Journalists Agnes Nkusi Uwimana and Saidati Mukakibibi were sentenced today to respectively 17 and 7 years imprisonment over opinion articles they wrote in August 2010 prior to presidential elections.
They were prosecuted over several articles they had written in which they criticized government policies and made corruption allegations against senior government officials.
The prosecutor has not convincingly demonstrated how accused journalist writings might be interpreted as "a threat to national security or were envisioned, or expected, to stimulate violence," according to our researcher in Kigali.
Journalists Agnes Nkusi Uwimana and Saidati Mukakibibi should not have been subjected to criminal prosecutions. The law that criminalizes legitimate criticism of the government should be revised to respect freedom of expression.
Global Campaign for Rwandans' Human Rights urges the Rwanda government to respect freedom of expression and allow journalists to be able to criticize public officials and policies without fear of criminal persecutions for defamation. Rwandan officials should learn how to react to criticism, instead of exercising oppression against it.
Free media is an important element of a free and a democratic society. Imprisoning journalists for expressing their opinion seriously undermines Rwandans' pathway towards accessing their fundamental human rights
Global Campaign for Rwandan Human Rights
Secretariat – London