Mr Sibomana Sylvain and his colleague Mutuyimana Anselme have appeared today December 4, 2017 in court to appeal against the common political charge of encouraging insurrection levelled against critics of the RPF regime. The hearing is taking place when the regime is doing everything possible, including repression and deceit, to uproot le FDU-Inkingi from the Rwanda political landscape. But it also happens at a time when the African Court for Human and People’s rights has ruled in the case of the President of FDU-Inkingi, Mrs Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, that article 463 (Organic Law 01/2012/OL, that is used to criminalise free speech, like in her case and the case of Sibomana and Mutuyimana, violates the Universal declaration of human rights, the African charter on human and peoples’ rights and the international convention on political and civil rights.
We challenge the Rwandan President of Rwanda to show that his is worthy of leading the African Union by respecting the decision of its court on matters of free speech. We also challenge the judges of the Supreme Court to follow the example of the African Court and go down in history as independent from the grip of the ruling party by ordering the immediate release of Mr Sibomana Sylvain and Mutuyimana Anselme.
In September 2012, Mr. Sibomana, Secretary General of the FDU-Inkingi was arrested in a pub in Karongi, while he was making a critical analysis of the government’s education policy with colleagues. He was charged with “spreading rumours intended to incite insurrection or trouble amongst the population” (Organic Law 01/2012/OL, article 463). The High Court in Karongi sentenced him, and Mr. Anselme Mutuyimana, a fellow political activist, to six years’ imprisonment. The colleagues in the pub who were sitting with Mr. Sibomana, were charged for “concealing an offense or failing to inform security organs of a felony that is being committed” (Organic Law 01/2012/OL, article 570, and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. On the 22nd November 2013, Sylvain Sibomana was sentenced for another two years for illegal demonstration because he was found wearing a badge with the photo of Mrs Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, President of FDU-Inkingi and wearing a T-shirt with a word “democracy” on it. Sibomana appealed against the sentence and has been waiting for a hearing the last four year for his appeal to be heard. We believe that this was a deliberate decision move to keep him out of political activity.
We would like to recall the FDU-Inkingi has written several press releases and a letter to the Rwandan Minister of Justice complaining about torture, inhuman and degrading treatment that the two members of FDU-Inkingi have undergone since they were arrested, in total disregard of the national and international laws against torture and ill treatment. We urge the Rwandan government to release Sibomana Sylvain and Mutuyimana Anselme who have been languishing in prison, subjected to torture and ill treatment, for several years in total disregard of national and international laws.
Done in London December 4, 2017
Commissioner for external relations and spokesperson
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