Rwandan Government Accused of Role in Online Journalist's Murder

By: Qichen Zhang on 3 January 2012

A Rwandan online journalist's death late last year has stirred up controversy, with some alleging the Rwandan government had a hand in the murder. Charles Ingabire, an online news editor for the news website Inyenyeri, was shot last month in a pub in Kampala, Uganda, where he was seeking political refuge. The attackers escaped, and Ugandan officials stated that sub-machine guns were used in the attack. The Committee to Protect Journalists has stated that it does not know yet whether the Rwandan government played any role in Ingabire's murder. Even so, many already suspect that the shooting was motivated by political interests, as Ingabire was one of the most vocal reporters against current Rwandan president Paul Kagame's regime.

Kagame's administration adamantly denies any connection between the murder and Ingabire's political views. In a press statement, Rwandan spokesperson Yolande Makolo said:

It's certainly tragic that a Rwandan citizen has been killed in Kampala. But to say the reason he was killed is that he was a journalist is misleading. He was not known to us and he was definitely not vocal or prominent.

This is not the first time that a Rwandan journalist has been murdered. As ONI reported in June 2010, Jean Leonard Rugambgage, who served as acting editor for independent newspaper Umuvugizi after the paper's chief editor was exiled to Uganda, was shot while driving to his home in Kigali. The Rwandan government denied any role in the incident. Rugambgage was killed just a few weeks after the paper decided to publish online when their print operations were suspended by the government in what the Committee to Protect Journalists called "a thinly disguised attempt at censorship." Roughly one year after the murder, Umuvugizi—a constant victim of Rwandan Internet filtering—became temporarily inaccessible in the country.