By David Himbara
Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza was detained in 2010. In 2013, her initial eight-year sentence was increased to 15 years. And, according to Rwandan and foreign media, President Paul Kagame granted mercy to Ingabire on September 14, 2018. But like everything else in Rwanda, surface appearances hide realities. Ingabire is essentially still a prisoner in a different form.
How Kagame deceived the world that he freed Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza.
To understand how Kagame deceived the world that he has freed Ingabire, one must analyze the Presidential Order Number 131/01 of September 14, 2018. This is the decree which supposedly gave clemency to Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. The outside world falsely believes that with the signing of Presidential Order Number 131/01 on September 14, 2018, Ingabire became free. After all, Ingabire was shown walking from the prison.
Here is how Kagame pulled off the deception:
- Ingabire had to literally beg for mercy. As the Presidential Order puts it, The beneficiary of the presidential mercy, herself, requests for the lifting of the imprisonment conditions. ”She addresses a written reasoned request to the President of the Republic.”
- Upon receiving mercy from Kagame, Ingabire had ”to report to the Primary Level Prosecutor of her place of residence, at the prosecution office and notify the Prosecutor of the Village, Cell, Sector and District of her residence, within fifteen days.”
- Further, Ingabire has to ”appear before the Primary Level Prosecutor of her place of residence, at the prosecution office, once a month, on a day determined by the Primary Level Prosecutor.”
- Ingabire cannot freely travel outside Rwanda. In order to do so, she ”shall seek authorization from the Minister in charge of justice every time she wishes to go out of the country.”
The Presidential Order Number 131/01 of September 14, 2018, which supposedly freed Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza is a big lie. On the contrary, the Presidential Order Number 131/01 demands that Ingabire is under 24/7 surveillance at the by the Village, Cell, Sector, and District levels. Furthermore, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza must appear before the prosecutor once a month. Most critically, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza cannot freely travel outside Rwanda— to do so, she must receive permission from the Rwandan minister of justice. This is what Kagame calls freedom.