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
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
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.
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