News / Europe

Sarkozy Urged to Confront Kagame on Rights Issues

Media rights groups are condemning Rwanda's criminal conviction of three top journalists at one of the country's last independent news publications. The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders is calling on French President Nicolas Sarkozy to address press freedom concerns with his Rwandan counterpart during a watershed visit to the central African nation later this week.

The publisher, the acting editor, and a reporter at the private Rwandan weekly Umuseso were sentenced to prison terms and fines this week for reporting on an alleged romantic affair between two senior government officials.

Global press freedom watchdog groups, including U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists and France-based Reporters Without Borders, are slamming the convictions, which they cite as the latest example of the systematic repression of free press in Rwanda.

Earlier this week Amnesty International accused Rwandan President Paul Kagame of using vague criminal speech laws to suppress political opposition.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is arriving in the Rwandan capital Kigali later this week to signal a pivotal thawing of relations between the two nations.

Reporters Without Borders secretary-general, Jean-Francois Julliard, said his organization was urging the French leader to bring up the issue of press freedoms during his meeting with Mr. Kagame.

"We have sent a letter to President Sarkozy about the situation of the press in Rwanda, and we want him to speak about this issue and human rights in general with President Kagame during Sarkozy's visit to Kigali in a few days," he said.

Relations between France and Rwanda have been icy ever since the 1994 genocide that left some 800,000 dead in 100 days, most of them were Rwandan Tutsi. Kagame's ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front has accused the French of supporting the ethnic Hutu militias which led the slaughter.

Rwanda cut off official diplomatic ties between the two nations after a French judge accused President Kagame of ordering the killing in 1994 of Rwanda's then-leader, whose death served as the trigger for the ethnic bloodshed.

The two nations restored ties last year.

The three journalists were convicted for violating the privacy of government officials in reporting the alleged extramarital affair between Kigali's mayor and the cabinet affairs minister. But the three media workers say that the issue is a matter of public concern because a 2008 ethics law specifically forbids public officials from committing adultery.

Julliard says that the Umuseso weekly, printed in the local Kinyarwanda language, is significant because it is one of the few remaining private weeklies remaining with an independent editorial stance, which often has put it at odds with the Kagame government.

Rwanda ranked 157th out of 175 countries worldwide in a Reporters Without Borders 2009 press freedom index. Only three African countries - Eritrea, Somalia, and Equatorial Guinea - fared worse.

A recent Committee to Protect Journalists report on attacks against the press last year around the world also named Rwanda as one of the worst offenders of media rights on the continent.

The Rwandan judge refused to order the Umuseso publication completely shut down, as had been sought by the state prosecutor.

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid