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Rwanda rejects Amnesty International’s unsubstantiated claims

Freedom of expression is guaranteed by the constitution of Rwanda, we have a vibrant and growing media community and varied political discourse but once again, Amnesty International has chosen to misrepresent reality in an inaccurate and highly partisan report.

In today’s report, Amnesty International refuses to acknowledge the significant developments that directly address some of its own recommendations, preferring instead to make unsubstantiated claims about Rwanda.

The Minister for Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama said: “The rule of law, free and fair elections and freedom of speech are the hallmark of politics in Rwanda today. We welcome constructive partnerships with different groups as we endeavour to best serve the very people who elected us; however these partnerships must be based on facts and mutual respect.”

The government has recently announced that the Rwanda’s media will regulate itself, the state broadcaster is set to be transformed to a public one and a new media law grants the right to access to information. There is, however, no mention of any of these developments in Amnesty’s report.

Also missing is the fact that Rwanda has more than 35 privately owned newspapers and 12 privately owned radio stations. Four international radio stations - VOA, BBC, Radio France International and Deutsche Welle are also based here and free to say whatever they wish.

Any review of the headlines of independent print and broadcast press will show that the President and the Government are regularly criticised, even insulted, without facing any action.

Like many countries around the world, Rwanda has genocide ideology laws to ensure that we never return to the hatred and divisionism of the past. However, as we continue to rebuild our country and develop our justice system we are amending all our statutes.

Accordingly, the laws on genocide ideology and divisionism are currently under review and we will amend them as is best for Rwanda and our people.

Amnesty International is choosing either to ignore the progress Rwanda is making or it is unaware of the reality on the ground, but we will continue in our efforts to transform our society, including the legal system, for the benefit of all Rwandans.