Vague laws used to criminalise criticism of government
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE August 31 2010
Rwanda: Vague laws used to criminalise criticism of government
Rwanda's new government must urgently review vague 'genocide ideology' and 'sectarianism' laws that are being used to suppress political dissent and stifle freedom of speech, Amnesty International said in a report released today.
Safer to Stay Silent: The Chilling Effect of Rwanda's Laws on 'Genocide Ideology' and 'Sectarianism' details how the vague wording of these laws is misused to criminalize criticism of the government and legitimate dissent by opposition politicians, human rights activists and journalists.
“The ambiguity of the 'genocide ideology' and 'sectarianism' law means Rwandans live in fear of being punished for saying the wrong thing,” said Erwin van der Borght, Africa Program director at Amnesty International. “Most take the safe option of staying silent.”
Amnesty International found that many Rwandans, even those with specialist knowledge of Rwandan law including lawyers and human rights workers, were unable to precisely define 'genocide ideology'. Even judges, the professionals charged with applying the law, noted that the law was broad and abstract.
In the lead-up to the August 9 presidential elections two opposition candidates were arrested and charged, among other things, with 'genocide ideology'. A newspaper editor was also arrested on the same charge.
The BBC and VOA have both been accused of disseminating 'genocide ideology' by the government. These accusations led to the suspension of the BBC Kinyarwanda service for two months from April 2009.
At a local level individuals appear to use 'genocide ideology' accusations to settle personal disputes. These laws allow for the criminal punishment even of young children under 12, as well as parents, guardians or teachers convicted of “inoculating” a child with “genocide ideology”. Sentences for convicted adults range from 10 to 25 years imprisonment.
The 'genocide ideology' and 'sectarianism' laws were introduced to restrict speech that could promote hatred in the decade following the 1994 genocide. Up to 800,000 Rwandans were killed in the genocide, mostly ethnic Tutsi, but also Hutu who opposed the organized killing. Prohibiting hate speech is a legitimate aim, but the approach used by the Rwandan Government has violated international law.
The Rwandan government announced a review of the 'genocide ideology' law in April 2010. The government should also launch a review of the 'sectarianism' law and demonstrate a new approach to freedom of expression in order to stem the chilling effect of past legislation.
The Rwandan government must significantly amend the laws, publicly express a commitment to freedom of expression, review past convictions and train police and prosecutors on how to investigate accusations.
“We hope that the government review will result in a meaningful revision of the 'genocide ideology' and 'sectarianism' laws so that freedom of expression is protected both on paper and in practice,” said Erwin van der Borght.
Bombshell UN report leaked: 'Crimes of genocide' against Hutus in Congo
The striking conclusion of a new draft UN report is that violence perpetrated by Rwandan President Paul Kagame's and Congolese President Laurent Kabila's forces against Hutus could constitute 'crimes of genocide.'
By Jason Stearns, Guest blogger / August 26, 2010 http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/Africa-Monitor/2010/0826/Bombshell-UN-report-leaked-Crimes-of-genocide-against-Hutus-in-Congo
General Paul Kagame is painting a grim picture of democracy
I was surprised to read in your August 19, 2010 the apology of the so-called Rwandan democracy by General Paul Kagame in his “Rwanda's democracy is still the model for Africa”. This irony is exactly what Franz Neumann said some time ago: "If the concepts 'enemy' and 'fear' constitute the 'energetic principles' of politics, a democratic political system is impossible, whether the fear is produced from within or without. If freedom is absence of restraints, the restraints to be removed are many, but the psychological restraint of fear ranks first."...
This is a letter of Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, the chairperson of FDU Inkingi. You find the entire letter in attachment or you can access to it on our website by clicking the corresponding link in this message.
Ishyaka PS Imberakuri rifite umugambi wo gusura imfungwa zose za Politike zafunzwe zizira kutavuga rumwe na Leta ya Kigali iyobowe na FPR Inkotanyi ndetse n'abanyamakuru bigenga bafunzwe mu rwego rwo kwereka abafunze ko tubatekerezaho yewe tukanereka FPR ko tubabajwe n'ifungwa ryabo banyapolitiki bazira kudahuza ibitekerezo na FPR,iki gikorwa turagiteganya kugikora kuwa 03/09/2010 ariko nabwo byashoboka bikaba ngarukacyumweru.
Iki gikorwa cyatuma habaho no kugomeza guhuza abarwanashyaka kuko habaho gusimburana mu kugikora byatuma kandi n'amahanga arushaho kubona ikibazo cy'uRwanda,ariko mu kugikora dufite impungenge ko gishobora kutagenda neza nk'uko tubyifuza dushingiye kubyo muza kubona hasi.
Ntawe uhisha uwo ahishaho ubushake n'ubushobozi bushingiye ku bumenyi turabufite ariko ubushobozi bushingiye ku mikoro ntabwo dufite bitewe cyane n'ifungwa ry'umuyobozi w'ishyaka, kutagira akazi ku barwanashyaka yewe n'ukagize bikamenyekana ko ari umurwanashyaka w'Ishyaka ritavuga rumwe na Leta bucya yirukanwe kandi iyo usubije amaso inyuma usanga hari intambwe yarimaze guterwa ni nayo mpamvu tubandikiye tubasaba inama ndetse n'inkunga ishingiye ku mikoro.
Gusura abo bantu twavuze haruguru birasaba ubushobozi kuko nk'uko namwe mubizi ntitwabageraho gutyo gusa ngo tubiyereke maze dutahe,ikindi nk'uko twabivuze Leta ya Kigali yaduhinduye abatindi bikaba byatuma hari abarwanashyaka badashobora kumenya iki gikorwa yewe ndetse n'ibindi bitandukanye bikaba byatuma nabakitabira baba bake bitewe n'impamvu twavuze haruguru.
Ibi n'ibibazo bidukomereye cyane kandi biramutse bikemutse n'ibitari byagerwaho twabigeraho. Ikibidutera kugeza ubu nuko ntakazi tugira (abenshi muli twe, n'abanyseshuli muli kaminuza, ducungira kuli ka bourse iyo twakabonye), n'abakayaduhaye babaye abanzi bacu ngo hato FPR itamubonana natwe ikaba yanamufunga. Ikindi twabaye abanzi b'imiryango dukomokamo kubera ishyaka kuburyo benshi batwita ibyihebe. Ariko kwangwa, guterwa ubwoba gutukwa kwirukanwa ku mashuri ku banyeshuri byo ni isezerano abenshi twibitseho ko tuzirukanwa umwaka nurangira kuko twamaganye FPR ariyo iturihira nta nubwo bibuka ko bourse ari iz'igihugu atari iz'ishyaka. Ibi byose turabizi turanabyiteze ntibiteze kudusubiza inyuma na gato ahubwo ibibazo navuze haruguru nibyo biduteye ubwoba kuko bikomeje icyo twatangiye duharanira ntitwakigeraho ari nako ingaruka ziyongera.
Urugamba turiho n'urwaburi wese ukeneye impinduka mu Rwanda ni nayo mpamvu tubandikiye kugirango tugomeze kurufatanya ejo hatagira abazatererana abandi kandi twabonaga ruri hafi kurangira.