From PHYLLIS BIRORI in Kigali, Rwanda
KIGALI, (CAJ News) – RIGHTS groups have challenged Rwanda to release the wife of an opposition leader, who has been arrested upon her return to the country and held incommunicado (denied visitors) for more than a fortnight.
Violette Uwamahoro travelled from the United Kingdom mid-February to attend her father’s funeral but police intercepted her in Kigali under charges rights groups said were trumped up as part of a campaign to frustrate her husband, Faustin Rukundo, a vocal member of the Rwanda National Congress, an opposition group in exile.
A police spokesperson said Rwanda National Police (RNP) arrested Uwamahoro following a tip-off that she is involved in “criminal dealings constituting serious crimes, including attempts to recruit people into a criminal network.”
Rights groups said they had documented a pattern of incommunicado detentions in Rwanda recently, often of individuals suspected of links with government opponents.
Several individuals have been forcibly disappeared.
There is still no trace of an opposition activist and a journalist who went missing last year.
Both are relatives of opposition members.
Presidential elections in the East African country are set for August. Incumbent Paul Kagame, in power since 2000, will contest.
“For these elections to be credible, Rwandan citizens will need to be able to participate in the electoral process without worrying that their loved ones might disappear or be held incommunicado if they dare to speak out,” rights advocate, Ida Sawyer, said.
– CAJ News