SEPTEMBER 19, 2005
Posted October 11, 2005

Bonaventure Bizumuremyi, Umuco

Police detained editor Bonaventure Bizumuremyi at the border with Uganda, where Umuco is printed, and took him for questioning. He was released the same evening and he managed to give out some copies of the newspaper for distribution. However, the next morning, September 20, police launched an operation in the capital Kigali to recover those copies. Local media sources said Bizumuremyi had been receiving threats from anonymous phone callers since his release.

Police spokesman Théo Badege told Reuters that police confiscated the latest edition of Umuco because it contained “harmful stories based on rumors and sensationalism.” The seized edition carried a series of articles highly critical of the government, according to CPJ sources. One piece alleged that the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front raised money from civil servants and public institutions in violation of the Constitution. Another article criticized the imprisonment of Umuco journalist Jean-Léonard Rugambage, and that of Belgian priest Guy Theunis, who was arrested at Kigali airport on September 5 and accused of having used his Dialogue publication to incite genocide in 1994.

Authorities have offered no explanation for the jailing of Rugambage, which local journalists believe is linked to his criticism of a traditional justice (“gacaca”) court in the central town of Gitarama.

In August, Bizumuremyi was twice held for police questioning following an article in Umuco on police corruption, and a piece that called for the release of detained opposition leader and former president Pasteur Bizimungu.