Agnès Uwimana and Saidati Mukakibibi wrote for a local Rwandan newspaper, Umurabyo. Some of their articles displeased the Rwandan government. The result: seventeen and seven years in prison on grounds of defamation, threatening national security, “divisionism” and genocide denial.
The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the East African Court of Justice and the African Commission will speak out on the criminal prosecution of those who challenge the conduct of public officials, muzzling a free press in the run-up to elections, and the space allowed for open and critical debate in a post-conflict society.
On 28 May, the Rwandan High Court acquitted radio presenter Epaphrodite Habarugira of charges of "minimising the genocide" and spreading "genocide ideology" and queried why the case was brought at all.
Ms Mukakibibi was convicted together with the Umurabyo editor, Agnes Uwimana-Nkusi, who is serving an additional year for having also “defamed” the Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, through another article.
The reporting of stories relating to national security has been a concern for governments around the world for many years, but since 9/11 there has been a dramatic increase in the number of cases against journalists pursued in the name of national security.
Britain is notorious for the expense of defending libel claims and for that reason is increasingly attracting libel tourism - the use of British courts by overseas litigants. In 2006 Britain's Mirror Group Newspapers, following a privacy claim against it, took a case to the European Court of Human Rights challenging the high cost of defending such claims in the United Kingdom.