EXTERNAL AI Index: AFR 47/04/96
UA 91/96 Fear for safety / Fear of ill-treatment 2 April 1996
RWANDAJoseph Ruyenzi, journalist, in his 30s
Joseph Ruyenzi, a news presenter in the kinyarwanda language for Radio Rwanda,
was arrested by soldiers on 29 March 1996 in the capital, Kigali. Initially
he was held at the Brigade Centrale in Kigali, but he is reported to have since
been transferred to Kigali Central Prison. Amnesty International is concerned
for his health and safety in the context of a pattern of government victimization
of journalists in Rwanda.
Although the motive for Joseph Ruyenzi's detention is not known, Amnesty
International is concerned that it may be because of his attempts to exercise
his right to freedom of expression as a journalist. Radio Rwanda, where Joseph
Ruyenzi has been working for about one and a half years, is the state-controlled
national radio station, and is known to stifle broadcasts which expose current
human rights abuses in Rwanda or which are critical of the government.
It is not known whether Joseph Ruyenzi has been subjected to any ill-treatment
in detention. However, Amnesty International has documented a pattern of
torture and ill-treatment of detainees in military detention centres in Rwanda,
in the period immediately after arrest, before they are transferred to the
Amnesty International is also deeply concerned at the conditions in many prisons
and detention centres in Rwanda, resulting from overcrowding and lack of health
and sanitary facilities. In many cases, these conditions amount to cruel,
inhuman and degrading treatment. There are currently more than 67,000
detainees held without charge or trial, on accusations of having participated
in the genocide and other massacres in 1994.
Throughout 1995 and early 1996, Kigali Prison was among the most overcrowded
prisons in Rwanda. In March 1996, it held more than 11,240 prisoners, in a
capacity for around 2,000. Finally, at the end of March 1996, 3,000 prisoners
were transferred to a temporary site in Gikondo. However, with new arrests
estimated at several hundred a week, there is no guarantee that the improvement
in conditions resulting from this transfer will be long-lasting.
Since the current government came to power in Rwanda in July 1994, Amnesty
International has documented a pattern of intimidation and harassment of
journalists who attempt to distribute independent and objective information
on the situation in Rwanda, particularly those who denounce human rights
violations by the security forces. Several other radio and press journalists
have been victims of human rights violations in Rwanda, in connection with
their professional activities. These have included at least one other
journalist working for Radio Rwanda.
Another example is Manassé Mugabo, a journalist working on the kinyarwanda
service of Radio UNAMIR (the radio station of the United Nations Assistance
Mission to Rwanda) who "disappeared" in August 1995 and has never been seen
since. He is feared dead. Several other journalists have been also singled
out for arrest or attempted assassination.