Rwanda sending ‘chilling messages’ to dissenters

2014-01-28 11:02
Rwandan President Paul Kagame (Picture: AFP)

Rwandan President Paul Kagame (Picture: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kigali - Rwanda's track record of prosecuting politicians who criticise President Paul Kagame's government sends a chilling message to opposition figures and rights campaigners, a UN Special Rapporteur said on Monday.

Kagame, a rebel fighter-turned-statesman, has won plaudits for Rwanda's economic transformation since the 1994 genocide and for deploying peacekeepers to Africa's conflicts.

But his opponents and rights groups accuse him of trampling political and media freedoms, something the government denies.

Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai said that politicians who rejected what he called Kagame's 'consensus politics' ran into legal trouble, often facing charges of downplaying the genocide and sectarianism. Others who quit the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front party often faced corruption charges.

"In all such cases, these politicians are accused of violence or having links with violent groups," Kiai told reporters at the end on an eight-day trip at Rwanda's invitation.

"This sends a chilling and unacceptable message that peaceful public disagreement with the government is equivalent to criminality," said Kiai, a Kenyan who is Special Rapporteur on rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.

Two government spokespersons could not be reached for comment.

Security considerations

The United States said 10 days ago that it was deeply worried about threats made by Kagame about political opponents after one of his exiled critics was found murdered in a hotel room in South Africa.

Kagame and his administration flatly deny any involvement in the death of Patrick Karegeya, whose body, apparently strangled after a meeting with a mysterious business associate, was found in a posh Johannesburg hotel on New Year's Day.

Kiai applauded the leaps Rwanda has made developing infrastructure and ensuring stability in the two decades since ethnic Hutu militias massacred 800 000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus in just three months during the genocide.

But he said the political opposition needed to be able to operate without fear.

In December, Rwanda's supreme court extended the jail term of opposition politician Victoire Ingabire to 15 years from eight after she sought to overturn her initial conviction for trying to undermine the state and minimising the 1994 genocide.

"The legitimate combat against terrorism, and other security considerations, should not be used as a bogeyman to restrict the right to freely associate," Kiai said.

Read more on:    paul kagame  |  patrick karegeya  |  rwanda  |  rwandan 1994 genocide  |  east africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Top 10 richest musicians of all time

Check out the gallery to find out who they are!

 
 

Luxury living

10 of the most expensive things that will leave your jaw hanging!
Seven of the most expensive children's toys ever made
5 millionaires turned murderers
The youngest billionaires in the world and how they made it
Traffic Alerts
Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Innovation, idealism, romanticism and other far reaching dreams can lead you into a spiral of enthusiasm and excitement. Somewhere...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.