NYANZA: RWANDA: 22-FEBRUARY 2019: TRIAL OF FDU-INKINGI members CHOOSING BETWEEN LEGALITY AND LEGITIMACY


1. General context

Nine UDF Inkingi members, arrested in early September 2017, have spent 
more than a year in pre-trial detention. The tenth co-accused, Mr. 
TWAGIRIMANA Boniface, first vice-president of the FDU- Inkingi, has been 
reported missing since October 2018, when he was in the hands of the 
state. He was separated from his colleagues at Mageragere prison near 
the capital Kigali and transferred to Mpanga high security prison only 
five days before his disappearance. Several sources and analyses suggest 
that it may well be an operation of the intelligence services of the 
country.

It was in this context that the defence team requested, at the hearing 
of 12 February 2019, a provisional release of the nine members and a 
thorough investigation into the disappearance of the first 
Vice-President Mr. Boniface Twagirimana.

They are prosecuted before the Rwandan courts based on articles 200 i.e. 
formation of an irregular army or being part of it, and 203 i.e. 
conspiracy against the established power or the President of the 
Republic

2. Legal Framework

It is clear to anyone of good faith that the government has put in place 
legal barriers to prevent the opposition from functioning properly in 
the country. As examples

a.Organic Law No. 10/2013/OL of 11/7/2013 on the organisation of 
political formations and politicians in its articles 8.11 paragraph 2.12 
(c), Art 13 (3) and (5), 19 (4.5 and 6, 39 (2) and art. 40 (2)

Article 12 (c): Documents supporting the request for registration of a 
political organization include “a criminal record showing that he/she 
has not been sentenced, and if sentenced the offence committed and the 
penalty pronounced” and art 13 (5) relating to requirements for being in 
the political organization’s management one of the conditions is “not to 
have been sentenced to an imprisonment equal to or exceeding six (6) 
months”.

b.Criminal Code in its articles on offences against the security of the 
state, offences against public safety and offences against the power in 
place.

Different articles were used against the opposition in Rwanda. For 
example, 6 members of the FDU-Inkingi spent a year in prison supposedly 
that they did not give the information to the local authorities when 
they met our Secretary General Sylvain Sibomana who had just met them to 
recruit them in our party.

Today the Secretary-General of our party is serving a sentence of 8 
years in jail allegedly for inciting the population against the 
government under article 204

I myself have been condemned by the Rwandan courts to 15 years ‘ 
imprisonment based on articles 191 relating to conspiracy and 204 
incitement relating inciting the population to uprise against the 
government based on law 84/2013 punishing those who are accused of 
having genocide ideology.

3. Decision of the Court on the request of FDU-Inkingi defence team.

Regarding the nine members of the UDF-Inkingi, the 12/2/2019, their 
lawyers had requested their provisional releases but today the judges 
have ruled that they should remain in detention, on the pretext that the 
offences they are accused of are very serious.

Regarding the disappearance of our first Vice-President Boniface 
Twagirimana, on 12/2/ 2019 the lawyer had asked the court to authorize a 
thorough investigation into his disappearance. Today the court replied 
that it was satisfied with the official version given by the prison 
services, which is contradicted by testimonies of the persons who were 
at the scene on the day of his disappearance.

It is astonishing that the judges did not order an investigation as we 
asked when there are serious indications that contradict the official 
position of the prison services.

We surprised because in other cases when a prisoner escapes from prison, 
the prison authorities launch a search throughout the country and even 
the relevant authorities issue arrest warrants. However, in the case of 
our Vice-president, nothing like this happened. It was his family 
members, his mother, his young brother who were taken by Rwanda 
Investigation Bureau for tough interrogation after we had criticized the 
authorities for not doing so. Indeed, we had asked the question as to 
why no serious and immediate investigation was ever carried out by the 
competent services . His own family was interviewed only after 3 weeks 
following the alleged escape. It was then that the agents of the state 
went to confiscate the telephones of members of Twagirimana family.

One other reason why we do not accept the official version, is that Mr. 
Boniface Twagirimana received his wife’s visit two days before his 
disappearance. According to her statement, her husband had shown no sign 
of despair to the point of attempting such a spectacular escape. On the 
contrary he was hoping to get out of jail soon. He believed that my 
release foreshadowed a political openness and above all that I had 
declared that I would plead for their release.

Finally, the prison guards confirm that Mr. Boniface Twagirimana was 
taken away by a state vehicle.

The decision of the court will not deter our determination to seek 
justice for our comrade in our struggle for democracy in Rwanda. So, we 
are going to take the matter to the court of Justice of East Africa. We 
have also referred the matter to the UN Working Group on Enforced or 
Involuntary Disappearances, based in Geneva.

Legitimacy

Given these barriers based on legality, the question that everyone is 
asking is what the FDU-Inkingi will do when faced with this wall of laws 
or the repeated violations of human rights that members are often 
victims.

Even if the laws have been put in place to prevent us from functioning, 
our demands for the respect of our civil and political rights are 
legitimate. They are recognized by our Constitution and by the 
international treaties and conventions that our country has signed and 
ratified. We will therefore continue to fight peacefully for the opening 
of the political space and for the full development of the multiparty in 
Rwanda in order to allow the opposition to play its role as a check 
against the abuse of power and to provide an alternative to the people.

It is in this context that our priority is not to register the party but 
to obtain political space in Rwanda that allows the opposition to play 
its role.

We have a duty to help the authorities of our country understand that it 
is possible to build constructive opposition in our country and that it 
is for the welfare of all Rwandans.

We have a duty to help the Rwandan people to overcome the fear that 
prevents them from denouncing social injustices of which they are 
victims.

We are aware that our commitment to the democratisation of our country 
is not one-off event but a process.

I invite all of you to be the voice that calls for Rwanda to be 
democratic, respectful of the rule of law and imbued with the political 
will to promote equal opportunity among Rwandans.

Nyanza 22/02/2019

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza
President of FDU-Inkingi

Loading...