Rwanda: Army, Police under probe for beating up a journalist

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Staff writer

A local online publication journalist working with was on Saturday reportedly manhandled and roughed-up by police officers in Musanze District.

Norbert Niyizurugero, was beaten up by police and army officers on foot patrol as he was taking photos in Musanze Taxi Park, where passengers had formed queues. There was shortage of mini-buses in the park and queues of passengers formed, which attracted his attention.

When he started taking photos, he said, police personnel on patrol warned him against taking photos of the park. According to the publication management, they intervened and the journalist was set free.

“They slapped me and forced me to sit down. My phone fell down and was destroyed. When I pleaded my innocence and showed them my identification as a journalist on my routine job, they continued beating me,” Niyizurugero said.

He said they later released him with all his belongings and without any charges.

Police Spokesperson Supt. Theos Badege confirmed the incident to the local daily The New Times. He said the officers in question had been warned against the behaviour, blaming it on their “ignorance about the rights of journalists.”

Supt Badege was quoted as saying, “We have addressed the problem; it seems they did not know that journalists are supposed to take photos in public places,” said Badege.

He did not state whether those involved would face any action.

However speaking to Great Lakes Voice, Badege denied speaking to the new Times. “The guy of New Times is liar. I didn’t confirm to that paper that our officer was involved in beating up a journalist.” He said

Badege wasn’t clear whether Police has complained to New Times about the article.

“Ask management, no Police officer was involved in beating up the journalist. Its other peoples’ case not us,” Badege added. When Great Lakes Voice crossed checking with Kigali-today editor confirmed his reporter was slapped and miss handled. However, the editor was leructant to say exactly who was involved.

“We intervened and contacted the Police, and then they released our reporter. He’s now at the field working. We did not want to make it a big issue,” He said
However, the Media High Council (MHC) has promised to investigate the case.

Media high council officer in charge of press freedom, Luke Ibrahim Karema told Great Lakes Voice that the journalist told him that he was beaten up by the army soldiers on patrol and latter handed over the Police custody. “I am driving to Musanze to meet the reporter who was beaten up. Because the Police denies the involvement and the victim is saying that the army was involved. But I will need to find out,” Karema asserted.

The effort to speak to army and defence spokesman was futile since he could not pick his phone at press time.

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