Tag: African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights
The 2018 Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize was awarded on Saturday, March 10, 2018, in Brussels, Belgium. The prize honors Rwandan political prisoner Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. Despite the African Court of Human and People’s Rights’ 2017 ruling that her imprisonment is unjust and that Rwanda should free her, she remains behind bars. This year’s Victoire Prize went to Cameroonian French journalist Charles Onana and Canadian radio broadcaster Phil Taylor.
On Nov. 14, CNN shocked the world with its video news report of Black African migrants being sold into slavery in Libya. Eight days later the Rwandan government issued a press release headlined “Rwanda’s door is open for migrants held captive in Libya.” Rwandan President Paul Kagame is grandstanding as Papa Africa on the world stage, but nothing could be further from the truth or more preposterous than his proposal. Here are four reasons why.
In 2010, Victoire Ingabire attempted to run for president against Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, but went to prison instead. The Rwandan Supreme Court ultimately sentenced her to 15 years. On Nov. 24, the African Court of Human and People’s Rights ruled that she did not receive a fair trial, that she had not denied or minimized the Tutsi genocide, and that her criticism of the government should have been allowed as part of her freedom of expression within Rwandan law.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) propagates injustice as stark as slavery or South African apartheid. It’s a Western court that prosecutes Africans exclusively. In June 2011, the ICC indicted Libyan President Muammar al-Qaddafi and his son Saif al-Islam Qaddafi. Now, six years later, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has announced that she will investigate Burundian officials for crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the country’s past three years of civil unrest.
Last year the African Union resisted Western pressure to intervene militarily in Burundi. On Oct. 26, Burundi officially completed its withdrawal from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) without being indicted. Western powers, NGOs and press have accused Burundi of human rights abuse within its own borders but not of invading another country. I asked Canadian lawyer David Paul Jacobs, an expert in international law, to contextualize this distinction.
Oct. 14 marked the seventh anniversary of Rwandan political prisoner Victoire Ingabire’s arrest shortly after she attempted to run for president against Rwanda’s military dictator, President Paul Kagame. The Brussels-based International Women’s Network for Democracy and Peace commemorates Oct. 14 as Ingabire Day, a day of solidarity with Victoire Ingabire and all political prisoners. I asked Claude Gatebuke, Rwandan genocide survivor and founder of the African Great Lakes Action Network, to explain Victoire Ingabire’s message.
Since seizing power in Rwanda in 1994, dictator and U.S. military partner Paul Kagame has ruled the tiny East African nation with an iron fist that includes a complex nationwide network of spies and surveillance technology. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, leader of the FDU-Inkingi Party, has been in prison since 2010, when she tried to run for president against Kagame. Now another woman, Diane Rwigara, who attempted to run against Kagame in this year’s election, has been arrested.
On May 19, 2016, the Rwandan government ordered Dutch lawyer Caroline Buisman to leave Rwanda immediately, without even meeting her new client, political prisoner Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. Buisman had arrived in the country’s capital Kigali on May 14, 2016, to consult with Ingabire regarding the appeal of her conviction for terrorism, inciting popular revolt and minimizing the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.
This week marked the fifth anniversary of Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza’s arrest and imprisonment in Rwanda. Ingabire attempted to run for president, against incumbent Paul Kagame in 2010, and went to prison instead. Supporters of Ingabire and freedom for all Rwandans and all peoples of the African Great Lakes Region gathered in Brussels, Belgium, for a day of reflection on the meaning of Victoire Ingabire’s heroic sacrifice.
Earlier this week, supporters of iconic Rwandan political prisoner Victoire Ingabire, including her daughter and new granddaughter, gathered to protest her inhumane prison conditions. Members of her party in Kigali report that prison authorities have painted her only cell window black, taken away her books and put her in harsher isolation than before. Prison authorities are denying her legal right to meet with the Rwandan lawyer who’s representing her in her appeal to the African Court of Human and People’s Rights.
As Burundian voters went to the polls on Tuesday, the U.S. State Department warned that “elections held under the current conditions in Burundi will not be credible and will further discredit the government.” It also said it planned to suspend partnerships that it hasn’t already suspended with “anyone promoting instability in Burundi through violence.” Will those “promoting instability through violence” include the renegade Burundian military officers who staged a failed coup attempt in May, then fled to Rwanda and declared war on Burundi? Will it include Rwandan military and political support for a rebel force?
After becoming the leader of the Rwandan Diaspora’s opposition to the authoritarian regime of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Victoire Ingabire returned to Rwanda to run against him in the 2010 election. She was instead placed under house arrest shortly after her return and is now serving a 15 year sentence. This week the African Court of Human and People’s Rights agreed to hear her case on appeal, in Arusha, Tanzania.
Supporters of Rwandan political prisoner Victoire Ingabire marched in Brussels, Belgium, today to denounce the Rwandan Supreme Court’s December ruling, which increased her sentence on appeal. British lawyer Iain Edwards said that he is still waiting for a translation of the ruling before saying whether or not they will appeal beyond Rwanda to a regional court or to the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Ingabire returned to her native Rwanda from the Netherlands in January 2010 to stand for the presidency against incumbent President Paul Kagame, but she was not allowed to run and was imprisoned on charges of terrorism and genocide ideology. A court sentenced her to eight years, and her lawyers have filed an appeal with the Rwandan Supreme Court.