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Rwanda: Fear for safety / ill-treatment / extrajudicial / unlawful arrest

, رقم الوثيقة: AFR 47/012/1999

There are fears for the safety of Epiphanie Uwitakiye, Suzanne Mukamusoni and her husband, Blaise Barankoreho following the death of Félicien Gasana (husband of Epiphanie Uwitakiye) apparently as a result of injuries inflicted in detention. All three are detained in the capital, Kigali. Their detention is thought to be related to their attempts to claim back their property, which had been occupied.

PUBLIC AI Index: AFR 47/12/99
EXTRA 108/99 Fear for safety / ill-treatment / Extrajudicial execution / Unlawful arrest 13 August 1999
RWANDAEpiphanie Uwitakiye (f)
Félicien Gasana (aged 35) (killed), construction company worker, husband of
Epiphanie Uwitakiye
Suzanne (f)
Blaise Barankoreho, construction company worker, husband of Suzanne
There are fears for the safety of the three people named above following the
death of Félicien Gasana apparently as a result of injuries inflicted in
detention. All three are detained at the brigade (gendarmerie detention centre)
at Nyamirambo, in the capital, Kigali. On 10 August 1999 the commander of the
brigade did not authorize local human rights groups to see the detainees.
On 6 August, Epiphanie Uwitakiye and Suzanne were arrested by a group of people
as they tried to reclaim their houses, which had been occupied, in Nyamirambo
secteur, Nyarugenge commune, in Kigali town. Both women were beaten, Epiphanie
Uwitakiye reportedly particularly badly, and taken to the bureau de secteur
(local government office) at Nyamirambo. The conseiller de secteur (local
government official) intervened to protect the women and contacted the police.
Five people - including a police official and a civilian official responsible
for local security - then went to arrest Félicien Gasana and another group
went to arrest Blaise Barankoreho, at their workplaces. The two men were taken
to the brigade at Nyamirambo, where their wives were now also being held.
Félicien Gasana was reportedly beaten along the way and was seen limping; Blaise
Barankoreho was beaten at the time of his arrest.
When, on 10 August, relatives of Félicien Gasana tried to visit him at the
brigade, they were told he had been taken to Kigali hospital (Centre hospitalier
de Kigali). When they enquired at the hospital, they were told he had died
the previous day. His body, which was in the morgue, bore visible wounds
indicating severe blows to his head and face. The commander of the brigade
at Nyamirambo claimed that Félicien Gasana had been taken ill but was still
alive when taken to hospital. Other sources have indicated, however, that he
may have been dead on arrival. His family say that he was in good health before
being arrested. It is not yet known whether their request for an autopsy has
been granted.
A request by Epiphanie Uwitakiye’s family that she be allowed to attend her
husband’s funeral on 11 August - accompanied by security officials if necessary
- was refused.
The motives for these arrests and for the killing of Félicien Gasana are not
known. Some believe that these events are linked to the two couples’ attempts
to claim back their property; in an attempt in 1996 to reclaim their property,
another relative of Blaise Barankoreho had been beaten.
The group who arrested them have accused them of participating in the genocide
in Nyamirambo in 1994, which the commander of the brigade has cited as the
basis for their arrest.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Human rights abuses in the context of disputes over property are common in
Rwanda. Amnesty International has documented many cases of people who have
been arrested, “disappeared” or killed following attempts to reclaim their
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property which has been illegally occupied. In some cases, these abuses are
carried out by military or other agents of the state, in other cases by private
individuals. The authorities have done little to investigate arbitrary arrests,
killings and “disappearances” in this context or to bring those responsible
to justice.
Unsubstantiated accusations of participation in the genocide in Rwanda and
denunciations by organized groups are also common. The accusation of
participation in the genocide is often used to settle scores or as a form of
revenge. Amnesty International is not in a position to state whether the three
individuals above are guilty or innocent of these crimes, but is concerned
about their safety as well as about arrest procedures.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
French or English or your own language:
- expressing concern for the safety of Epiphanie Uwitakiye, Blaise Barankoreho
and Suzanne in detention, following the death of Félicien Gasana;
- asking for assurances that they will not be ill-treated in detention and
that every effort will be made to ensure their safety and well-being;
- calling for an investigation into their ill-treatment during or soon after
their arrest on 6 August 1999;
- asking why they are still detained and calling for their release unless they
are charged with a recognizably criminal offence;
- expressing concern at the death of Félicien Gasana, who appears to have been
killed in detention or as a result of ill-treatment in detention;
- asking for an immediate investigation into the causes and circumstances of
his death, including an autopsy, and for those responsible to be brought to
justice;
- asking the authorities to ensure that arrests are only carried out by officials
with the legal powers and mandate to do so and on the basis of substantial
evidence.
APPEALS TO:
Colonel Marcel GATSINZI
Chef d’Etat-Major de la Gendarmerie
Gendarmerie Nationale
BP 359, Kigali, Rwanda
Telegrams:Chef d’Etat-Major Gendarmerie, Kigali, Rwanda
Faxes:+ 250 86267
Salutation:Dear Chief-of-Staff / Monsieur le Chef d’Etat-Major
Jean-de-Dieu MUCYO
Ministre de la Justice
Ministère de la Justice
BP 160, Kigali, Rwanda
Telegrams: Ministre Justice, Kigali, Rwanda
Faxes:+ 250 86509
Salutation:Dear Minister / Monsieur le Ministre
Sheikh Abdul Karim HARELIMANA
Ministre de l’Intérieur
Ministère de l’Intérieur
BP 446, Kigali, Rwanda
Telegrams:Ministre Intérieur, Kigali, Rwanda
Faxes:+ 250 82071
Salutation: Dear Minister / Monsieur le Ministre
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COPIES TO:
Marc KABANDANA
Préfet de Kigali Ville
Préfecture de Kigali Ville
Kigali, Rwanda
Faxes:+ 250 73684
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 10 September 1999.

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