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Rwanda

2012



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.

Crisis in East Africa

Fifty-seven journalists fled their country in the past year, with Somalia sending the greatest number into exile. Journalists also fled Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Rwanda--mostly for Kenya and Uganda. Exiles in East Africa must grapple with poverty and fear. A CPJ special report by María Salazar-Ferro and Tom Rhodes

Somali journalists carry the body of Abdisalan Sheikh Hassan of Horn Cable TV who was killed in December 2011. Fear of violence is one of the top reasons why journalists flee into exile. (AFP/Mohamed Abdiwahab)

Talking about genocide prevention in the shadow of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camps brings an intense and unique gravity to the discussions. The academic presentations cannot extract themselves from the looming presence of the barbed wires and grim towers surrounding the Nazis' most infamous death factory.

New York, May 18, 2012--Authorities in Rwanda have imprisoned a radio presenter without charge since April 24 for allegedly uttering a phrase deemed offensive to the survivors and victims of the 1994 genocide, according to local reports and local journalists.

Authorities pursued an aggressive legal assault against critical journalists, using laws that ban insults against public officials and abusing anti-genocide laws to silence independent voices. President Paul Kagame’s close relations with Western governments continued to shield him from criticism over his administration’s poor press freedom record. In February, a panel of High Court judges sentenced two editors of the now-closed independent weekly Umurabyo to lengthy prison terms on charges of “genocidal ideology” related to articles detailing ethnic divisions in the security forces. In June, the Supreme Court sentenced in absentia Jean-Bosco Gasasira, editor of the independent Umuvugizi, to a prison term of two and a half years on insult charges stemming from an opinion piece that unfavorably compared Kagame to Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe. Gasasira had fled the country in 2010, joining one of the region’s largest press diasporas. Another independent weekly editor, Nelson Gatsimbazi, fled the country in September, also fearing imprisonment. The government’s aggressive actions left a subdued and largely state-dominated press landscape. A small number of critical websites remained, but they were subjected to regular government blocking.

Gasasira in exile. (Gasasira)

I must have received at least a dozen communications from worried friends and colleagues, asking the whereabouts of the chief editor of the highly critical Rwandan website, Umuvugizi. By mid-January, no one had heard from John Bosco Gasasira, nothing new had been published on Umuvugizi since January 11, and his cell phones were switched off. Last week, concerned colleagues wrote a public letter expressing concern over their missing colleague.

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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
Fax: 212-465-9568

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New York, NY, 10001 USA

Twitter: @africamedia_CPJ

Blog: Sue Valentine
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Blog: Peter Nkanga