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Supreme Court urged to overturn journalists' convictions

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - Kigali 01.11.2011: ARTICLE 19 calls on the Supreme Court of Rwanda to implement Rwanda's international legal obligations on freedom of expression and overturn the convictions of two journalists for speech-related offences.

"We urge the Supreme Court of Rwanda to recognise the legitimacy of the journalists' right to freedom of expression according to Rwanda's international and regional human rights law," said Henry Maina, Director of ARTICLE 19 Kenya and East Africa.

The two journalists, Agnès Uwimana Nkusi and Saïdati Mukabibi, were convicted on 4 February 2011 for threatening national security, genocide denial, creating divisionist ideas, incitement to divisionism and defamation of public officials under the Penal Code of Rwanda through articles they had written between 2009 and 2010. These articles encompassed comments about the current government, political leaders and the current social and economic state of Rwanda.

On the eve of the journalists' appeal to the Supreme Court of Rwanda against their conviction, ARTICLE 19 has submitted an amicus brief to the court elaborating upon international human rights law on freedom of expression and freedom of media. The amicus brief argues that the judgment of the High Court convicting the journalists violates international human rights standards on freedom of expression by failing to set the right balance between the right to freedom of expression, on the one hand, and protection of national security and the rights and reputations of others, on the other hand.

Previously, ARTICLE 19 has repeatedly and strongly criticised the Rwandan government for the adoption and maintenance of the laws under which these journalists have been tried and convicted, as well as for their record on freedom of expression.

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