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CPJ Condemns Killing of Rwandan Journalist in Uganda

  • Douglas Mpuga

This week, a Rwandan journalist was shot dead in a pub in Kampala, Uganda.
Charles Ingabire, who had sought refuge in Uganda for political reasons, was the online editor of the news site Inyenyeri. He had earlier worked as a correspondent for another Kampala-based online site, Umuvugizi.

Ingabire was an outspoken critic of the Rwanda government.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned the fatal shooting and called on the Ugandan police to identify the culprits and bring them to justice.

CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes said it is too early to tell who is behind the murder.

“It might be a personal issue, but based on CPJ research and some of our contacts in Kampala, we do know that a lot of exiled Rwandan journalists are living in Kampala, and they often feel threatened by security agencies that seem to be tracking them down.”

He said there is no evidence yet to show that the Rwanda government was involved in the killing. What makes it look suspicious, some say, is that Ingabire was outspoken in his criticism [of the Rwanda government].

Rhodes said many journalists who flee to neighboring states are not safe because security agents sometimes pursue critics beyond the borders of their home countries.

He cited the threat by agents to Ethiopian journalists exiled in Kenya, as well as Rwanda journalists living in Uganda.

Rhodes is optimistic the Uganda authorities will investigate the death of Ingabire.
“After speaking to the police [in Uganda] they assured me they are taking this case seriously. They already have, for example, his phone which they are using to track the calls he made recently.”

This is not the first time Ingabire was attacked. Unknown assailants allegedly attacked him two months ago in Kampala, took his laptop computer, and demanded he shut down Inyenyeri.

Ingabire is the second Rwandan journalist killed in less than two years, according to the CPJ. Last June, former deputy editor of Umuvugizi, Jean-Léonard Rugambage, was shot as he drove home in Kigali. Two suspects were convicted on homicide charges, but CPJ and local journalists expressed deep skepticism about the prosecution.