Rwanda: Illegal detention and harassment of journalist must stop
|Publication Date||19 July 2012|
|Cite as||Article 19, Rwanda: Illegal detention and harassment of journalist must stop, 19 July 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/5057189c2.html [accessed 20 June 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
ARTICLE 19 is deeply concerned with the continued harassment and unlawful detention of Rwandese journalist, Idriss Gasana Byiringiro, by the government security forces. It calls on the police to immediately and unconditionally release him after holding him incommunicado for two days.
"The persistent harassment of Gasana since 15 June and his illegal detention including denying him access to his family and lawyer is an infringement of his fundamental human rights and a drawback on the promised media reforms in Rwanda. It is not only unacceptable but illegal to hold a person for over two days without seeking courts permission even when investigations are underway." said Henry Maina ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa Director.
Gasana who works for the Rwandan weekly, The Chronicles, was arrested on 17 July and detained at Kicukiro police post in Kigali City following a request from the Criminal Investigation Division to help them with ther investigations. Since his arrest he has been denied access to his family, lawyer or his colleagues.
The arrest follows four weeks of alleged intimidation, harassment and illegal interrogation of the journalist by individuals who claimed to work for the intelligence services. According to Dr Christopher Kayumba, the Managing Consultant with The Chronicles the process began on 15 June when four individuals who claimed to work for the security services forced him into a Land Cruiser vehicle at around 3pm, confiscated all his belongings, including a mobile telephone and laptop, and drove him to Nyamata where he was allegedly interrogated and then released.
Following the incident, The Chronicles management wrote a complaint letter to the relevant authorities informing them of the incident. After lodging the complaint on 19 June, Gasana received intimidating SMS messages and an unsigned letter containing threats. The letter and the SMS were also forwarded to security officials investigating the matter.
ARTICLE 19 calls upon the Rwanda government to unconditionally release Gasana and stop harassing and intimidating the journalist. It also asks the police to quickly investigate and prosecute those sending threatening SMS messages and unsigned letters to the journalist.