Reporters Without Borders calls on the European Union and other international donors to suspend their assistance to the Rwandan government and to stop providing financial support for the 9 August presidential election following a series of grave press freedom violations, the latest of which was a newspaper editor’s arrest last week.
“How much longer will the international community continue to endorse this repressive regime?” Reporters Without Borders asked. “The international community is becoming its accomplice by supporting next month’s election, for which the preparations are being accompanied by widespread harassment and abuses. If the European Union stopped disbursing its funding, it would be clear sign of opposition to the Rwandan government’s practices.”
Agnès Uwimana Nkusi, the editor of the privately-owned fortnightly Umurabyo, was arrested on 8 July and placed in pre-trial detention in Kigali’s Remera police station in connection with the publication of several stories on “sensitive” subjects.
They included articles in the last two issues analysing and raising questions about the murder of Umuvugizi editor Jean-Léonard Rugambage and the attempted murder of an exiled Rwandan military officer, Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, in South Africa.
Charged with inciting civil disobedience, insulting the president, spreading false rumours and denying the Tutsi genocide, Nkusi is expected to be brought to trial soon. Her arrest could pave the way for the fortnightly’s permanent closure.
Nkusi previously received a one-year jail sentence on charges of "sectarianism" and "defamation” in 2007, serving the entire sentence. More informations .
Her arrest last week follows Rugambage’s murder in June, the blocking of the Umuvugizi website, and the closure of Rwanda’s two leading independent newspapers, Umuvugizi and Umuseso, for six months. For more information about these violations .
Rwanda was ranked 157th out of 175 countries in the 2009 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. This was the fourth lowest ranking in Africa, above only Eritrea, Somalia and Equatorial Guinea. President Kagame has for years been on the Reporters Without Borders list of Predators of Press Freedom .