October 2020, his lawyer claimed that Ndayizera was initially questioned in connection with his work as a journalist and his association with the BBC. In 2018, three journalists and a human rights defender alleged that his arrest was related to his work with BBC Rwanda. The Rwandan Investigation Bureau denied these allegations.

On 23rd May 2021, Cassien Ntamuhanga, an exiled journalist, was allegedly arrested by 10 plain-clothed officers who handed him over to the Rwandan embassy in Maputo. The officers confiscated his belongings including a laptop, phone, documents, refugee card and passport. The Mozambique Centre for Democracy Development fears that he has been extradited to Rwanda. Cassien Ntamuhanga, journalist and director of the confessional radio station Amazing Grace, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for conspiring against the government following a trial that started in 2014. He managed to flee to Mozambique in 2017 and has been living in exile.