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Rwandan President Paul Kagame and First Lady Janet Kagame lay a wreath at a genocide memorial in Kigali on April 7. (AFP/Simon Maina)

"Do not forget the genocide," said the voice of a state broadcast announcer in Kigali crackling through a cheap car radio, referring to the organized slaughter 20 years ago of more than 10 percent of the population. "We are all one now," he said, speaking in Rwanda's common language of Kinyarwanda, and meaning that Rwandans no longer identify themselves as being either Hutu or Tutsi.

An international journalist was denied entry to Rwanda after discovering that a pro-government Twitter account had been falsified by someone within the office of President Paul Kagame, pictured. (Reuters/Ruben Sprich)

"@RFI speak straight up English, frenchie!! U crying? U started not to make sense," was one taunting tweet from a certain prolific Twitter account belonging to "Richard Goldston." The account, since deleted, belonging to a self-proclaimed "anti-imperialist," repeatedly antagonized Radio France Internationale journalist Sonia Rolley for her critical coverage of the deaths of Rwandan government officials-turned-dissidents.

After a decade of unprecedented growth and development, the insistence on positive news remains a significant threat to press freedom in sub-Saharan Africa. By Mohamed Keita

A newspaper displayed in the Ikoyi district of Lagos on September 30, 2013, tells of a deadly attack on a college in northeast Nigeria by suspected Boko Haram militants. Coverage of the group can be sensitive in Nigeria. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)
A newspaper displayed in the Ikoyi district of Lagos on September 30, 2013, tells of a deadly attack on a college in northeast Nigeria by suspected Boko Haram militants. Coverage of the group can be sensitive in Nigeria. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

Two Rwandan journalists were released from prison in June and July 2013 after completing their jail terms, according to news reports.

Somalis, Syrians flee violence; Iran crackdown deepens

Fifty-five journalists fled their homes in the past year with help from the Committee to Protect Journalists. The most common reason to go into exile was the threat of violence, such as in Somalia and Syria, two of the most deadly countries in the world for the profession. Others fled the threat of prison, especially in Iran, where the government deepened its crackdown ahead of elections. A CPJ special report by Nicole Schilit

Syrians take shelter at a refugee camp near the border with Turkey. (Reuters/Muhammad Najdet Qadour/Shaam News Network)

Nairobi, March 26, 2013--An appellate court judge in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, on Monday upheld the criminal conviction of an editor who is serving a one-year prison sentence in connection with an opinion column, according to local journalists.

President Paul Kagame used his August address before the East African Community Media Summit to cast the domestic press “as an important partner in our country’s development” while accusing Western journalists of misrepresentation that “derails our progress or even fuels conflict.” The dual theme--calling on domestic journalists to advance a government agenda while depicting international news media as adversaries--has become common among regional leaders. But critical journalists are seen as foes, not partners, by Kagame’s government. The authorities have engaged in several years of aggressive harassment of critical journalists, forcing many into exile, landing some in prison, and sowing self-censorship among the rest. CPJ identified three imprisoned journalists when it conducted its annual worldwide survey on December 1, and at least two others who were detained for significant periods during the year. Red lines appeared to be easily crossed and harshly punished: The authorities detained a radio presenter for nearly 100 days after the journalist mistakenly used a phrase deemed offensive to survivors of the 1994 genocide. Although Kagame spoke in support of media reform at the summit, three bills backed by the Rwandan press remained stalled in parliament. The bills would provide access to government information, create a media ombudsman independent of the government, and establish a public broadcaster.

Saidati Mukakibib, left, and Agnes Uwimana Nkusi sit in Rwandan Supreme Court in January 2012. (AFP/Steve Terrill)

Among the 232 journalists imprisoned around the world are Rwandan editors Agnès Uwimana and Saidati Mukakibibi, who are serving years-long terms on charges they defamed the president, Paul Kagame, and incited violence. Their crime? The women had published a series of stories in 2010 on several sensitive issues the Kagame government doesn't want scrutinized. The articles criticized government agricultural policy, examined the July 2010 murder of journalist Jean-Léonard Rugambage, described the falling-out between Kagame and two now-exiled military leaders, probed divisions within the army, and pushed for justice for ethnic Hutus killed in the 1994 genocide. The editors have exhausted domestic appeals, but now a team of defense lawyers is pursuing a complaint with the African Commission on Human and People's Rights on grounds that Rwanda violated its obligations to ensure freedom of expression and the right to fair trial.

(Stanley Gatera)

Nairobi, November 15, 2012--An appellate court in Rwanda should overturn the prison sentence handed to the editor of a private weekly on Wednesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. CPJ also urges authorities to release Stanley Gatera, editor of the Kinyarwandan-language paper Umusingi, pending his planned appeal.

The Gasabo Intermediate Court in the capital, Kigali, sentenced Gatera, 22, to a one-year jail term and fines of 30,000 Rwandan francs (US$50) for inciting divisionism and gender discrimination in an opinion column he published in Umusingi in June, according to local journalists and news reports. The state prosecutor said in court that the article broke the country's laws about referring to ethnic identities, local journalists told CPJ. The Rwandan penal code includes crimes that carry prison terms for individuals who speak too provocatively about ethnicity, news reports said.

Idriss Gasana Byiringiro was arrested on Tuesday. (The Chronicles)

Nairobi, July 18, 2012--Police in Kigali are holding a newspaper reporter whose employer had earlier filed a complaint alleging that security agents had seized and interrogated him, according to news reports.

On Tuesday, police arrested Idriss Gasana Byiringiro, a political reporter for the private weekly Chronicles, on suspicion of providing false information, the paper reported. The journalist has not been allowed access to his family or a lawyer, according to news reports and local journalists. No formal charges have been publicly disclosed.

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Killed in Rwanda

17 journalists killed since 1992

17 journalists murdered

15 murdered with impunity

Attacks on the Press 2012

3 Critical journalists imprisoned on December 1.

Country data, analysis »

Contact

Africa

Program Coordinator:
Sue Valentine

Advocacy Coordinator:
Mohamed Keita

East Africa Consultant:
Tom Rhodes

West Africa Consultant:
Peter Nkanga

svalentine@cpj.org
mkeita@cpj.org
trhodes@cpj.org
pnkanga@cpj.org

Tel: 212-465-1004
ext. 117
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