Rwanda tells off human-rights body over accusations of stifling opposition

Friday September 29 2017

Diane Rwigara

Ms Diane Rwigara. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By IVAN R. MUGISHA
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The Rwandan government has called the Human Rights Watch an “irrelevant and deceitful” organization that exploits situations in the country for financial gain.

This came after the human rights body Friday, in a statement, criticising Rwandan authorities for arresting, forcibly disappearing and threatening political opponents since the August presidential elections.

In particular, they referred to the arrest of Diane Rwigara, her mother and sister on September 22, with police saying it had uncovered credible evidence linking the trio to offences linked to state security.

Deputy Police spokesperson, Linda Nkuranga, confirmed on to The EastAfrican that Ms Rwigara is scheduled for a court hearing after her file handed over to the prosecution by the police.

She faces charges of forgery, tax evasion, treason, inciting public insurrection and creating an illegitimate movement.

It is not clear whether her mother, Adeline Rwigara, and sister, Anne Rwigara, face prosecution. Spokesperson for the National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA), Faustin Nkusi, was not available for comment by press time.

Human Rights Watch accused the government of cracking down on the opposition and being “unwilling to tolerate criticism or accept a role for opposition parties,” said Ida Sawyer, Central Africa director at HRW.

“With each arrest in Rwanda, fewer people will dare speak out against state policy or abuse,” she said, adding, “Rwanda’s donors and other international organisations should condemn this blatant clampdown on the political opposition.”

In response to the accusations, Louise Mushikiwabo, the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation, said that “Human Rights Watch is an irrelevant entity as far as Rwanda is concerned.

“The last report done by Human Rights Watch on Rwanda has names of people purportedly killed by security forces, yet they are alive and well,” she said.