Ingabire Victoire Advocates for Clearance of Conviction in Rwanda’s High Court

On February 14, 2024, in Kigali, Rwanda, the High Court commenced hearings on the case of Madame Ingabire Victoire, who seeks to have her conviction expunged. Ingabire, a notable figure, was originally imprisoned in 2010 for charges including conspiracy and genocide denial but was released in 2018 following a pardon by President Paul Kagame.

During the court session, Ingabire, represented by her lawyer Me Gatera Gashabana, articulated her compliance with the conditions set forth upon her release. She emphasized her adherence to the government’s programs and her efforts to live peacefully within her community. Ingabire also highlighted her observance of the legal requirement to report regularly to the local prosecutor, except during the Covid-19 pandemic, citing her vulnerability to the virus as a reason for staying at home as per government directives. She noted that the requisite five-year period to petition for the removal of her conviction has elapsed.

Me Gashabana argued that Ingabire had foregone visiting her family abroad to meet the conditions of her release and urged the court to lift her conviction, suggesting that a pardoned or released individual should not remain stigmatized.

Contrary to Ingabire’s claims, the prosecution challenged the motion to expunge her record, insisting that such a decision cannot be made merely because five years have passed since her release. They highlighted instances where Ingabire failed to meet monthly check-ins with the local prosecutor and questioned her behavior, which included an investigation into her conduct since 2019 over three separate cases by the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), though these cases have not been formally presented to the prosecutor.

Furthermore, the prosecution objected to Ingabire’s conduct as the president of the unregistered political party DALFA-Umulinzi, arguing that her actions contravene Rwandan law. They maintained that the gravity of her initial convictions for conspiracy and genocide denial should preclude the possibility of expunging her record.

Me Gashabana contended that the accusations of misconduct have no basis that would prevent the court from considering the expungement of her conviction. He argued that the investigation into Ingabire’s behavior does not substantiate claims of misconduct and that DALFA-Umulinzi is not being utilized as a political party but is in the process of meeting the necessary legal requirements for registration.

The judge announced that the verdict would be delivered on March 13, 2014 leaving the resolution of this significant case pending.