Rwanda

Belated vindication for free speech, media, in African Commission decision

Two women journalists, released from prison in Rwanda after serving their full jail terms for writing and publishing articles that ‘endangered national security’, have been vindicated by the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights. In its decision officially published last week, the commission found that Rwanda’s laws on defamation and freedom of expression violated the African Charter and should be amended. The two journalists, Agnes Uwimana-Nkusi and Saidati Mukakibibi, were charged in connection with articles published in 2010.

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Lawyers acting for Agnes Uwimana-Nkusi and Saidati Mukakibibi approached the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in October 2012. Both women were in jail at the time, serving sentences related to stories they had written and published, critical of Rwanda’s government and some of its policies.

Former Rwandan Chief Justice Jean Mutsinzi RIP

Rwanada’s first post-genocide Chief Justice, Jean Mutsinzi, died last week after a short illness. He was 81. Justice Mutsinzi served as Chief Justice in Rwanda between 1995 and 1999, and was later a member of both the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) Court of Justice and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, including a two-year term as president of this court.

The list of Justice Jean Mutsinzi’s legal and other accomplishments takes pages to encompass.

He was elected to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 2006 for a renewable six year term, and served as president of that court 2008 – 2010.

He had a Doctorate in Law from the University of Brussels and an impressive number of other legal qualifications. His position on the African Court followed a lengthy term as part of the judiciary of his home country, Rwanda.

Convicted of genocide, former Rwandan cabinet minister loses last attempt to stay out of jail

It has been a busy couple of months for one of the lesser-known – but critically important – courts in Arusha, Tanzania. Arusha houses a number of significant judicial bodies apart from the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights. Among these is a United Nations tribunal: the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, Rwanda (IR-MCT).

For those attending hearings of the IR-MCT’s Appeal Chamber in Arusha towards the end of September, each day brought new surprises.

Seven court days, between 16 and 24 September, were focused on the evidence of four witnesses who gave crucial testimony in the trial of Ngirabatwane some years before. It was mainly because of their evidence to the court that he was convicted of both direct and public incitement to genocide, and of instigating and abetting genocide.

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