Diane Rwigara: Woman faced 22 years in jail for criticising her government

Postado Dezembro 08, 2018

"I am continuing with my political journey. because there's still a lot that needs to be done in our country".

Ms Rwigara's difficulties began when she declared her candidacy in Rwanda's 2017 presidential contest. "There are still many political prisoners in the country", Reuters reports Ms Rwigara as saying.

Diane Rwigara, a women's rights activist, was arrested in September 2017 and detained for more than a year before receiving bail in October.

Rwigara together with her mother Adeline Mukangemanyi have been under incarceration over charges of inciting insurrection and forgery as allegedly discovered by the National Electoral Commission during the evaluation of nominations for the presidential elections held past year.

U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici told the BBC after meeting with the government that despite Rwanda's progress, political and civil rights violations shouldn't be masked.

She said she will move ahead with her People Salvation Movement, an activist group launched shortly before her arrest to encourage Rwandans to hold their government accountable.

But it added: "We condemn all attempts by external actors to inappropriately influence judicial processes in Rwanda".

The activist ran for president in 2017
Image The activist ran for president in 2017

Some Rwandans in the capital, Kigali, said they were shocked by the court's decision. She faced 22 years behind bars if convicted.

"I hope to be cleared of all these made-up charges but I am ready for any outcome", she said earlier this week.

Her attempt to stand against Kagame in the country's last presidential poll in August a year ago was blocked after she was accused of not submitting enough supporters' signatures and that some of those she submitted were forged. Amnesty International has called on the Rwandan judiciary to ensure that Diane Rwigara's trial does not become another means to persecute government critics.

The Rwigara family assets and stock of their tobacco company have been auctioned off by the country's revenue authority which said it was recovering unpaid taxes.

The judges ruled that the prosecution failed to prove that Ms Rwigara had personally forged signatures. Kagame won a third term in office with 98% of the vote.

Kagame has been Rwanda's de facto leader since 1994 when his rebel forces invaded and stopped the genocide that killed at least 800,000 mostly ethnic Tutsis and seized power.