MLDI defends journalists at Rwandan Supreme Court
On 30 January, the Rwandan Supreme Court will be hearing the appeal of Agnès Uwimana and Saïdati Mukakibibi, two journalists currently serving prison sentences of seventeen and seven years for articles they wrote. MLDI's in-house lawyer Nani Jansen together with international criminal law specialist, John Jones, will be conducting the defence alongside Rwandan lawyers.
On January 30, the Rwandan Supreme Court will be hearing the appeal of Agnès Uwimana and Saïdati Mukakibibi, two journalists currently serving sentences of seventeen and seven years imprisonment.
The two were convicted in February 2010 for having endangered national security and insulted the president in a series of articles published in their journal, Umurabyo. In the articles, they criticised President Kagame's employment and agricultural policies and questioned why he was continuing to work with high-ranking officials who had been involved in Rwanda's 1994 genocide. They are also accused of having denied the Rwandan genocide by writing that Rwandans were killing Rwandans - thereby contradicting the official doctrine.
MLDI has funded the defence of the two journalists throughout and is now sending its in-house lawyer Nani Jansen together with international criminal law specialist, John Jones, to argue the case before the Supreme Court. They will be working alongside Uwimana and Mukakibibi's Rwandan lawyers, Evaliste Nsabayezu and Jean-Claude Muhikira.
During the past two years MLDI has assisted in the defence of five other cases against Rwandan journalists - but this is the first in the Supreme Court. Here, we hope to stem the decline of free expression in the country: lower courts have consistently ruled against journalists, and as a result most have now fled the country. Even abroad they are not safe: last December, an exiled Rwandan journalist was shot dead under mysterious circumstances in Kampala, Uganda.