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Rwanda: Fear of executions

, رقم الوثيقة: AFR 47/003/1998

Gaspard Mutabazi, sergeant in the Rwandese Patriotic Army (RPA) (executed), Mfizi Muhirwa, Isidore Bishogo, Ernest Gakire, Kami Mutangana, all RPA soldiers: Further executions are feared in Rwanda, after the four soldiers of the RPA were sentenced to death on 16 January by a military court in Gitarama and another RPA soldier, Gaspard Mutabazi, was summarily and extrajudicially executed on 17 January after being arrested in connection with a murder the previous day.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AFR 47/03/98
UA 17/98 Fear of executions 19 January 1998
RWANDAGaspard Mutabazi, sergeant in the Rwandese Patriotic Army (RPA)
(executed)
Mfizi Muhirwa, RPA soldier
Isidore Bishogo, RPA soldier
Ernest Gakire, RPA soldier
Kami Mutangana, RPA soldier
Further executions are feared in Rwanda, after four soldiers of the Rwandese
Patriotic Army (RPA) were sentenced to death on 16 January and another RPA
soldier was summarily and extrajudicially executed on 17 January. These
events, which have occurred against a background of increasing violence in
Rwanda, appear to be an attempt by military officials to show that they are
dealing firmly with criminality and human rights abuses within their own ranks.
On 17 January 1997, Gaspard Mutabazi, an RPA sergeant, was summarily executed
in public in Ruhengeri, northwestern Rwanda, after being arrested in connection
with a murder the previous day.
According to reports broadcast on Radio Rwanda, the national state-controlled
radio, Gaspard Mutabazi was arrested near the Ugandan border on the morning
of 17 January and confessed to murdering Noel Twagirayesu, a veterinarian in
Kigombe commune, and stealing his motorbike on 16 January. In the early
afternoon of 17 January, just hours after his arrest, he was reportedly shot
dead by RPA soldiers, without a trial or any judicial procedures. The execution
took place in public, at Ruhengeri stadium, and was reportedly attended by
a large crowd. Several senior civilian and military authorities were
reportedly present, including the RPA commander in charge of operations in
Ruhengeri, the gendarmerie commander for Ruhengeri, and the préfet (regional
civilian administrator) of Ruhengeri.
Radio Rwanda reportedly stated that Gaspard Mutabazi was executed so that the
punishment would serve as an example to other soldiers who may attempt to commit
similar offences.
In a separate development, the four RPA soldiers named above were sentenced
to death on 16 January by a military court in Gitarama, for their role in the
assassination on 24 October 1997 of Captain Théoneste Hategekimana, a soldier
of the former Rwandese armed forces who had been integrated in the RPA and
was serving as commander of the gendarmerie in the Gitarama-Kibuye area. The
lower military court had initially sentenced the four to life imprisonment
on 20 November. However, the court of appeal subsequently judged that a life
sentence was insufficient and sentenced all four to death on 16 January.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Scores of death sentences were handed down in 1997, mostly in trials by civilian
courts of people accused of participation in the genocide in 1994. None of
those sentenced to death in these trials are known to have been executed yet.
However, cases handled by the military courts are generally processed more
quickly.
Amnesty International has documented a pattern of serious human rights
violations by RPA soldiers, in particular thousands of extrajudicial executions
in the context of armed conflict in the northwest. Armed opposition groups
believed to include members of the former armed forces of Rwanda and militia
2
responsible for the genocide in 1994 have also carried out deliberate and
arbitrary killings of unarmed civilians. In the majority of cases, those
responsible for these abuses have not been brought to justice.
In recent months, pressure has been mounting on the Rwandese authorities to
prevent further unlawful killings. Several RPA soldiers have been arrested
in connection with their alleged role in extrajudicial executions or excessive
use of force. If tried and found guilty, they could face the death penalty.
There have been at least six cases of public summary executions of alleged
murder suspects by RPA soldiers in December 1996 and January 1997.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in French or English or your own language:
- deploring the summary and extrajudicial execution of Sergeant Gaspard Mutabazi
on 17 January 1998;
- appealing for immediate measures to be taken at the highest level to prevent
any further summary executions;
- explaining Amnesty International’s unconditional opposition to the death
penalty in all circumstances as a state-sanctioned violation of the right to
life;
- stressing the gravity of the above case in view of the fact that Gaspard
Mutabazi was executed without trial or any form of judicial procedure;
- expressing particular concern at reports that the execution took place in
public, in the presence of several senior military and civilian authorities;
- expressing concern at the decision by the military court of appeal in Gitarama
on 16 January to sentence to death the four RPA soldiers named above;
- agreeing that those found responsible for recognizably criminal offences,
such as the assassination of Théoneste Hategekimana, should be brought to
justice, but calling for the commutation of any death sentences imposed by
the courts to punishment that safeguards the physical integrity of all persons.
APPEALS TO:
Général Major Paul KAGAME
Vice-Président de la République et Ministre de la Défense
BP 23, Kigali, Rwanda
Telegrams: Vice-President, Kigali, Rwanda
Faxes: +250 72431; 76969
Salutation: Monsieur le Vice-Président/Dear Vice-President
Son Excellence Président Pasteur BIZIMUNGU
Présidence de la République
BP 15, Kigali, Rwanda
Telegrams: Président, Kigali, Rwanda
Faxes: +250 84390
Salutation: Monsieur le Président de la République / Dear President
Colonel Kayumba NYAMWASA
Chief of Staff
Rwandese Patriotic Army (RPA) Headquarters
Kigali, Rwanda
Telegrams: Chief of Staff RPA, Kigali, Rwanda
Faxes: (c/o Ministry of Defence) +250 72431; 76969
Salutation: Monsieur le Chef d’Etat Major/Dear Chief of Staff
Lieutenant-Colonel Kadafi KAZINTWARI
3
RPA Commander
Ruhengeri, Rwanda
Telegrams: Lieutenant-Colonel Kadafi, Kigali, Rwanda
Salutation: Monsieur le Commandant / Dear Commander
COPIES TO:
Faustin NTEZILYAYO
Ministre de la Justice
Ministère de la Justice
BP 160, Kigali, Rwanda
Telegrams: Ministre Justice, Kigali, Rwanda
Faxes: +250 86509
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre/Dear Minister
and to diplomatic representatives of RWANDA accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 2 March 1998.

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