Jailed Rwandan opposition leader in plea to Arusha court

Friday February 26 2016

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights will on March 3 hear a plea filed by Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire, who has accused the government of violating her freedoms and denying her a fair trial.

Ingabire, 47, is currently serving a 15-year in jail sentence handed to her by the Supreme Court in 2013, which found her guilty of inciting revolt, forming armed groups to destabilise the country, as well and denying the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

It is not yet known whether the government will allow Ms Ingabire to travel to Arusha for the hearing, or whether she will be represented by her lawyers.

It is also not clear whether the government, which is the defendant in this hearing, will send representatives to Arusha.

Minister for Justice Johnston Busingye was not available for comment by press time. In her application to the court, Ms Ingabire accused the government of violating her rights and freedoms provided under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

She also requested the annulment of decisions taken since her arrest in 2010 until the pronouncement of the last judgment in the Supreme Court that gave her 15 years in prison.


She also hopes that the court will force the Rwandan government to release her on parole as well as incur the cost of reparations.

The government, however, dismissed Ms Ingabire’s plea, saying that it did not violate any of her rights.

The government maintained that her application to the African court is inadmissible as it “does not satisfy the conditions for admissibility in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”

It also said that Ms Ingabire did not exhaust local remedies before approaching the African Court.

Ms Ingabire heads the political party FDU Inkingi, which is not yet registered in Rwanda.

She returned to Rwanda in 2010, after spending close to two decades abroad, but was arrested soon after on suspicion that she was spreading genocide ideology.

Ms Ingabire was condemned to eight years and later 15 years’ imprisonment by the High Court and the Supreme Court respectively.

She was barred from vying in the 2010 presidential elections after being accused of incitement to genocide, conspiracy to form an armed group to threaten state security and propagating ethnic divisions. She was also accused by the authorities of links with FDLR rebels.