Conflict & Justice

Rwanda military intelligence tortures detainees, Amnesty report says


President of Rwanda Paul Kagame speaks during a press conference in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, on Dec 12.



Rwanda's military intelligence has illegally detained and tortured scores of people, rights group Amnesty International says in a new report.

The report, released Monday, details accounts of severe beatings, electric shocks and sensory deprivation to force confessions from civilians by the Rwandan military intelligence department known as J2.

Civilians are held at a military camp and a network of safe houses in Kigali, the capital, anywhere from 10 days to nine months without access to lawyers, doctors or family members, according to the report, "Shrouded in Secrecy: lllegal Detention and Torture by Military Intelligence."

“The Rwandan military’s human rights record abroad is increasingly scrutinized, but their unlawful detention and torture of civilians in Rwanda is shrouded in secrecy,” Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s acting deputy Africa director, said in a statement.

Rwanda's Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama dismissed the accusations, telling the BBC that "the allegations of torture are a complete fabrication."

The country's foreign minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, wrote on her Twitter account that "Rwanda will act on all credible claims of torture but won't engage in a shouting match w/ another NGO seeking headlines at Rwanda's expense."

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President Paul Kagame and his Rwandan Patriotic Front party have been in power since the end of the 1994 genocide that killed 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, when he led a rebel army into Kigali to expel a Hutu-led government. 

But Kagame’s government is accused of becoming increasingly despotic. Human rights groups say opposition politicians, journalists and civil society activists in Rwanda have been subjected to growing crackdowns.

Kagame’s government has also been accused of involvement in a plot to kill a Rwandan army chief living in South Africa, and in attacks on other dissidents living in exile.

Amnesty International says it documented 45 cases of unlawful detention and 18 allegations of torture or ill-treatment between 2010 and 2012, with many of the detainees rounded up by the military ahead of the August 2010 presidential elections.

Two men who disappeared in March 2010, Robert Ndengeye Urayeneza and Sheikh Iddy Abbasi, are still missing, Amnesty says.

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