No recourse in African court for Rwandan Victoire Ingabire

Saturday March 05 2016

Rwanda has pulled out of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights on the grounds that the country has competent courts to try all local cases involving human-rights, an official has said.

The Arusha-based AfCHPR summoned the Rwandan government to a hearing of a case filed by opposition leader Victoire Ingabire.

Ms Ingabire, 47, who heads the unregistered political party FDU Inkingi, had dragged the government to the African court, accusing it of violating her rights and freedoms provided under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

READ: Jailed Rwandan opposition leader in plea to Arusha court

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

She is currently serving a 15-year 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 and denying the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.


In her application to the Arusha court, Ms Ingabire requested the annulment of court decisions taken since her arrest in 2010 until the pronouncement of the last judgment in the Supreme Court that gave her a 15-year jail term.

The hearing was supposed to be held on Wednesday last week, but the government did not send representatives, according to officials.

Instead, the government opted to pull out of the AfCHPR according to the officials.

“Rwanda no longer sees the need to be part of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights. Our courts have grown their capacity over the years and have the competence and efficiency to handle all local cases,” Theophile Mbonera, head of legal services at the Ministry of Justice said last week on Friday.

When asked whether the government pulled out of the court due to Ms Ingabire’s case, he told KFM that the “decision had been discussed over a long period of time”.

Previously, the government dismissed Ms Ingabire’s plea to the Arusha court, saying that it did not violate any of her rights and that she did not exhaust local remedies before approaching Arusha.

Application inadmissible

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.”

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

Meanwhile, the vice president of FDU Inkingi, Boniface Twagirimana, told The EastAfrican that the process of visiting Ingabire has been “made harder” after the management of the prison of Nyarungege, where Ingabire is serving her sentence, reduced the number of people supposed to visit her from five to one person per week.

She was also barred from vying in the 2010 presidential elections. She was also accused by the authorities of links with FDLR rebels.