In Rwanda, a journalist is attacked over critical articles

New York, February 12, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the brutal attack on Friday against the editor of a private bi-monthly after the newspaper published articles critical of the government.

Editor Jean Bosco Gasasira of the Kinyarwanda-language Umuvugizi remained in intensive care in a hospital in the capital Kigali late today after being attacked by three men armed with iron bars, according to media reports and local journalists. One of the attackers, allegedly identified as a demobilized soldier, was arrested by the police, according to the same sources. The attack was linked to a series of recent articles in Gasasira’s paper critical of officials in the government of President Paul Kagamé, local journalists told CPJ.

“We condemn this vicious assault on our colleague John Bosco Gasasira who has already been the target of threats and intimidation because of his critical journalism,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “We call on the authorities to thoroughly investigate this attack and to bring those responsible to justice.”

Umuvuguzi’s articles critically commented on the alleged political influence of army general Jacques Nziza, a former military intelligence chief, according to local journalists. They also alleged that Finance Minister and presidential adviser James Musoni was lobbying to succeed President Kagamé.

In August 2006, Gasasira received threatening phone calls after publishing an article alleging that nepotism in the current government was comparable to that under the pre-genocide regime of Juvénal Habyarimana, he had told CPJ. He had also claimed to be under police surveillance.