Union of Rwandan Journalists in Exile Applauds “Rwanda Classified” Investigation

John Williams Ntwali

The Union of Rwandan Journalists in Exile (UJRE) has expressed its strong support for the recently published report “Rwanda Classified: Inside the Repressive Machinery of Paul Kagame’s Regime.” Released on May 28, 2024, by Forbidden Stories, this report is the result of a collaborative effort involving 50 journalists from 17 media outlets across 11 countries. It provides an in-depth examination of the systematic human rights abuses perpetuated by the Rwandan government.

The UJRE’s endorsement of the report underscores the critical importance of shedding light on the ongoing repression in Rwanda. The report’s detailed documentation of abuses resonates deeply with the experiences of exiled Rwandan journalists, who have long been vocal about the hostile environment faced by media practitioners in their home country. The investigation serves as a powerful reminder of the urgent need for accountability and transparency in Rwanda.

A poignant aspect of the report is its tribute to the late John Williams Ntwali, a courageous investigative journalist who faced relentless persecution from the Rwandan government. Ntwali’s dedication to his craft, despite constant threats and intimidation, is emblematic of the broader struggle for press freedom in Rwanda. His tragic death, which the Rwandan authorities attempted to dismiss as a mere traffic accident, highlights the severe risks faced by journalists who dare to speak truth to power.

The UJRE has been unwavering in its call for an international and independent investigation into Ntwali’s death, which they believe was a targeted assassination. The release of “Rwanda Classified” bolsters this demand, providing further evidence of the need for a thorough inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his murder. The union hopes that this report will galvanize international support for their cause and lead to concrete actions against those responsible for repressing media freedom in Rwanda.

As Rwanda prepares for its upcoming elections in July 2024, the UJRE remains deeply concerned about the potential for further human rights violations. Past elections in Rwanda have been characterized by widespread fraud and violence, with journalists and human rights activists often bearing the brunt of the regime’s oppressive tactics. The union is calling on the international community to closely monitor the situation and to send a clear message to President Paul Kagame that such abuses will not be tolerated.

The UJRE, led by President Tharcisse Semana, continues to champion the cause of free and independent journalism. They believe that the international community’s vigilance and pressure can serve as a deterrent against further repression and violence in Rwanda. The union’s commitment to defending the rights of journalists and promoting freedom of expression remains steadfast, despite the formidable challenges posed by Kagame’s regime.