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Rwandan intelligence defectors tell of Kagame’s torture machine

Rwandan defectors tell of life on run from Paul Kagame’s assassins

Paul Kagame - Rwanda

“He is a killer. He is a dictator. He can’t stand any opposition.”:Lt Joel Mutabazi

THE assassins came at night, when their target was alone, and knocked on his apartment door. They had been hunting him for weeks.

Joel Mutabazi, an Israeli-trained commando, had fled his own intelligence service after suffering 17 months of solitary confinement and torture and was about to divulge his government’s darkest secrets.

But it wasn’t Mossad who were after him. Nor was it the KGB or China. The killers, he claims, were from one of Britain’s closest African allies. Mr Mutabazi, who served for 20 years as President Paul Kagame’s bodyguard, said that the men who came to kill him were, like him, Rwandan. “Kagame has no mercy,” he told The Times. “He is a killer. He is a dictator. He can’t stand any opposition.” The gunmen shot twice but missed, and ran off into the night.

In a series of interviews in Kampala, Uganda, where Mr Mutabazi is seeking refuge, he described the ruthless regime he left behind _ one totally at odds with a government rewarded for its “vision, drive and delivery” by the pledge of 90 million ($142m) a year in British aid.

Mr Mutabazi said that Mr Kagame personally oversaw the systematic murder of thousands of Hutu refugees two years after the 1994 genocide that left at least 800,000 people dead. His allegations echoed and amplified a 2010 UN report, which Mr Kagame denied.

Mr Mutabazi said that he escorted Paul Kagame to a secret prison run by Rwanda’s Department of Military Intelligence in the outskirts of the capital, Kigali, on at least two occasions in 1996. Twice, he said, Mr Kagame, then Minister of Defence, was called out to inspect lorries carrying containers full of dead bodies that had broken down en route to mass graves.

The US, Sweden and The Netherlands suspended their aid to Rwanda earlier this year over allegations that Kigali is helping rebels behind a slew of human rights abuses in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. But Andrew Mitchell’s last act as British development secretary was to reverse a decision following suit, claiming that Rwanda was trying to resolve the conflict.

“He sings to the West about reconciliation, but it’s a lie,” Mr Mutabazi said of Mr Kagame. “Rwanda hasn’t learnt the lessons of the genocide. It’s a volcano and it’s going to burst and it will be worse than before.”

He accused Mr Kagame of running the country on tribal lines. “All of the soldiers in his bodyguard were Tutsi. If you married a Hutu woman, you were kicked out,” he said. Innocent Kalisa, a fellow member of Mr Kagame’s bodyguard, who also fled to Uganda last year, said that a corporal and two sergeants were fired for that reason between 2006 and 2008.

In Kampala, Mr Kalisa surveyed the cafe where we were due to meet from a nearby hillside, then changed the location at the last moment, fearing assassination. The last reporter to interview Mr Mutabazi, Charles Ingabire, was shot dead leaving a bar in Kampala in November. A few months earlier, Scotland Yard warned two Rwandan exiles living in Britain that “the Rwandan government poses an imminent threat to your life”.

Mr Kalisa, who was also trained by Israeli soldiers, said that he was abducted at gunpoint and forced into an unmarked car as he left a restaurant in Kigali in May. “Their first question was, ‘You are a Tutsi, why did you join the Hutu party?”’ he said.

He was driven to a secret prison close to Kigali airport, where he was pistol-whipped by an army officer and left in a cell with his left hand cuffed to his right ankle. “I saw blood and hair smeared on the walls and they said, ‘We are going to kill you.”’

He used his free hand to unpick the handcuffs with a piece of copper wire, kicked out a window and escaped.

Both of the former bodyguards, interviewed separately, also said that the regime’s Republican Guard stuffed hundreds of ballot boxes at their barracks two days before the 2003 elections. Mr Mutabazi said that they worked without sleep for two days: “Finger in ink, finger on Kagame. Finger in ink, finger on Kagame.”

Mr Mutabazi was arrested in April 2010 over allegations that he had supported an exiled Rwandan general, and interrogated three times over 17 months at the army base in Kami. For most of that time his hands were bound behind his back, 24 hours a day, and his feet were shackled. During one interrogation he was hooded and half-suffocated, and water was poured on his head. Later he was given electric shocks. “They told me something I will never forget for the rest of my life. They said: `Your family can’t save you. There’s no Human Rights Watch, no advocates. We can do what we want.”’ He was eventually released into house arrest and fled across the border.

In a report published today, Amnesty International says that it has documented 45 similar cases. It warns that the abuse was only made possible “because perpetrators expected their actions to go unpunished”.

The Justice Minister, Tharcisse Karugarama, admitted that there had been a spate of illegal detentions in 2010 following grenade attacks. “They became overzealous,” he said of the security forces but added “the state would never condone torture. Not the state I serve.”

Source: The Times UK

October 8, 2012   No Comments

Full Amnesty International Report “Rwanda: Shrouded in secrecy: Illegal detention and torture by military intelligence”

Rwanda: Shrouded in secrecy: Illegal detention and torture by military intelligence

Index Number: AFR 47/004/2012
Date Published: 8 October 2012

Dozens of people in Rwanda suspected of threatening national security have been held in a network of secret detention centres run by the military. In these camps, detainees were unlawfully held and were at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. Some are still held in secret detention. This report documents cases of unlawful detention and allegations of ill-treatment by Rwandan military intelligence in 2010 and 2011. Amnesty International is urging the government to end these practices, disclose the whereabouts of detainees, investigate torture allegations and bring those responsible to justice.

 

October 8, 2012   No Comments

Amnesty International calls for investigation into torture in Rwanda

Rwanda must investigate unlawful detention and torture by military intelligence

The A.I. report reveals unlawful detention, enforced disappearances, and allegations of torture by Rwandan military intelligence agency J2.

The Rwandan military’s human rights record abroad is increasingly scrutinized, but their unlawful detention and torture of civilians in Rwanda is shrouded in secrecy.

Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Acting Deputy Africa Director
Mon, 08/10/2012

Rwanda’s military intelligence department known as J2 has illegally held scores of civilians in military detention without charge or trial amid credible claims of torture, Amnesty International states today in a new report.

Rwanda: Shrouded in Secrecy: Illegal Detention and Torture by Military Intelligence reveals unlawful detention, enforced disappearances, as well as allegations of torture by J2.

The report details credible accounts of individuals being subjected to serious beatings, electric shocks and sensory deprivation to force confessions during interrogations.

“The Rwandan military’s human rights record abroad is increasingly scrutinized, but their unlawful detention and torture of civilians in Rwanda is shrouded in secrecy,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Acting Deputy Africa Director.

Hidden from view by J2, scores of men languished in incommunicado detention for months and some alleged they were tortured.

Between March 2010 and June 2012, Amnesty International documented 45 cases of unlawful detention and 18 allegations of torture or ill-treatment at Camp Kami, Mukamira military camp, and in safe houses in the capital, Kigali.

The men were detained by J2 for periods ranging from 10 days to nine months without access to lawyers, doctors and family members.

Most had been rounded-up by the military from March 2010 onwards after grenade attacks in Kigali, the departure of the former army chief, Kayumba Nyamwasa, and in the run-up to the August 2010 presidential elections. Many of these detainees were later charged with threatening national security.

Some stated in court that they had been tortured and coerced to confess. In violation of international law, judges typically asked them to prove torture, rather than ensuring that the allegations are investigated. The failure of judges to probe confessions that defendants claimed to have been coerced undermines the credibility of the Rwandan justice system.

Two individuals – Robert Ndengeye Urayeneza and Sheikh Iddy Abbasi – are still missing since their enforced disappearance in March 2010.

At the United Nations Committee against Torture in Geneva in May 2012, the Rwandan authorities denied these cases of unlawful detention, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

The Committee against Torture called on the Rwandan government to investigate reports of secret detention places and provide information on enforced disappearances.

Individuals and even lawyers are afraid to raise allegations of unlawful detention and torture in Rwanda, fearful for their safety. One family took their case to the East African Court of Justice in Tanzania instead. The Court found that the detention of Lieutenant Colonel Rugigana Ngabo, without trial or charge for five months violated Rwanda’s obligations under the Treaty.

Following its obligation under the Convention against Torture, Rwanda has recently criminalized torture in its Penal Code.

Rwandan authorities have taken some positive steps to combat torture, including agreeing to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and inviting the Special Rapporteur on Torture to visit Rwanda. However, no official has yet committed to investigating these cases.

“Donors funding military training must suspend financial support to security forces involved in human rights violations,” said Jackson.

The Deputy Prosecutor General told Amnesty International that “there is no torture in our country and we can’t investigate on a false allegation.”

The number of new cases has declined over the last year, but the Rwandan authorities’ failure to prosecute those responsible makes it likely that J2 could revert to these practices in response to actual or perceived security threats.

Source: Amnesty International.

October 8, 2012   1 Comment

Amnesty International confirms Rwandan military intelligence tortured civilians

Rwandan military intelligence tortured civilians: Amnesty International

Sun Oct 7, 2012 – Amnesty International on Monday accused Rwandan military intelligence services of engaging in torture, unlawful detention and enforced disappearances of civilians.

The human rights group said in a report members of a Rwandan military intelligence department, known as J2, had tortured civilians with electric shocks, beatings and sensory deprivation to force confessions.

J2 also held civilians in military detention without charge or trial for months on end, Amnesty said.

Rwanda’s Ministry of Justice said on Sunday that while some illegal detentions had taken place, these abuses were handled by the courts.

“These occurred as a result of over-exuberance on the part of individuals within the security services and were dealt with through the courts which immediately put in place corrective measures,” the statement said.

Rwanda did not directly address the allegations of torture detailed in Amnesty’s report, but the ministry said reports of torture are “investigated through established channels and are treated with the utmost seriousness”.

Last month a report by Human Rights Watch said Rwanda has been supporting a rebellion in neighboring Congo, where the M23 rebels have committed widespread war crimes, including dozens of rapes and killings.

Rwanda has repeatedly denied involvement with M23 but many Western donors have suspended aid after a United Nations report concluded Rwandan officials were supplying the rebels with weapons and logistics.

Amnesty also called for donors to suspend funding for Rwanda’s security forces.

Between March 2010 and June 2012, Amnesty said it documented 45 cases of unlawful detention and 18 allegations of torture or ill-treatment at a military camp and in safe houses in Kigali.

Many men interviewed by Amnesty said they were rounded up after grenade attacks in Kigali in March 2010 and in the run-up to the presidential elections in August 2010, a poll which the incumbent president Paul Kagame won with 93 percent of the vote.

Many of those detained were later charged with threatening national security.

Source: Reuters

October 8, 2012   No Comments

Amnesty International condemns torture practices in Rwanda

Rwandan civilians tortured into making false confessions, says Amnesty
Former detainees tell Amnesty they were subjected to electric shocks and beatings in military camp and safe houses

Scores of civilians in Rwanda have allegedly been tortured into making false confessions after being detained illegally without charge or trial, an investigation by Amnesty International has found.

Former detainees claimed they were subjected to electric shocks, severe beatings and sensory deprivation while being held at a military camp and a secret network of safe houses in the capital, Kigali, according to Amnesty.

The report is the latest blow to the Rwandan president Paul Kagame’s battered reputation following allegations of persecuting opponents, gagging media and arming rebels in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo. International donors have partially suspended aid but Britain in particular is under mounting pressure to go further.

Amnesty’s report, Rwanda: Shrouded in Secrecy, Illegal Detention and Torture by Military Intelligence, asserts a pattern of unlawful detention, enforced disappearances and allegations of torture carried out by operatives from a military intelligence unit known as J2.

Most of the detainees were rounded up by the military from March 2010 onwards after a series of deadly grenade attacks in Kigali and in the runup to the August 2010 presidential election, which Kagame won with 93% after two of his main challengers were jailed.

Three former detainees from the military Camp Kami told Amnesty they were subjected to electric shocks during interrogations by J2 operatives. “I was taken to another office,” one recalled. “Everyone was there when they put this electric thing on my back and forced me to accept that I worked with the people throwing the grenades . When I got to the point of dying, I told them to bring me a piece of paper [to sign], but they continued to torture me.”

Another told Amnesty’s researchers: “There are other rooms where they put you and you lose your memory. They ask you a question and when you find yourself again they ask you a question. When you return to normal, they sting you. The electric thing they use is like a pen and they put it under your arms. It is like charcoal. When they sting you, all your body is electrolysed and the entire body is paralysed.”

Amnesty said it had received three independent reports that some detainees at Camp Kami had bags placed over their heads during interrogations to restrict their breathing. Former prisoners said they had items placed in their mouth to heighten pain and stop them screaming while they were beaten during interrogations.

Detention periods ranged from 10 days to nine months without access to lawyers, doctors or family members, Amnesty said. Many of these detainees were later charged with threatening national security. Two individuals – Robert Ndengeye Urayeneza and Sheikh Iddy Abbasi – are still missing since their disappearance in March 2010, the NGO added.

Sarah Jackson, Amnesty’s acting deputy Africa director, said: “The Rwandan military’s human rights record abroad is increasingly scrutinised, but their unlawful detention and torture of civilians in Rwanda is shrouded in secrecy. Donors funding military training must suspend financial support to security forces involved in human rights violations.”

Amnesty said it had conducted more than 70 interviews and documented 45 cases of unlawful detention and 18 allegations of torture or ill-treatment at Camp Kami, Mukamira military camp and in safe houses in Kigali.

Rwandan officials dismissed the findings. Alphonse Hitiyaremye, the country’s deputy prosecutor general, told Amnesty: “There is no torture in our country and we can’t investigate on a false allegation.”

Tito Rutaremara, a senator who has worked with Kagame for 25 years, told the Guardian: “Let Amnesty come and show us these ‘safe houses’. If they know all this, let them come and say it is here. Bring these witnesses.”

Louise Mushikiwabo, the foreign affairs minister, posted on Twitter: “Rwanda will act on all credible claims of torture but won’t engage in a shouting match w/ another NGO seeking headlines at Rwanda’s expense.”

Source: TheGuardian

October 8, 2012   No Comments

Kagame Arrives In Uganda for Ugandan Golden Jubilee Independence celebration

Oct 8, 2012 – President Paul Kagame has arrived at Entebbe International Airport ahead of the Golden Jubilee Independence celebration due Tuesday at Kololo ceremonial grounds.

Kagame’s plane touched the tarmac at around 9:45am.

Other presidents who have arrived include South Sudan’s Salva Kiir, DRC President Joseph Kabange Kabila and Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza.

At least 15 presidents are expected to attend the celebrations.

Time to compare with the number of Heads of state who attended the 50 year’s anniversary of the Independence of Rwanda on 1st July this year. That will give an idea on how popular and liked is Paul Kagame within his pairs in Africa and around the world.

October 8, 2012   No Comments

Rwanda-DRC: The stakes of the Kampala summit

Kagame and Kabila

For the fourth time in three months, the eleven countries from the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICLGR) will meet in Kampala tomorrow. Their discussions will focus on ways to deal with the crisis in the eastern Congo, in particular the creation of a neutral force.

Preliminary meetings have already begun – various UN and AU delegations have spoken with ICLGR’s military advisors, and a report from the Joint Verification Mechanism (JVM) is being provided. A diplomat attending the summit told me that they will need some more time for the military planning, and a Military Assessment Team (MAT) will apparently brief the ICLGR again on October 24-25.

The mood in Kampala is skeptical – the meeting comes on the heels of the mini-summit organization on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on September 27. Little concrete came out of the summit, and the UN said that the neutral force idea would have to be further refined for it to receive the backing of the UN Security Council.

Meanwhile, relations between the Congo and Rwanda have reached a new low. Kagame, in an interview with TIME and a speech in front of parliament, has described Kabila’s government as “ideologically bankrupt” (along with the M23), and “does not respect or work for its citizens.” He has also accused Kinshasa of incorporating genocidaires into his army. A member of the Congolese delegation, on the other hand, has said the Rwandans weren’t acting in good faith during the negotiations, taking the M23’s side (Kagame has said publicly that there needs to be a political solution, the M23’s demands need to be listened to).

But the biggest obstacles to the so-called neutral force are logistical: Until now, only Tanzania has pledged troops, and even then it is unclear whether those troops would accept to conduct risky counterinsurgency operations in the mountains and jungles of the Kivus. And no one has figured out how to finance the force – while many African countries are enthusiastic about it, the funding would mostly likely come from western donors, who are largely skeptical.

While the Congolese and the M23 have had some informal contacts in Kampala, both sides are already planning for further military operations. The Congolese have moved thousands of troops to the Kivus for reinforcement, and the M23 have trained  hundreds of new recruits in recent months. The Congolese have also reached out to southern African countries for bilateral military support, and there are suggestions (largely coming from Kinshasa) that the Angolans and South Africans might be willing to back them if push comes to shove.

Source: Congo Siasa.

October 8, 2012   No Comments