Rwanda: Call for an independent enquiry into the death of journalist John Williams Ntwali

Dave Proffer via Wikimedia Commons

Paris-Geneva, 24 January 2023. The circumstances of John Williams Ntwali’s death, a human rights defender and investigative journalist in Rwanda, must be clarified and an independent enquiry opened, ask the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT) and the Observatory for Human Rights in Rwanda (ODHR).

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a partnership of the International Federation for Human Rights and the World Organisation Against Torture) and ODHR deplore the death of John Williams Ntwali on 18 January 2023, according to the Rwandan police. He was reportedly hit by a car while riding a motorbike during the night of 17-18 January 2023 in Kigali.

John Williams Ntwali was a human rights defender, the editor of the Rwandan online newspaper The Chronicles and the director of the Pax TV-Ireme News YouTube channel. He was known for his independent investigations and his involvement with personalities critical of the Rwandan regime, some of whom were in detention. The founder of the same newspaper The Chronicles and political opponent, Dr. Christopher Kayumba, was one of them.

Prior to his death, and in the course of his work as a journalist and human rights defender in Rwanda, John Williams Ntwali had been arrested and detained several times by the Rwandan authorities. He was also subjected to continuous attacks and threats, particularly in the pro-government media. He was investigating subjects and individuals critical of the regime, having himself been arrested and detained on several occasions in connection with his investigative activities, notably in the run-up to the 2017 presidential election.

As fundamental rights and freedoms in Rwanda are severely curtailed and attacked, the Observatory and ODHR, a member organisation of FIDH in Rwanda, call for a prompt, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation to clarify the circumstances of John Williams Ntwali’s death, and to identify all those responsible.

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