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Rwanda: Fear for safety / fear of ill-treatment / arbitrary arrest / possible extrajudicial execution and new concern: possible prisoner of conscience: Amiel Nkuriza

, N° d'index: AFR 47/016/1996

Amiel Nkuriza, director of Intego and editor of Le Partisan, Appolos Hakizimana, journalist at Intego, Isaie Niyoyita, editor of Intego: Two journalists with the independent weekly newspaper Intego are in detention in Kigali, where Amnesty International fears they may be ill-treated. The organization is concerned that they appear to have been detained simply because of the peaceful expression of their opinions and because Intego is perceived as critical of the government. Isaie Niyoyita is reported to have gone into hiding following the arrests of his colleagues.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AFR 47/16/96
UA 199/96 Fear for safety / Fear of ill-treatment /
Arbitrary arrest 8 August 1996
RWANDAAmiel Nkuriza, director of Intego and editor of Le Partisan
Appolos Hakizimana, journalist at Intego
Isaie Niyoyita, editor of Intego
Two journalists with the independent weekly newspaper Intego are in detention
in the capital, Kigali, where Amnesty International fears they may be
ill-treated. The organization is concerned that they appear to have been
detained simply because of the peaceful expression of their opinions and because
of their association with a newspaper perceived as critical of the government.
A third man, the editor of the paper, has gone into hiding amidst rumours
that he, too, is being sought by the authorities.
Amiel Nkuriza, director of Intego and editor of Le Partisan (another independent
newspaper), was abducted on 6 August 1996 by four men, one in military uniform
and three in civilian clothes, in the centre of Kigali. He is reported to
be held in the buildings of the information services of the Prime Minister.
Appolos Hakizimana was arrested on 30 July 1996, near the bus station in Kigali.
During a routine identity check, he presented a document stating that he worked
for Intego. He was then insulted by the soldiers who accused him of being
an interahamwe and accused his newspaper of being "pro-interahamwe" (the
interahamwe are the militia allied to the previous government of Rwanda,
responsible for the massacre of as many as one million people between April
and July 1994). He was beaten by soldiers and taken to the Brigade at Muhima,
where he is reportedly still held.
Isaie Niyoyita, editor of Intego and formerly editor of Le Messager (see below),
is reported to have gone into hiding following the arrests of his colleagues.
His whereabouts are unknown.
The arrests of Amiel Nkuriza and Appolos Hakizimana occurred after the
authorities seized the latest issue of Intego in July and prohibited publication
of future issues until further notice. It is thought that these moves were
prompted by an article in the seized issue which was critical of certain
government authorities, in particular of a government campaign whose stated
intention is to raise awareness among the population of security risks posed
by armed opposition groups close to the former Rwandese army. The article
apparently implied that these awareness-raising efforts in fact resembled a
terror campaign. It referred to a warning reportedly issued by the Minister
of Interior who had stated that if one person were killed in a particular
locality, all the residents of that locality would answer for it.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Several journalists in Rwanda who have been critical of the present government
have been victims of human rights violations, including arrests, ill-treatment
and attempted extrajudicial executions, as well as persistent harassment and
intimidation. Along with other human rights activists, including members of
local human rights organizations and judicial officials, journalists have been
among the main targets of the government's attempts to repress criticism of
its human rights record.
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Journalists working for Intego have been particularly singled out for harassment
because of what is perceived as the critical editorial line of the newspaper.
Amiel Nkuriza has been arrested previously and was detained for one day, on
10 June 1996, after publishing an article about difficulties of cohabitation
between the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups in the southern part of Rwanda. Joseph
Akimana, another journalist of Intego, was beaten up by soldiers in mid June
1996.
Intego is the successor of the independent newspaper Le Messager. The editor
of Le Messager, Edouard Mutsinzi, almost lost his life in February 1995 after
being attacked by a group of men, some of whom wore military insignia. Isaie
Niyoyita replaced Edouard Mutsinzi as editor of Le Messager before it was closed
and forced to change its name following pressure from military authorities.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in French or English or your own language:
- calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Appolos Hakizimana
and Amiel Nkuriza unless they are to be charged with recognizable criminal
offences;
- seeking assurances that they have access to lawyers, doctors and family
members, that they are not being ill-treated and that their physical safety
will be guaranteed;
- seeking assurances that Isaie Niyoyita, the editor of Intego, will be protected
from human rights violations;
if possible also:
- call for measures to ensure that other journalists will be protected from
human rights violations, including arbitrary arrest and ill-treatment, and
will be allowed to continue their legitimate professional activities, without
fear of harassment or intimidation;
- express concern at the apparent pattern of increasing repression of critics
of the government's human rights record and call for this repression to be
stopped, in the interests of transparency and respect for human rights.
APPEALS TO:
Monsieur Pierre-Célestin RWIGEMA
Premier Ministre
Présidence de la Républiqur
BP 15, Kigali, Rwanda
Faxes: 250 83714
Telegrams: Premier Ministre, Kigali, Rwanda
Salutation: Monsieur le Premier Ministre / Dear Prime Minister
Monsieur Jean-Pierre BIZIMANA
Ministre de l'Information et Porte-parole du gouvernement
Ministère de l'Information
BP 1532, Kigali, Rwanda
Faxes: 250 84607
Telegrams: Ministre de l'Information, Kigali, Rwanda
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre/Dear Minister
Major Wilson RUTAYISIRE
Directeur, Office rwandais de l'Information (ORINFOR)
Kigali, Rwanda
Fax: 250 76185
Telegrams: Directeur, ORINFOR, Kigali, Rwanda
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Salutation: Monsieur le Directeur
Colonel Alexis KANYARENGWE
Vice-Premier Ministre et Ministre de l'Intérieur
BP 446, Kigali, Rwanda
Faxes: 250 84373; 83374
Telegrams: Ministre de l'Intérieur, Kigali, Rwanda
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre/Dear Minister
COPIES TO:
Général Major Paul Kagame
Vice-Président de la République et Ministre de la Défense
Présidence de la République, BP 15, Kigali, Rwanda
Fax: 250 72431; 76969
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 20 September 1996.

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