2014 marked the twentieth anniversary of the Rwandan
genocide, a tragedy during which approximately a million people
lost their lives. On 7 April, the then Foreign Secretary, William
Hague, attended commemorations in Kigali in order to pay
tribute to the victims of the genocide, and to demonstrate the
UK’s commitment to Rwanda and the Great Lakes region.
Rwanda’s progress on economic and social development remains
impressive. However, the UK continues to have concerns about
civil and political rights. We continue to urge the Rwandan
government to address human rights concerns around freedom
of expression and political space.
In January, former Head of Rwandan Intelligence, Patrick
Karegeya, was found murdered in a hotel room in Johannesburg,
South Africa. In August, a South African court found four men
guilty of the attempted assassination of former Rwandan Army
Chief of Staff, Kayumba Nyamwasa. The judge concluded that
the crime had been “politically motivated” and had “emanated
from a certain group of people from Rwanda”. The UK is deeply
concerned by what appears to be a succession of acts of violence
against Rwandan opposition figures.
During April and May, dozens of local people in north-west
Rwanda were arrested and held incommunicado for up to two
months. Some were later charged with various offences against
state security, including collaborating with the Democratic Forces
for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an armed group in eastern
DRC with origins in the Rwandan genocide. The UK recognises
that Rwanda has the right to prosecute those who seek to use
violence against the state. In this case, however, the UK regrets
that due legal process was not followed.
In October, former presidential bodyguard, Joel Mutabazi, was
found guilty of treason and terrorism and sentenced to life in
prison. He has appealed and continues to argue that his forcible
return from Uganda did not respect due process. We call on the
Rwandan authorities to ensure that due process is followed.
Bernard Ntaganda, leader of opposition party PS-Imberakuri, was
released from prison in June after four years’ incarceration. We
continue to monitor the situation of other imprisoned political
leaders and activists, including Victoire Ingabire and Sylvain
Sibomana, both of the FDU Inkingi opposition party.
The UK believes that a free and vibrant media has an important
role to play in any democracy. Following the broadcast in
October of a BBC documentary about the Rwandan genocide,
the Rwandan authorities suspended the BBC’s Kinyarwanda
service and launched an inquiry. The UK recognises the hurt
caused in Rwanda by some parts of the documentary, but is
concerned by this decision, and urges the Rwanda government
to allow the BBC to resume its broadcasts as soon as possible.
The UK welcomed the freedom with which the East African
newspaper was able to operate. We noted with concern the
forced cancellation of talk shows on Isango Star and Contact FM,
and the arrest of two journalists from Salus Radio in 2014.
The UK welcomed, as an important step forward in tackling
impunity, the arrest and trial of two police officers in connection
with the July 2013 murder.