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Rwanda: Journalist Charged Under “Genocide Ideology” law Released

31 July 2012

ARTICLE 19 welcomes the acquittal of Rwandan radio journalist Epaphrodite Habarugira who had been charged with making remarks that were deemed to have denigrated genocide, punishable under Article 3 of law No. 18/2008.

While it is encouraging that Habarugira has been released, it is unfortunate that other independent journalists have been convicted under this law, which has an impermissible restriction on the right to freedom of expression under international law. The vague language used on the “genocide ideology” law fails to establish with certainty as to what behaviour is prohibited and it should be urgently reviewed.” said Henry Maina ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa Director.

Habarugira was arrested on 23 April 2012 while on air at Radio Huguka/Muhanga after mixing up the Kinyarwanda words for "victims" and "survivors". According to the prosecution, his words were deemed to deny the 1994 genocide.

In line with Rwanda’s Universal Periodic Review recommendations which received support of the Rwandan government, ARTICLE 19 calls for reform of Articles 2 and 3 of Law No 18/2008, which have severely compromised the ability of journalists to inform the Rwandan public.

The extremely broad scope of speech that may be proscribed under this law fails to meet the international requirement of proportionality and stifles any independent thinking and expression regarding the 1994 genocide.

The reform should result in a new “genocide ideology” law that allows the government to deter hate speech where needed, but also protects the right to freedom of expression as enshrined in international law.

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