Editor of independent newspaper attacked

JANUARY 15, 2006
Posted: March 8, 2006

Bonaventure Bizumuremyi, Umuco

Four unidentified intruders carrying clubs and knives came to the Kigali home of Bizumuremyi, editor of one of Rwanda’s few independent newspapers, Umuco. CPJ sources said the intruders broke the door, awakening neighbors who intervened before the intruders could get inside. Bizumuremyi, who had been asleep inside, summoned police. Police said they would investigate, according to the local human rights organization Ligue des Grands Lacs.

The incident came after Umuco carried an article critical of the ruling RPF party, according to local sources. Following the paper’s publication, Bizumuremyi received a number of anonymous threatening phone calls.

In September 2005, police briefly detained and questioned Bizumuremyi at the border with Uganda, where Umuco is printed, and confiscated copies of the paper. A police spokesman told Reuters that police confiscated the paper because it contained “harmful stories based on rumors and sensationalism.” The seized edition carries a series of articles highly critical of the government, according to CPJ sources.

Umuco journalist Jean-Léonard Rugambage has been in jail in the central town of Gitarama since September 7, 2005. He was jailed on the orders of a traditional “gacaca” court and accused of participating in a murder related to the 1994 Rwandan genocide, although several local sources told CPJ they believe he was jailed for his journalistic work. His arrest came shortly after he wrote an article for the August 25 edition of Umuco that accused gacaca officials in the Gitarama region of corruption, mismanagement, and witness tampering.