Rwanda Government says Amnesty International accusations are “wild”
Kigali – Responding to demands from Amnesty International that the new government must urgently review their “vague ‘genocide ideology’ and ‘sectarianism’ laws” allegedly used to suppress political dissent, the Justice Ministry says it has such a plan but not because of outside pressure.
Rwanda does not make laws to please Amnesty International or any other outsiders, said Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama.
The London-based rights group said in a report Tuesday that the loose wording was being misused to criminalise criticism of the government and legitimate opposition.
“The ambiguity of the ‘genocide ideology’ and ‘sectarianism’ laws mean Rwandans live in fear of being punished for saying the wrong thing,” said Erwin van der Borght, Africa Programme director at Amnesty International.
“Most take the safe option of staying silent.”
In a 116-page report, Amnesty says its research based on information from local civil society, judges and lawyers, the two laws were found to be troubling.
But speaking Tuesday morning to the BBC, the Justice Minister Karugarama accused Amnesty International of making baseless allegations without doing any research on the impact of the laws.
“What census have they carried…Are they the spokesperson of the Rwandan people?” said Karugarama, describing the allegations from the group as “wild”.
Government announced in April that it was reviewing the Genocide Ideology law. RNA also reported recently that Karugarama had invited campaigns groups including Amnesty International to give their ideas on the preferred changes.
The complaints against the sectarianism law are just coming up.
Karugarama said: “We do not make laws to satisfy Amnesty International or any other organization…we make laws to satisfy our legal and national requirements.”
Cabinet has engaged two unnamed academic institutions to help with the review of the Genocide law. Karugarama has commissioned two independent groups to look at the law. One is an academic institution in north America, the other a group in Europe.
Available figures suggest some 900 people are in jail over the contested Genocide law.