Named vice president of Rwanda in 1994, following the genocide. Kagame rose to the top position in 2002. The constitution, amended in2015, allows him to remain in power until 2034.
Predator from the time he held senior positions
Rwanda, 156th/180 countries in 2021 World Press Freedom Index
PREDATORY METHOD: Instilling fear
Since taking office, Kagame hides behind the memory of the 1994 genocide in order to justify tight control of journalists and media organisations in Rwanda. In that period, media, such as Radio Mille Collines, fanned racial hatred. About three decades later, censorship continues, and self-censorship has become the rule, for those who want to avoid becoming government targets. The crime of “insulting the person of the president of the Republic” has been used mainly to muzzle the press. In addition, Kagame is suspected in connection with the death of Jean-Léonard Rugambage, deputy editor of the weekly Umugugizi, who was murdered while investigating security services’ attempt to murder a general who was exiled in South Africa. To track journalists, the regime relies on intelligence agencies, and informers who are assigned to infiltrate the population. Regime trolls follow, listen to and systematically harass reporters online. As a result, journalists’ sources remain silent, fearing reprisals against them if they speak up. As of this writing, not a sole national private press organization exists in the country.
FAVOURITE TARGETS: Independent journalists
OFFICIAL DISCOURSE: Feigned indifference
“When I hear some of your journalist colleagues express forceful judgements and advice with an authority inversely proportional to their expertise, I have to wonder.” (Interview in Jeune Afrique, 2018).
“Freedom of expression? Freedom of the press? Some of them insult people daily. They insult me every day. I could care less. In their cartoons, they call me Hitler – I ignore them, this doesn’t get to me at all. I hold them all in contempt. (Speech at commemoration of the 16th anniversary of the genocide, 8 April 2010).