• Campaigns

Rwanda: Fear for safety: Fidele Uwizeye

, Index number: AFR 47/021/1998

There are fears for the safety of Fidele Uwizeye whose current whereabouts are unknown. He was arrested on 1 May 1998 and detained in Kigali but has since be transferred. The charges against him are unknown although some individuals have reportedly accused him of taking part in the genocide of 1994.

PUBLIC AI Index: AFR 47/21/98
UA 155/98 Fear for safety 19 May 1998
RWANDAFidèle Uwizeye, government employee
There are fears for the safety of Fidèle Uwizeye, whose current whereabouts
are unknown.
Fidèle Uwizeye - former préfet (local government official) of Gitarama under
the previous government of Rwanda - worked in the department of communal
development at the Ministry of Interior, Communal Development and Social
Reintegration under the current government. He was arrested on 1 May 1998 at
his home in the capital, Kigali. The charges against him are not known. He
was initially detained at the gendarmerie at Remera in Kigali. On 5 May, he
was reportedly transferred to another detention centre, the location of which
has not been disclosed. On around 9 May, his relatives, who had been taking
him food at the detention centre of the gendarmerie of Remera, were handed
back his various personal belongings. Officials at the gendarmerie reportedly
stated that Fidèle Uwizeye had been transferred to another detention centre,
but refused to reveal his whereabouts. They reportedly told the family not
to return.
The exact motives for the arrest of Fidèle Uwizeye are not known. Some
individuals have reportedly accused him of having participated in the genocide
in Rwanda in 1994.
Fidèle Uwizeye had testified in Arusha, Tanzania, as a defence witness in the
trial of Jean-Paul Akayesu, a former local government official indicted by
the International Criminal for Rwanda (ICTR)- the tribunal set up by the United
Nations to try the main leaders and organizers of the genocide. It is unclear
whether Fidèle Uwizeye’s arrest and possible “disappearance” are related to
his testifying at Arusha. There have been other cases of individuals in Rwanda
who had acted as defence witnesses for people accused of genocide or indicated
their willingness to do so and have been subsequently subjected to human rights
violations, including killings and threats.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The number of “disappearances” in Rwanda has increased significantly since
1997. In many cases, the “disappeared” individuals are likely to have been
killed. In other cases, they are likely to be held in unacknowledged or secret
detention centres, including military detention centres to which the
authorities almost always deny access to the detainees’ relatives and to
humanitarian and human rights organizations. Detainees in these detention
centres have reportedly been subjected to ill-treatment. There have also been
cases of killings of detainees. In addition, the conditions in many detention
centres amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
There are currently around 130,000 people detained in prisons and detention
centres across Rwanda, the majority accused of participation in the genocide
which claimed as many as one million lives in 1994. While many of the detainees
are believed to be guilty, a significant proportion are widely believed to
be innocent. Amnesty International is not in a position to judge the innocence
or guilt of specific individuals, but is concerned about a pattern of arbitrary
arrests and prolonged detention without charge or trial.
2
Individuals associated with the former government of Rwanda are especially
likely to be viewed with suspicion. Some are known to have played a leading
role in the genocide, but others have been arrested without evidence of their
actual participation, simply because of the position they occupied under the
former government or because members of their families held such positions.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
French or English or your own language:
- asking for information on the current whereabouts of Fidèle Uwizeye and for
this information to be immediately disclosed to members of his family;
- expressing concern for his safety following reports that he is being held
in an undisclosed location after his reported transfer from the gendarmerie
at Remera;
- asking for assurances that his safety and physical well-being are guaranteed;
- calling for him to have access to visits from members of his family, from
a lawyer and from humanitarian and human rights organizations;
- asking for the reasons for his arrest and the charges against him to be made
public.
APPEALS TO:
Sheikh Abdul Karim HARELIMANA
Ministre de l’Intérieur, du Développement communal
et de la Réintégration sociale
BP 446, Kigali, Rwanda
Telegrams: Minister Interior, Kigali, Rwanda
Fax: +250 83170
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre / Dear Minister
Colonel Marcel GATSINZI
Chef d’Etat-Major de la Gendarmerie
BP 359, Kigali, Rwanda
Telegrams: Chief of Staff, Gendarmerie, Kigali, Rwanda
Fax: +250 86267
Salutation: Monsieur le Chef d’Etat-Major / Dear Colonel Gatsinzi
Pierre-Célestin RWIGEMA
Premier Ministre
BP 1334, Kigali, Rwanda
Telegrams: Prime Minister, Kigali, Rwanda
Fax: +250 83714
Salutation: Monsieur le Premier Ministre / Dear Prime Minister
COPIES 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 30 June 1998.

Choose a language to view report