Rwanda’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Johnston Busingye, has said the trial of Paul Rusesabagina – whose story during the 1994 genocide inspired the Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda – is based on key facts.
Rusesabagina, a prominent critic of the Rwandan president, is facing nine charges including terrorism.
Busingye also dismissed claims Rusesabagina was kidnapped and repatriated to Rwanda, stating that he willingly boarded a flight to Rwanda and disembarked willingly.
The Rwandan minister said the suspect has been receiving regular access to medical care by professionals, dismissing concerns about Mr Rusesabagina’s pre-existing hypertension and cardiovascular conditions.
The justice minister said officials from the Belgian and US embassies had been allowed to visit the suspect and that he has access to legal counsel.
On Monday, Rusesabagina sued a Greek air charter company in the U.S. for helping Rwandan agents kidnap him in an elaborate hoax. The 66-year-old claimed GainJet’s pilot and co-pilot were responsible for their passengers’ safety yet did nothing when they saw his abductors bind his hands before the plane landed in Kigali instead of Burundi, where he believed he was heading to for a speaking engagement.
“GainJet and its employees and agents did not issue any international ‘Mayday’ call or ‘squawk ‘7700” on the radio — the internationally recognized code for distress or an emergency situation in flight,” Robert Hilliard, the Rusesabagina family’s lawyer, said in a 90-page complaint that catalogs alleged human-rights abuses by Kagame’s government and political party.
Meanwhile, US Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney has called for his release in a letter to President Paul Kagame.
Her letter to Kagame reads, ” I write to request that you immediately release and safely return Paul Rusesabagina, a United States Legal Permanent Resident and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, to the United States to be reunited with his family. Known for saving the lives of 1,268 people during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, I have serious concerns about the events leading to Mr. Rusesabagina’s arrest and the life-threatening conditions he continues to endure as a prisoner.
“On August 27, 2020, Mr. Rusesabagina boarded a plane in Dubai he believed was headed to Burundi. The next day, however, the plane landed in Kigali, where Mr. Rusesabagina was arrested immediately by Rwandan authorities. While specific details around the arrest remain unclear, what is clear is that the Republic of Rwanda extrajudicially kidnapped Mr. Rusesabagina to incarcerate and imprison him for unfounded crimes stemming from his long-documented and internationally acclaimed human rights advocacy efforts.
“By utilizing clandestine methods to lure and arrest Mr. Rusesabagina, the Rwandan government purposefully ignored the legal avenues available via our deportation laws to request a deportation, violating United States law. United States deportation law provides a legal procedure to deport persons for various crimes, including those accused of engaging in terrorist activity. The United States deportation process complies with due process of law while enabling the United States to deport those who should face criminal prosecution in another country. For example, in the last two decades the United States has deported four people to Rwanda and will deport four more after they complete their criminal sentences in the United States. Given this record of bilateral cooperation when legal standards are met, Rwanda’s decision in favor of the secretive, extrajudicial transfer of Mr. Rusesabagina demonstrates both a disregard for United States law and a lack of faith in the evidence supporting his arbitrary detention.
“As COVID-19 continues to ravage the globe, I also implore you to release Mr. Rusesabagina on humanitarian grounds. Mr. Rusesabagina suffers from hypertension, cardiovascular disorders, and is a cancer survivor in remission. COVID-19 poses a far greater risk to Mr. Rusesabagina given his age and preexisting conditions and the crowded, unsanitary prison environment only elevates his risk of contracting the virus. Despite these concerns, Mr. Rusesabagina continues to be denied medical bail even though he has been taken to the hospital multiple times since first being arrested. It has been more than three months since he was detained, and I urge you to release Mr. Rusesabagina in recognition of these dangerous factors that continue to jeopardize his life.
“As a senior member of the House and the Democratic leadership team, I want to underscore the strong support in the United States Congress for Mr. Rusesabagina and our desire for your government to return him swiftly and in good health. I – along with other colleagues in the House and Senate that have demonstrated their support for Mr. Rusesabagina – will continue to monitor his condition and utilize our power as Members of the United States Congress to advocate for his immediate release.
“Paul Rusesabagina, an internationally acclaimed human rights advocate, was extrajudicially kidnapped by the Rwandan government and now faces the prospect of spending his life or dying behind bars. It is in the best interest of U.S.-Rwandan relations that he be afforded the same legal rights and treatment – as well as humanitarian relief – as others historically have been afforded under U.S. and international law. As such, I urge you and your government to immediately release and safely return Paul Rusesabagina to the United States.”
Uganda Election: Bobi Wine Files Arbitrary Detention Complaint
The Presidential candidate of the National Unity Platform (NUP) in the Uganda election, Robert Kyagulanyi a.k.a Bobi Wine, has filed an arbitrary detention complaint to the United Nations (UN).
The Ugandan military has since Friday surrounded Bobi Wine’s house, a day after Uganda conducted presidential elections, barring him from going out or receiving visitors.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Bobi Wine, said: “Nigerian human rights lawyer Femi Falana has filed this complaint on my behalf to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Arrest.
“We are challenging my continued illegal confinement by the Ugandan police and the military.”
Long-time president Museveni, 76, was re-elected with almost 59 per cent of the vote, followed by 38-year-old Wine, with roughly 35 per cent.
Wine says he will legally contest the result of the presidential election, alleging “widespread fraud” during the Jan. 14 poll, which was seen as Uganda’s first election in which there was a real threat to Museveni’s rule.
Museveni, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, has retained power for 35 years.
He had changed Uganda’s constitution to enable himself to run for yet another five-year term.
The election had been overshadowed by violence since campaigning began, with almost daily violence being reported.
The internet was shut down across the country shortly before the start of voting.
It has since returned, although social media remains unavailable.
Ugandans Go to the Polls; This Time to Vote for Mayors
The Ugandan electorate on Wednesday returned to polling stations to elect city mayors and district chairpersons.
According to Electoral Commission (EC) road map, Wednesday’s elections of District Local Government Councils shall include elections for District/City Chairpersons, Lord Mayor, Mayors, and Councillors at local government level.
The poll is holding about a week after presidential and parliamentary polls were held. However, local media say voter turnout are low in the local government council elections compared to last week’s elections.
Analysts say the low turnout was expected as some voters were unhappy with how the general elections were conducted.
Popular musician Jose Chameleon, real name Joseph Mayanja, is contesting to be mayor of the capital, Kampala. His rivals include Nabilah Naggayi, Dan Kazibwe, Godfrey Nyakana and incumbent Erias Lukwago.
Under the Local Government Act, District chairpersons are among others, mandated to preside over meetings of the executive committees of the districts, monitor the general administration of the districts and implementation of council decisions.
Meanwhile, the results of the presidential election continued to generate tensions locally and internationally. A Nigerian senior advocate and human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN), on Tuesday dragged President Yoweri Museveni to the United Nations over the illegal house arrest of his main challenger, Robert Kyagulanyi a.k.a Bobi Wine.
Bobi Wine, 38, has not been seen outside of his home since the Presidential election held last Thursday.
On Tuesday, US Ambassador to Uganda, Natalie E. Brown, who went to Wine’s resident to check on his health and safety, because he has “effectively been unable to leave his home, with security forces surrounding his residence,” was turned back by the army, a Facebook post said.
Uganda Election: Nigerian Lawyer, Falana, Takes Museveni Complaints to the UN
Nigerian lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN), has filed a complaint at the United Nations against President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda over the illegal detention of Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine.
Bobi Wine, a former reggae musician, had been under house arrest since Thursday night.
News Central reports that 38-year-old Bobi Wine was Museveni’s main challenger in the 14 January 2021 Presidential election.
Contesting as a presidential candidate under the umbrella of the National Union Platform (NUP), Bobi Wine had emerged second best after polling 38 per cent of the votes.
Museveni was declared winner after claiming 58 per cent of votes cast.
However, Ugandan forces had condoned off Wine’s house since last Thursday, effectively keeping him and his wife under house arrest and incommunicado.
On Tuesday, the United States Government announced that the U.S. Ambassador to Uganda, Natalie Brown, had been barred from seeing Bobi Wine
In a statement same day, Falana said that Bobi Wine had been denied access to his lawyers in a bid to prevent him from filing a petition against the declaration of Museveni as the winner of the highly flawed Presidential election.
“We have submitted a complaint against the government of Uganda to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concerning the detention of the detained couple,” Falana said.
The complaint by Falana, which was attached to the statement, read in part, “Mr. Wine and his wife are being illegally detained for days without any criminal charges preferred against him. He has also been denied adequate supply of food by hundreds of Uganda military forces and policemen who have laid siege to his house for the umpteenth time since the election day.
“I am therefore seeking an opinion from the Working Group finding the house arrest and continuing detention of Mr. Wine and his wife to be arbitrary and in violation of Uganda’s Constitution of 1995 (as amended) and obligations under international human rights law including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Uganda is a state party.”
Also, a top U.S. diplomat to Africa, Tibor Nagy, called Uganda’s electoral process “fundamentally flawed,” citing “authorities’ denial of accreditation to election observers, violence and harassment of opposition figures” and the arrest of civil service organization workers.
“We continue to urge restraint and rejection of violence by all actors as Uganda’s election results are announced,” said Nagy in a series of tweets,.
“The immediate and full restoration of Internet connectivity is essential. The U.S. response hinges on what the Ugandan government does now.”
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