According to the investigations of the Global Campaign for Rwandan Human Rights a human rights organization based in London, a Rwandan blogger deported illegally from Norway would risk up to 15 years in jail!
Dr Joseph Nkusi arrived in Norway in 2009 as part of a team of African academics who came to do various research at Bergen university.
In 2010 he sought asylum because he was called back to Rwanda because he had criticise some of government programme online. He was warned that he will be punished.
His asylum case has been refused repeatedly and lost all his appeals. As he was not happy how his case was dealt with, particularly when he was not informed online the decision to refuse his asylum by relevant authorities,
In March 2011, he requested to be sent to Uganda where his family was and cancelled his asylum in Norway. He was informed that he will not be given his passport back, he will only get it when he get into the plane.
He bought a ticket and informed relevant authorities, on the day of travel he was given 2 policemen to take him until Uganda. The plane made a stop in Kigali – Rwanda for few hours before continuing to Uganda. Likely Rwandan authorities did not notice that he was in that plane. When they reached Uganda, the accompanying policemen gave Ugandan authorities documents stating that Dr Nkusi was being retuned because he had was living in Norway illegally. He was detained by Uganda Police for 3 days then re-sent to Norway because they said that they cannot deport a non-Uganda citizen to Uganda.
When he reached Norway, he was advice to seek a fresh asylum. His new asylum was also refused and appeal refused. In meantime, he had started an online blog that shared he used to share his different views about issues of Rwanda and its governance as well as cases of human rights abuses and oppression in hands of the Rwandan government. His blog named ‘Shikama’ became one of the most popular among online blogs that criticise the current government.
Since he had not been fairly treated by the Police which had given wrong information to Uganda authorities, due to the fact that he had mistreated by UDI and UNI throughout his asylum process he decided to take them to court.
On 26 and 27th September 2016, the court in Olso heard his case and it was planned that the court will deliver its decision on 11 October 2016.
He was not able to get that decision because on night of 6th October 2016 – the police came to take him from the refugee centre of Kongsberg where he was living.
They took him in the deportation centre in Olso. He was not given chance to go infront of a judge unlike other detainees of that deportation centre. He was not given an ID card as well. He was given few minutes to speak to a lawyer over the phone, the lawyer told him that they should not deport him because he had a case which was pending. On 7 October, he was hand and leg cuffed taken in plane. When they reached Amsterdam, they took out cuffs from legs. When they reached Ethiopia, he spoke to one of three policemen who accompanied him and explain the situation and what was likely to happen when they reach Rwanda, the policeman became upset and weep – he apologised for what was happening and explained that they were not decision makers, they were just following orders.
When they arrived in Rwanda on 8th October, they all were surprised that authorities were not informed about his arrival. No arrangements were made to receive him. When Rwanda police arrived at the airport, they did not know who were deported. They had to google his name to identify who he was. The Rwandan police also requested a paper to the Norwegian Police so that they can sign to confirm that they have received Dr Nkusi. The Norwegian Police did not have anything like that. Those policemen spent 2-3 days in Kigali before returning to Norway.
Dr Nkusi is now in Kimironko prison near Kigali. Since he has arrived he has appealed three times before a judge.
He was promised a lawyer and he had met one.
He was charged with:
- Genocide denial crime
- Spending humours that aims to turn the populations against Rwandan authorities
- Spending false information that aims to tarnish the image of Rwanda
Each of the above crimes are associated to at least 15 years in prison.
Dr Nkusi’s family is now living in Uganda. They were supported financially by him. Since he was deported they are going to be in difficult situation.
The Global Campaign for Rwandan Human Rights views this case with utmost concern as it creates a dangerous precedent. This case highlights the norwegian government’s disinterest about the human rights situation in Rwanda.
In Rwanda, members of civil society, especially human rights defenders and journalists, have been primary targets of systematic repression by the authorities, but there is also no room for dissenting positions within government circles or the ruling party.
The Global Campaign for Rwandan Human Rights calls on Norwegian Government to take action and be an example of respect of human rights instead of being a paradise for criminals and spies close to the government of Kigali.