Rwanda: Human Rights and Political Prisoners
Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC) for a briefing on the human rights situation in Rwanda.
Rwanda has been governed by President Paul Kagame and his Rwandan Patriotic Front since 1994. In the 25 years since the end of the genocide that claimed the lives of 800,000 people, Rwanda has made a remarkable social and economic comeback. The government has achieved improvements to health care, boosted agricultural outputs, promoted investment, and increased women’s participation in politics.
Unfortunately, this economic and social transformation has been overshadowed by an increasingly grim outlook for civil and political rights in the country. In the past several years, numerous domestic and international human rights organizations have trumpeted warnings that Kagame is using his authority to target political rivals and undermine freedom of expression. The government blocks access to news services and websites based abroad, monitors social media, permits authorities to hack telecommunication networks, maintains an onerous registration and reporting regime for nongovernmental organizations, and allows extrajudicial executions of petty offenders.
Individuals who criticize Kagame or openly challenge his administration are often the targets of government reprisals. Numerous opposition leaders have been arbitrarily arrested and sentenced to long prison terms. Close family members, employees or associates of such government critics have also found themselves targeted for arbitrary detention as a form of pressure or retaliation. Examples include 2003 presidential candidate Theoneste Niyitegeka, opposition leader and 2010 presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire, relatives of government critic David Himbara, former military officers Tom Byabagamba and Frank Rusagara along with their associate François Kabayiza, and 2017 presidential candidate Diane Rwigara and her mother Adeline and sister Anne.
In this context, the international community is rightfully concerned about Rwanda’s human rights situation. Panelists will review ongoing human rights abuses in Rwanda and offer recommendations for the U.S. government.
This briefing is open to Members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public, and the media. For any questions, please contact Jamie Staley (for Mr. Hultgren) at (202-226-1516) or Jamie.Staley@mail.house.gov or Kimberly Stanton (for Mr. McGovern) at 202-225-3599 or Kimberly.Stanton@mail.house.gov.
- Adotei Akwei, Deputy Director for Advocacy and Government Relations, Amnesty International USA
- Kate Barth, Legal Director, Freedom Now
- Veronica Shandari, daughter of Rwandan prisoner of conscience Frank Rusagara
- Alexis Arieff, Specialist in African Affairs, Congressional Research Service