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Rwanda: Genocide Ideology Law Being Reviewed

(Aug. 20, 2010) Rwanda's government has invited the non-governmental organizations Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to comment on the three-year-old genocide ideology law that is at present under review. The two human rights groups have been critical of Rwanda, complaining that the government is attempting to silence opposition voices through the use of punishment for the crime of “genocide ideology.” (Rwanda Seeks Watchdogs' Input as Cabinet Reviews Genocide Law, RNA (Aug. 12, 2010), World News Connection online subscription database, Doc. No. 201008121477.1_3018005671f72cd3.)

Amnesty International has said that more than 900 people are imprisoned for crimes outlined in the law. (Id.) In particular, it has criticized the law as vague, stating that it and other statutes are “ostensibly used to restrict hate speech, but often used to silence legitimate dissent.” (Amnesty International, Pre-Election Attacks on Rwandan Politicians and Journalists Condemned (Aug. 5, 2010),

Rwanda's Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama claimed that the review of the law is not just a reaction to outside pressure, stating that an “internal assessment showed there was a problem somewhere … so we decided as a country that we would review it.” Karugarama went on to say that any revised law “will address the issues that we have seen as weaknesses within the law itself.” He added that “whatever you do there will be someone who is not satisfied.” (RNA, supra.)