Rwanda: Arrest and release of seven members of the steering Committee of the Great Lakes Human Rights League (LDGL)

Press release
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RWA 001 / 1015 / OBS 085
Arbitrary detention / Release
16 October 2015

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Rwanda.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arrest followed by the release of seven newly-elected members of the steering Committee of the Great Lakes Human Rights League (LDGL), namely Ms. Gertrude Kazoviyo, LDGL President, M. Innocent Sibomana, First Vice President, Mr. Jules Joseph Kanjira, Second Vice President, Messrs. Audace Gahiga and Félicien Gashema, new members, as well as Messrs. Anaclet Hakizimana and Jean Pierre Rutikanga, members of the monitoring council.

According to the information received, on October 13, 2015, the seven newly-elected members of the LDGL steering committee were arrested during a meeting organised at the LDGL offices in Kabeza, in the Kicukiro district, city of Kigali, and were taken to the Kabeza police station. The purpose of the meeting was to plan the transfer of power from the old LDGL steering committee to the new one. In the morning of October 13, a former LGDL staff member, – who the ex-president had illegally appointed to the position of Executive Secretary, – tried to disrupt the meeting several times and was prevented from entering the LDGL offices. He allegedly called in the police to have the new committee members arrested.

The seven members of the new steering committee were released late on the same evening after having been interrogated on, among other, the legality of the LGDL General Assembly that was held in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, on October 2 and 3, 2015, and the election of the new steering committee.

On October 12, 2015, two immigration officers had burst into the LDGL offices and arrested Mr. Epimack Kwokwo, the “legitimate” LGDL Executive Secretary. Mr. Kwokwo was taken to the immigration headquarters and questioned for more than six hours on the registration of the LDGL with the authorities, his travel permit for the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL), and his work permit, before being released.

On October 14, Mr. Kwokwo was summoned to the police station and questioned again for approximatively six hours on the legality of the LGDL General Assembly and the legality of the new committee.

While Mr. Kwokwo was being interrogated, members of the former steering committee forced their way into the Kigali offices and are still occupying the premises. As a result, members of the new steering committee are forced to work at home for safety reasons.

The Observatory calls upon the Rwandan authorities to immediately stop all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Gertrude Kazoviyo, Messrs. Jules Joseph Kanjira, Audace Gahiga, Félicien Gashema, Anaclet Hakizimana as well as Mr. Epimack Kwokwo, and all human rights defenders in Rwanda.

Action requested:

The Observatory urges you to write to the Rwandan authorities and request that they:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Gertrude Kazoviyo and Messrs. Jules Joseph Kanjira, Audace Gahiga, Félicien Gashema, Anaclet Hakizimana and Epimack Kwokwo, and all human rights defenders in Rwanda;

ii. Put an end to all forms of harassment against LDGL members and all human rights defenders in Rwanda;

iii. Immediately carry out a thorough, impartial, investigation of all the events described above and prosecute the perpetrators before competent courts;

iv. Comply with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1998, in particular:

– Article 1 stating that “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;
– Article 6 according to which, “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: a) to know, seek, obtain, receive and hold information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including having access to information as to how those rights and freedoms are given effect in domestic legislative, judicial or administrative systems; b) as provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; c) to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”.
– and its Article 12.2 says that “The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.
More generally, abide by the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the regional and international instruments on human rights that have been ratified by Rwanda.


 Mr Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, Urugwiro Village, P.O. Box 15, Kigali, Rwanda
 Mr Anastase Murekezi, Prime Minister, P.O Box 1334 Kigali, Rwanda, Email:, Tel: + 250 252 586 902, Fax:+ 250 252 584 648
 Mr Sheik Mussa Harerimana, Minister of Internal Security (MININTER), P.O. Box 446 Kigali, Rwanda, Email:, Tel/Fax. + 250 252 58 78 81
 Mr Stephens Kanuuma Nuwagaba, Advisor to the Minister of Local Administration
(MINALOC), Email:, Tel:+250788478003
 Mr Johnston Busingye, Minister of Justice (MINIJUST), P.O. Box 160 Kigali, Rwanda, Email:, Tel: +250 252 586398, Fax: +250 252 586509 
 The Director General of the Rwanda Governance Board, PO BOX 6819, Kigali, Rwanda, Email:, Tel: + 250 255 112 023
 Chairperson of the National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH), BP 269 Kigali, Rwanda, Email:, Tel: + 250 5042 71, Fax: + 250 504 270
 Mr Eugène-Richard GASANA, Ambassador, Permanent Representation of the Republic of Rwanda to the United Nations, 124 East 39th Street, New York, NY 10016, USA,, Tel: +1 212 679 9010/9023, Fax: +1 212 679 9133
 Mr Michel Ryan, Ambassador, European Union Delegation fo Rwanda, H. E. the Ambassador, 1807 Umuganda Boulevard, Aurore Building, 515 Kacyiru Kigali, Rwanda, Email:, Tel: +250 252 58 57 38/39/40/41, Fax:+250 252 58 57 34/36

We suggest that you also write to the diplomatic representations of Rwanda in your respective countries.

Paris-Geneva, 16 October 2015

Please inform the Observatory of any actions taken, and indicate the code number of this appeal.

The Observatory, a joint FIDH–OMCT programme aims to protect human rights defenders who are victims of violations and to bring them material assistance as quickly as possible.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax FIDH: 33 1 43 55 25 18 / 33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29
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