7 December 2011

Rwandan journalist shot dead in Kampala, Uganda

Charles Ingabire, the Rwandan exiled editor of the online publication
Charles Ingabire, the Rwandan exiled editor of the online publication "Inyenyeri", was shot dead by one or more unknown gunmen in a vehicle at a bar in Kampala, Uganda

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Charles Ingabire, the Rwandan exiled editor of the online publication "Inyenyeri", was shot dead by one or more unknown gunmen in a vehicle at a bar in Kampala, Uganda on 30 November, report the Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) and other IFEX members. As "Inyeyeri" is highly critical of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, it is believed the early morning shooting - which killed Ingabire instantly - was carried out as a punishment for Ingabire's writings.

According to Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), local journalists say Ingabire was attacked in the past, when unknown individuals took his laptop and warned him to shut down the website. Rwandan spies are frequently dispatched to follow political opponents north of the border, adds Human Rights Watch.

According to HRNJ-Uganda, police are investigating the case by questioning a security guard and bartender who may have been involved in the crime. Police recovered five sub-machine gun cartridges at the scene.\

"It's unfortunate that attacks aiming to silence critical voices are spreading beyond Rwanda and the gunmen continue to be unknown," said Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala of HRNJ-Uganda.

Ingabire fled Rwanda for Uganda in 2007 due to political persecution, according to his colleagues. The Rwandan government claims, however, that Ingabire was convicted for embezzlement and escaped jail, reports the International Press Institute (IPI).

HRNJ-Uganda points out that just one and a half years ago, another Rwandan journalist, Jean-Leonard Rugambage, was assassinated in a similar style. The editor of the private tabloid "Umuvugizi" was shot dead by unknown gunmen outside his Kigali home in June 2010.

This latest killing follows a long pattern of harsh repression against independent journalists, civil society representatives and opposition politicians in Rwanda, says Human Rights Watch.

Due to past failings of the Ugandan government to transparently investigate such murders, HRNJ-Uganda urged the government of Uganda to involve Interpol in the case.

Indeed, numerous incidents in Uganda show that while government officials aren't as ruthlessly targeting journalists as their southerly neighbour, the Ugandan government's animosity toward press freedom has led to impunity for those who kill journalists. ARTICLE 19 points out that there have been several cases of journalists killed in Uganda in recent years. Many others have been shot at and injured by security forces in the past year.

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