December 17, 2018

Press Freedom

Rwanda

OPC Urges Rwanda to End Repressive Policies

H.E. Paul Kagame

President

Office of the President

Urugwiro Village

P.O. Box 15

Kigali

Republic of Rwanda

Fax: (011.250) 84390


Your Excellency:


Last August, we wrote to you protesting the extreme measures taken by your government to silence the press in the run-up to your election. These measures included the shutting down of publications and radio stations, the jailing of journalists and, perhaps, even the murder of one, Jean-Léonard Rugambage, deputy editor of Umuvugizi.


Now we read that two of the journalists arrested last year and jailed since July have been sentenced to lengthy jail terms on charges that would be laughed out of court in a democracy. As you know, the journalists are Agnes Uwimana, editor of the weekly, Umurabyo, sentenced to 17 years, and her deputy, Saidati Mukakibibi, sentenced to 7 years. One can be thankful, perhaps, that these sentences were much less than what the state prosecutor had requested.


The charges against the two reporters, stemming from opinions they had expressed in their newspaper, included inciting civil disobedience, spreading false rumors, insulting the president, and challenging the official view of the genocide. A more tolerant government might have viewed these writings as simply discussing; for example, divisions of opinion within the army and the need for sympathy for the Hutu victims of the genocide.


You may feel that these writings were exaggerated, sensational or inaccurate, but that does not mean they should be suppressed. A free press means a press that can freely and sometimes even irresponsibly criticize a nation’s rulers. The universal desire for freedom includes the desire to have access to different and contradictory points of view, as we are seeing now in Tunisia and Egypt.


The Overseas Press Club of America urges you to reverse your government’s repressive policies towards the media.


Respectfully yours,

Jeremy Main
Kevin McDermott

Co-Chairmen, Freedom of the Press Committee

cc:

H.E. James Kimonyo

Ambassador of Rwanda to the U.S.A.

Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda

1714 New Hampshire Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20009

Fax: (202) 232.4544


Ambassador Eugene Richard Gasana

Permanent Representative

Permanent Mission of the Republic of Rwanda to the United Nations

124 East 39th Street

New York, NY 10016

Fax: (212) 679.9133


H.E. W. Stuart Symington

U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda

Embassy of the United States of America

#2657 Avenue de la Gendarmerie

Kactury, Kigali

Rwanda

Fax: (011.250) 59.67.71/ 65.91

(OR: P.O. Box 28)


Kigali Wire

editor@kigaliwire.com


Umuvugizi

editor@umuvugizi.com


Agence Rwandaise d’Information

Boulevard de U’muganda

P.O. Box 453

Kacyiru, Kigali

Rwanda

Fax: (011.250) 58.72.16


Media Institute

College House, Koinange Str.

P.O. Box 46356

00100 Nairobi

Kenya

Fax: (011.254.20) 225.2373

mediainst@wananchi.com


afrol News Lesotho, c/o Mopheme

1st Floor Allied Building, Room 7

(Manonyane Centre)

Maseru 100

Lesotho

Fax: (011.266.2) 231.1670.

newsdesk@afrol.com

(Or: P.O. Box 14184)