Bloomberg News

Rwanda Should Review Laws That Stifle Speech, Amnesty Says

June 03, 2011

June 3 (Bloomberg) -- Rwanda should review its genocide ideology and sectarianism laws that have been used to stifle free speech and political opposition, according to Amnesty International.

Rwanda drafted the laws in response to genocide in 1994 when 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred. Amnesty said in a report released today the policies are overly vague, broad and used by the government to punish journalists, human rights workers and political opposition.

The East African nation’s elections last year, where President Paul Kagame won with 93 percent of votes, was “marked by a clampdown on freedom of expression,” the London-based organization said in its report.

Rwanda is already in the process of reviewing the policies, said Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama in an e-mailed statement released before the Amnesty report, which the government called “inaccurate” and “highly partisan.”

Rwanda has recently taken steps to develop its media with new policies, Karugarama said.

“Any review of the headlines of independent print and broadcast press will show that the president and the government are regularly criticized, even insulted, without facing any action,” he said.

--Editors: Emily Bowers, Ben Livesey.

To contact the reporter on this story: Heather Murdock in Kigali via Nairobi at pmrichardon@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.


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