East Africa

Rwanda is being chastised for its lack of freedom of expression.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims that dozens of people have been harassed, threatened, or prosecuted for expressing critical views about Rwanda’s administration.

The US-based organization also called for the immediate release of activists, journalists, and opposition leaders detained in Rwanda in a report.

In 1994, media broadcasts of angry and harmful speech played a crucial part in fueling the Rwandan genocide, which killed over 800,000 people in just 100 days.

HRW has now stated that limiting speech and restricting journalists, bloggers, and YouTube commentators has gone too far, more than two decades later.

The report mentions a YouTuber with 15 million subscribers who was prosecuted with embarrassing public authorities after posting a series of films accusing soldiers of torturing slum dwellers.

While the rights organization understands the government’s worry about speech leading to violence, it claims that what it sees in the country is the outright prohibition of debates, opinions, and criticism of government policy.

President Paul Kagame’s government in Rwanda has yet to reply to the findings.

HRW expects that its research will raise awareness of the country’s apparent crackdown on free expression as it prepares to host the Commonwealth gathering in June.

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