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.
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.