News / Africa

US Criticizes Rwanda Over Disappearances, Press Freedom

FILE - Deputy State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf is seen at the August 28, 2013, daily briefing at the State Department in Washington, D.C.
FILE - Deputy State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf is seen at the August 28, 2013, daily briefing at the State Department in Washington, D.C.
Reuters
— The United States expressed deep concern on Wednesday over the arrest and disappearance of dozens of Rwandans over the last two months, including people held up to two months without being charged or allowed to communicate with their families.
 
The State Department also cited “credible reports” that journalists have been threatened in the central African country and that the government has suspended a call-in news radio program.
 
“The United States calls upon the Government of Rwanda to account for individuals arrested over the past two months and currently in custody,” spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
 
Harf said in a statement some of those arrested were detained “incommunicado” without charges, but that Rwandan authorities recently have begun bringing a number of them before a court.
 
“We also call upon Rwanda to fully respect freedom of expression, including for members of the press so that they can investigate, report, and facilitate discussion on issues of public concern,” Harf said.
 
Washington's concern followed a May 16 Human Rights Watch report that said an increasing number of people have been disappearing or detained in Rwanda since March. It said some were detained by the Rwanda Defense Force and may be in military custody.
 
The rights group collected information on 14 people it said were missing in the northwestern Rubavu district, near the Congolese border, and said there were several additional cases in Musanze and the capital, Kigali.
 
It said some may have been targeted because of suspicion they were aligned with the rebel group Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR.
 
Kigali considers FDLR a terrorist organization that espouses a genocidal ideology.
 
Composed in part of former soldiers and Hutu militia who fled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo after massacring 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus during Rwanda's 1994 genocide, the FDLR has since sought to topple the government of President Paul Kagame.
 
Harf said the United States supported Rwanda's efforts to identify people who want to use violence against its people or the government but warned against arbitrary arrests and detentions.
 
Human Rights Watch said Rwandan officials told them they were investigating the cases, but did not provide details.
 
On Monday, the Rwandan Justice Ministry released an assessment of Human Rights Watch's activities in the country, questioning its motives.
 
“Is it a bona fide, independent human rights watcher or an embedded undercover political actor?” according to a copy of the assessment published in the Rwandan newspaper The New Times.
 
The ministry accused Human Rights Watch of trying to “sanitize and/or legitimize” the FDLR in its May 16 statement. It said Rwandan authorities have been dealing with cross-border criminal incursions into northwestern Rwanda since March.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid