(English) Rwanda: Political prisoner Ingabire before the Supreme Court for the merit for a constitutional review of contentious genocide ideology laws.

The Supreme Court introduced the case on constitutional review filed by the opposition leader Madame Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza against genocide ideology laws threatening freedom of expression and the rule of law. In this case the respondent is the government of Rwanda represented by a legal team from the Ministry of justice. On foot of specific application to the Supreme Court, the parties having carriage of proceedings before the court were informed that only lodged written submissions will be considered and that there will be no hearing. The ruling is due on 13 April 2012.

However the court complained that the appellant did not append to the petition some copies of books of authorities such as statutory instruments, treaties,international conventions, decided cases. etc and copies of laws to be relied upon. The Court will examine the request by the appellant to lodge additional copies of books of authorities before the ruling.
Legal observers in this case were surprised by this obligation to submit copies of Rwandan laws and even international regulations in support of well established principles of law which are not in dispute between the parties. This seems to be a shortcut to dismiss the case on grounds of merit without even considering the constitutionality of some aspects of the controversial genocide laws.
In May 2010, during a presidential conference, Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama revealed that “Cabinet is discussing the law internally to see if there can be “room for improvement” as a result of a cabinet directive”. But since then, those laws are still used to keep a curtain on free speech and oppress the opposition.
Last week, the High court has postponed the proceedings on allegations relating to acts of terrorism to 02 April 2012.
Boniface Twagirimana
Interim Vice President

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