Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Rwanda: STATEMENT ON THE CRIMINAL CASE AGAINST THE AUTHORS OF ‘RWANDA BRIEFING’

By Dr. Gerald Gahima
Washington, D.C. USA
January 3, 2011


The Rwanda Government today brought up the criminal case that it has instituted against the authors of ‘Rwanda Briefing’ for hearing. The trial, conducted in absentia, was held by a military court sitting in Kigali.

We again take this opportunity to deny the charges that the Rwanda Government has instituted against us in their entirety. We unequivocally refute the allegations that we have been involved in any criminal activities intended to destabilize Rwanda. We have no doubt that the respective governments of the states in which we have sought refuge can confirm that we are not involved in the alleged criminal activities.

As the prosecution service itself admitted in court, the evidence against the defendants comprises publications, including the ‘Rwanda Briefing’ document, and statements that the defendants have made in interviews with international media. Our only crime is that we have exercised our right of freedom of expression, a right protected by both Rwanda’s Constitution and international human rights treaties to which Rwanda is a party. The case against us is yet another manifestation of the use of the country’s justice system to persecute critics of President Kagame’s stewardship of the Rwanda state. The case against the defendants is an act of desperation to which the Government of Rwanda has resorted following multiple failures to assassinate Col. Patrick Karegeya and Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa. The instant case aims not only to silence the defendants, but also to stifle freedom of expression in regard to Rwanda’s record on issues relating to democratic governance in general. The case seeks to intimidate the people of Rwanda in general, and all champions of political reform in particular, in order to undermine the growing momentum of political opposition and demands for democratic change.

The parties to this case have no reason to expect a fair trial before the military court seized with the case. As the decision to remove and suspend from duty Brigadier Steven Karyango and Lt. Colonel Marc Sebaganji, the judges who acquitted Col. Deogen Mudenge, and the illegal incarceration of Lt. General Charles Muhire and Lt. Colonel Rugigana Ngabo have demonstrated, Rwanda’s military justice system does not meet international recognized standards of requirements for a competent, independent and impartial tribunal.

The case against the defendants is not an isolated instance of the use of justice and law enforcement institutions to suppress political opposition. President Kagame uses judicial and law enforcement institutions to suppress legitimate demands for opening up the political space and institution of democracy and the rule of law. Institutions of the state continue to subject real and imagined critics of the government to a wide range of human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests and detentions, involuntary disappearances and extrajudicial killings, as the cases of Bernard Ntaganda, Victoire Ingabire, Andrew Rwisereka, Rugambage and John Rutayisire have demonstrated during the recent past.

We believe that democracy is a pre-requisite for lasting peace in Rwanda. Respect of the right of freedom of expression is central to strategies for enhancing political participation and promoting democracy in Rwanda, as elsewhere. We reiterate our collective determination to continue to exercise our right to speak out on issues concerning Rwanda’s governance and to advocate for peaceful transition to democracy. We also take this opportunity to encourage all Rwandans not to be discouraged by the Rwanda Government’s abuse of the justice system to suppress our people’s aspirations for democratic change. We urge all Rwandans to continue to struggle for democratic change and for respect for fundamental liberties.

This statement is issued on my own behalf and on behalf of Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa, Col. Patrick Karegeya and Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa.

Dr. Gerald Gahima
January 3, 2011.
Washington, D.C. USA

Submitted by: Jennifer Fierberg, MSW

Related Materials:
Rwanda: Rwanda puts Nyamwasa and dissident exiles on trial

Rwanda: Pathway to Peaceful Change- Rwanda National Congress Interim Policy
 
Proclamation Establishing the Rwanda National Congress

Rwanda Briefing by Nyamwasa & Co.

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