Kagame’s Justice Minister Proves Rwanda is a Lawless State

General Paul Kagame and his former justice minister and attorney general, Johnston Busingye

By David Himbara

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Rwanda, Johnston Busingye, is unaware he is supposed to be the guardian of the public interest. In countries governed by laws, the holder of this position remains neutral and nonpartisan at all times. But Busingye shoots from the hip without considering the implications of his words or actions. Busingye engages in social media and even takes sides in debates about legal/criminal matters still under police investigation. The notion that justice is impartial is alien in Kagame’s Rwanda.

On March 16, 2021, Christopher Kayumba launched his Rwandese Platform for Democracy (RPD). As expected, he immediately faced a legal/criminal challenge, something that has become predictable in Rwanda, whenever a new political party is announced. A day after Kayumba announced the formation of RPD, the Rwandan media suddenly discovered damaging news on him. The newspapers reported that Kayumba had sexually assaulted one of his students four years ago.

Sure enough, on March 23, 2021, Kayumba was summoned to Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) which interrogated him for hours about the alleged sexual assault. We are supposed to believe that none of these developments had anything to do with Kayumba’s launch of Rwandese Platform for Democracy. Meanwhile, the alleged victim, Fiona Ntarindwa, took to Twitter to announce that Kayumba sexually assaulted her in January 2017, to which Kayumba replied on the same medium that she was lying.

But here is the biggest surprise in the saga. On the day RIB interrogated Kayumba, Rwanda Justice Minister and Attorney General, Johnston Busingye, jumped to Twitter to lecture Kayumba in the following terms:

“@Ckayumba, to attack the character of someone who reports GBV is meant to silence them, make others hesitant to report. It fuels more GBV. Deal with the allegations of the specific attempted rape incident and leave characters out of it.”

A genuine minister of justice cannot participate in social media debates, let alone advise any of the parties in this case because his job is similar to that of a referee – an official who must remain neutral to ensure that the rules are adhered to. Somebody should remind Busingye that he ought to at least pretend to be uninvolved, which is the minimum requirement of the minister in charge of justice.

Busigye has no business lecturing Kayumba or any other person facing a legal challenge – especially in Rwanda where criminal cases are routinely manufactured to silence the would-be opponents of the regime. Busingye’s behaviour confirms that Rwanda is a lawless state that operates on the whims of its rulers.