Charles Ingabire. (Ally Mugenzi/BBC)
Charles Ingabire. (Ally Mugenzi/BBC)

Rwandan online journalist killed in Kampala

New York, December 2, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the fatal shooting of Rwandan journalist Charles Ingabire in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, and calls on the police to identify the culprits and bring them to justice.

At around 2 a.m. on Thursday, unknown assailants shot online editor Ingabire of the news site Inyenyeri twice in the chest outside Makies 2 bar in a suburb of Kampala, local journalists told CPJ. The journalist was pronounced dead at the scene, according to news reports.

Ingabire was an outspoken critic of the Rwandan government. In 2007, he left Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, and began working as a correspondent for the critical online site Umuvugizi from Kampala. He started working for Inyenyeri last year, local journalists said. 

Critical journalists are not tolerated in Rwanda, CPJ research shows. Since April 2010, six journalists fearing intimidation and arrests have fled in exile, according to CPJ research. Two Rwandan journalists, Agnès Uwimana and Saidati Mukakibibi, currently face lengthy prison sentences for charges that include insulting President Paul Kagame.

“We are saddened by the killing of Charles Ingabire, which effectively silences yet another exiled critical voice of the Rwandan government,” said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. “Ugandan police must do their utmost to investigate this murder and ensure journalists can work freely without fear of reprisal in the country.”

Police recovered five casings of a sub-machine gun at the scene of the crime as well as Ingabire’s cell phone, news reports said. The police also held for questioning two employees of the bar, since the journalist frequented the establishment, news reports said

This was not the first time Ingabire was attacked. Local journalists told CPJ that unknown assailants attacked the journalist two months ago in Kampala, took the laptop he was carrying, and demanded he shut down Inyenyeri.

Ingabire is the second Rwandan journalist killed in less than two years, according to CPJ research. In June last year, former deputy editor of Umuvugizi, Jean-Léonard Rugambage, was shot as he drove home in Kigali. Two suspects were convicted on homicide charges, but CPJ and local journalists expressed deep skepticism about the prosecution.