Annual Report: Rwanda 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Rwanda 2013

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  • On 5 April, the Supreme Court reduced the prison sentences of Agnes Uwimana Nkusi, editor of the private Kinyarwanda tabloid newspaper Umurabyo, and her deputy editor, Saidati Mukakibibi, to four and three years respectively. In February 2011, the women were sentenced to 17 and seven years in prison respectively for publishing opinion pieces criticizing government policies and alleging corruption in the run-up to the 2010 presidential elections. The Supreme Court cleared Agnes Uwimana Nkusi of “genocide ideology” and “divisionism” charges but upheld a conviction for defamation. For both women, the sentence for threatening national security was reduced.

Unfair trial

Victoire Ingabire, President of the United Democratic Forces (FDU-Inkingi), was sentenced to eight years in prison on 30 October. She had returned to Rwanda in January 2010 after 16 years in exile. She had hoped to register FDU-Inkingi prior to the August 2010 presidential elections, before she was first arrested in April 2010.

Despite international scrutiny, the trial was marred by violations of due process. The court failed to test evidence brought by the prosecution. Confessions of two co-accused incriminating Victoire Ingabire were made after a prolonged period of detention in a military camp where Amnesty International has documented allegations of the use of torture to coerce confessions. A defence witness claimed he had been held in military detention with one of the co-accused and alleged that the individual's confession had been forced.

In the build-up to the trial, official statements were made by the Rwandan authorities which posed problems in relation to Victoire Ingabire's presumption of innocence. The freedom of expression charges lacked a clear legal basis and certain charges were based on pieces of imprecise and broad Rwandan legislation punishing “genocide ideology” and “discrimination and sectarianism”. The accused was not treated fairly during the trial and was regularly interrupted and subject to hostility.

Freedom of association

Certain political parties had still not been able to register. Members of political opposition parties reported being harassed and intimidated, and some were imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of association.

  • On 27 April, the Supreme Court upheld charges against Bernard Ntaganda, president of the Ideal Social Party (PS-Imberakuri). He is currently serving a four-year prison sentence after being found guilty on 11 February 2011 of “divisionism” for making public speeches criticizing government policies ahead of the 2010 elections, breaching state security and attempting to plan an “unauthorized demonstration”.
  • Eight members of Victoire Ingabire's FDU-Inkingi party – predominantly teachers and students – were arrested in September, after holding a meeting where they reportedly discussed development and education issues. They were charged with inciting insurrection or trouble among the population and remanded in pre-trial detention. One was released before the end of the year.

International justice

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Trial Chamber transferred its first case to Rwanda, that of former Pastor Jean Uwinkindi. Several other cases were also transferred in 2012. Two ICTR staff were assigned to monitor referral cases on a temporary basis, pending agreement on trial monitoring with the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights. They were required to file monthly reports through the Registry to the President of the ICTR, or the President of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, as appropriate.

Universal jurisdiction

Judicial proceedings against genocide suspects took place in Belgium, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands.