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Rwanda police denies detaining rights activist

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By Robert Mugabe

newsdesk@greatlakesvoice.com

Supt. Theos Badege

Kigali, Rwanda-It all started when Joseph Sanane and Epimack Kwokwo, the president and acting executive secretary of the Regional Human Rights League in the Great Lakes Region were stopped by border officials on August 19.

They had been traveling to Burundi for a management committee meeting to prepare for the group’s annual general meeting. Both were detained and taken to the capital, Kigali, for questioning.

 Human rights watch says, Kwokwo was released the same evening. Sanane was detained overnight and released the following day, the statement which is highly referred by police as null and void.

“We called them for questioning only, and they were released and asked to report for the investigations of the charges they know themselves.

They are suspected to have embezzled the funds of their organization. Some of their staff complained to us, so we needed to investigate,” Supt Theos Badege, the Rwanda police spokesman said.

Ligue des droits de la personne dans la région des Grands Lacs, LDGL, which has its headquarters in Kigali, is a coalition of Rwandan, Burundian, and Congolese human rights groups.

Sanane, who was traveling through Rwanda on his way to Burundi, was stopped at Bugarama, on the Rwandan side of the border.  He was taken to the local police station and detained in a cell overnight. The following morning, he was handcuffed and transferred to the CID in Kigali. The claims which police also denied.

“These measures are clearly designed to obstruct the LDGL’s activities, intimidate its leadership, and weaken the organization,” said Africa director at Human Rights Watch, Daniel Bakele.

When the two men returned on August 22, the police went through their computers, apparently searching for documents relating to the meeting in Burundi. The police told the two men they did not find anything. They allowed Kwokwo and Sanane to retrieve all their belongings…

He was also questioned about the group’s financial affairs. The police accused him of misappropriating funds and helping Nyilibakwe to leave the country, allegedly with false documents. Sanane denied the allegations.

“Such behavior against human rights defenders, and an organization that engages in legitimate activity, belies the authorities’ claims that they respect human rights,” Bakele added.

The police asked Sanane whether he was involved in politics and alleged that complaints had been made about him speaking out abroad against the Rwandan government. He was released at around 7 p.m. and told to return

Efforts to speak to the activists were futile since their cell phones were switched off during the press time.

This post has already been read 4197 times!

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