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Rwanda 14 September 2005

Journalist imprisoned for criticising popular tribunals

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the arrest of Jean Léonard Rugambage of the fortnightly Umuco on 7 September, 10 days after he wrote an article accusing certain popular tribunal judges in the district of Ruyamba of corruption.

Police spokesman Deo Badege said he was arrested on the orders of judges with the popular tribunals, known as gacacas. After being held in a police station in Gitarama province, he was transferred to the province’s main prison on 12 September.

“It is unacceptable that a journalist should be thrown in prison just for writing about the functioning of the gacacas,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We also deplore the lack of transparency surrounding his arrest. He has not been told how long he is to be held or when he will appear in court.”

The organisation added: “Coming on heels of the imprisonment of Belgian missionary priest Guy Theunis on 10 September, the news of Rugambage’s arrest has increased our concern that Rwandan justice has become much harsher.”

Umuco editor Bonaventure Bizumuremyi was interrogated twice in early August after publishing articles criticising the prosecution of President Pasteur Bizimungu and accusing members of the police force of embezzlement. He says he has continued to receive telephone threats since then.

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