Bugesera: Talking to journalists has put their security in danger

On 9th September 2019, the leaders of Nkanga cell, Rweru sector, Bugesera district summoned all cell residents   and told them that the enemies of the country have stolen the national flag. 

“We all (cell residents) stayed at cell ground from 2h00; around 1pm of the following day, the cell executive secretary brought back the flag from his office and raised it again.  He told said that the flag was not really stolen and said that the only condition to be released is to pay 500rwf each household, to buy cell office cash power.” Says one Maguru, one of residents

The information leaked out and Tv/radio one visited citizens to investigate the issue. Leaders  who say that  money collected as to rehabilitate the  damaged cell office, started intimidating interviewed citizens as they saw their faces on Tv1 narrating the situation.

Public harassment

When TV1 went there in the following week, citizens were fearful for their security in danger, they addressed the issue again.

“The RPF chairman Ntezimana Mathiew and cell executive secretary George Rubasasa said in a cell meeting “if you don’t know umucengezi, see the bad lady Saïdat, a leader of rebels in the cell, enemy of the country who betray leaders.” Says madam Saidat (shedding tears) one of victims of intimidation

“I can’t even sleep because the ES of the cell ordered security agents of the cell to arrest me anytime and confined at Ruhuha rehabilitation center.” Said Maguru 

One member of cell council (njyanama y’akagali) who preferred to be kept anonymous for her security confirmed this intimidation to citizens.

“What those citizens are saying is true; in our last council meeting; one of agenda was citizens who gave information to TV1 journalist and other media especially Saidat and Maguru.  The leaders concluded that we have to prepare fake dossiers charging them of betraying and tarnishing the image of the country so that it may be the reason to confine them in Ruhuha rehabilitation center.

The journalist wanted to know if the sector leaders are aware of the situation, Rweru sector executive secretary MURWANASHAYA, through phone interview said that they are still investigating about it and citizens will get justice.

RIB started investigation, leaders apologize

One month after story diffusion, the citizens called the journalist telling him that they have a success story.

“Rwanda investigation bureau started investigating the issue then leaders called a meeting and presented apologies openly to the frightened people.

Seen that the situation may escalate, president of cell council, RPF chairman and cell executive secretary called citizens and calmed the situation.

 “He (president of cell council) called my name in the meeting and said Maguru,forgive me.”  We are now living peacefully and we thank you for advocacy and follow up”. Says Maguru   whom the leaders wanted to confine at Ruhuha rehabilitation center

The law n° 04/2013 of 08/02/2013 relating to access to information in Rwanda in its article 3 stipulates that every person has the right of access to information in possession of a public organ and some private bodies.

Regardless of the existence of this law, and some portals designed to ease the accessibility of information it is largely still difficult to access information despite the Ombudsman’s Office going as far as showing cases of leaders impeding journalists and citizens  access to information  

Freedom of expression, as a fundamental human right enshrined Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is the right of every individual to hold opinion without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.


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